How To Reduce The Environmental Damage Caused By Medical Waste

If not managed and stored properly, medical supplies used by hospitals, medical and biotech companies can cause harm to the environment as well as your health. These supplies range from diagnostic samples and chemicals to soil dressings and radioactive chemicals.

The questions that span medical supply storage and environmental ethics are gaining attention on a global scale with collaboration among health care professionals, companies, scientists, physicians and policymakers.

Where should a company store its medical equipment to ensure it’s monitored around the clock and there is no need to dispose unused supplies? Is there any solution that would perform supply maintenance according to manufacturer specifications? These are the kind of questions that need to be addressed.

How To Reduce The Environmental Damage Caused By Medical Waste

Dangers of medical waste

Infectious healthcare waste can infiltrate the environment, including trees, water and air. The pathological organisms can then spread to living beings through viral infections. Large quantities of waste (municipal solid waste or MSW) may be generated when medical companies and healthcare service providers are switching locations; large quantities of supplies may be simply disposed because of the inability to manage and carry supplies in between locations.

The MWTA (Medical Waste Tracking Act) was passed in the 1980s and the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) frequently attempted to create standards for managing medical supplies and avoid unnecessary waste, but only few states in the US adopted the stringent guidelines. The MWTA expired in the 90s, so each state was left on its own to establish management and classification guidelines for healthcare and medical waste.

Wastes happen despite regulations governing the treatment, transport, storage and handling of medical waste, as well as following the rules set by the DOT (Department of Transportation) for the transportation and packaging of wastes.

Waste regulation is necessary for reduction because this will only lead to special wastes that can’t be used in the future or that can’t be reused. Proper management of medical supplies can protect the environment as well as reduce costs for companies and patients. Some of the wastes can also be treated to be used with a number of different technologies that, for example, sterilize them. These technologies could include dry heat thermal treatment, biological processes and chemical disinfection amongst others.

Mismanagement and inappropriate disposal of medical supplies can result in significant harm to human health and the environment, so companies should explore options that minimize the disposal of waste and allow for storage and maintenance wherever feasible.

Storing medical supplies

Companies and medical service providers have the option of finding a biobank for storage of medical supplies, chemicals, biorepository, etc. Ideally, they should look for such storage solutions while considering redundancy: security back-up freezers, climatized systems, environmental control, etc. The best biological and medical storage facilities will be able to satisfy the most stringent compliance and regulatory storage requirements.

Such options can save environmental hazards and damage that occur because of medical supply waste. While reducing their carbon footprint, companies can enjoy access to specimens, chemicals, and supplies in safe storage environment.

As healthcare firms move their offices or visit other locations, medical supplies may sometimes be unnecessarily wasted. Companies, therefore, should explore environmental friendly options that enable them to store and monitor supplies without additional investment and also provide the aspect of portability.