Biohazard Waste and its Effects on the Environment
As healthcare workers start their shifts, one daily concern on their mind is biohazard waste disposal. They must always adhere to specific protocols in order to keep any contaminants from themselves, colleagues and patients. Although this concern is an immediate type, there is more to biohazard waste than just human interaction. In fact, this waste has a direct impact on the environment if it’s mishandled.
Wildlife and Pharmaceuticals
Improperly handled biohazard waste can end up close to wildlife refuges. Lakes, parks and other areas are natural habitats for birds and various fauna. Spilled medications, either in pill- or liquid-form, are curious items to wildlife. They might be attracted to the medications’ scents or colors. As a result, wildlife may consume the medication out of curiosity. This situation can ultimately injure the animal or kill it outright.
Contaminating Groundwater with Biohazard Waste
Landfills are carefully constructed to keep waste in a controlled area. They’re even lined with specific materials so that nearby soil and groundwater isn’t contaminated. Improper biohazard waste disposal, however, can compromise even the best landfill design. Syringes dumped into a regular landfill can easily rip into the lining. As rain falls in the future, any contaminants in the landfill will filter into the exterior soil. The groundwater becomes polluted as a result.
Possible Radioactivity Pollution
Doctors use a myriad of tools and devices for diagnostic purposes. Some of these items are disposable and radioactive too. When these items are mishandled, radioactivity can enter landfills and other areas. Radioactive substances give off particles that are dangerous to humans. In fact, excessive exposure to radioactivity can lead to serious diseases. It’s crucial to maintain strict guidelines when it comes to radioactive medical waste.
An alternative to landfill disposal is incineration. Medical waste can be destroyed by simply burning it. However, improper ignition can create pollutants that merely move through the air. Incineration facilities must be able to maintain a certain temperature in order to destroy every atom of waste. Airborne pollutants can be worse than land-based types because of their spreading ability.
It’s important for every person near biohazard waste to be aware of its handling. If an obvious error is being observed, such as soiled linens entering a regular trash can, observers need to speak up. Everyone has a responsibility to protect the environment from improper biohazard waste disposal. The Earth and its resources will be protected even more with diligent minds caring for the environment.