The Three Things You Need to Know About Medical Waste


Recycling hazardous waste

Do you remember the last time you went to the doctor’s? Can you remember how many things the doctor tossed away? A couple pairs of gloves, disposable plastic otoscope bits, and wooden tongue depressors at least. In fact, it probably seemed that he or she was throwing something away every other minute.

It’s not your imagination, either. Hospitals generate a ton of garbage known as medical waste, and it’s kind of a big deal. Here’s what you should probably know about it.

What Is Medical Waste?

There are four different types of medical waste: infectious waste, hazardous waste, radioactive waste, and general waste. Infectious medical wastes can cause infections to humans, and include any sort of blood or blood product. Hazardous hospital wastes can affect humans in non-infectious ways, such as a scalpel, syringe, or other type of sharp. Radioactive hospital wastes are the wastes generated from nuclear medical treatments, like cancer therapies. General hospital wastes, though, aren’t dangerous at all, and are similar to any other sort of household waste. These hospital wastes actually make up at least 85% of all the waste generated at medical facilities.

How Much Medical Waste Is Produced?

Hospitals in the U.S. produce over 5.9 million tons of waste each year, and that’s on the conservative side. Though the vast majority of hospital wastes aren’t dangerous, this still means that 1.77 billion tons of dangerous hospital wastes are produced each year. If these wastes aren’t disposed of properly, they could pose a serious threat to health care practitioners, patients, the public, waste management professionals, and the environment.

How Is Medical Waste Dealt With?

There are two ways to treat medical waste: incineration and autoclaving. Incernation is exactly what it sounds like, using intense heat for the treatment of medical waste. Autoclaving, though, treats medical waste by combining heat pressure and vacuums. Most hospital waste treatment companies use both means to deal with medical waste.

If you have any questions about medical waste, feel free to share in the comments. For more, read this link.

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