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Half of bio-medical waste not disposed of properly, says study

Source: PTI
April 12, 2010 18:06 IST
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As questions remain whether the radioactive isotope that made it to a scrap dealer's shop in Delhi came from hospital waste, a study has found that half of bio-medical waste in the country is dumped along with municipal garbage.

The study said that only half of the total hospital waste generated in the country is treated in accordance with rules. Out of 4,20,461 kg of waste generated each day, only 2,40,682 kg is treated, according to a study by Indian Institute of Management, Lucknow.

As many as 14,959 hospitals who have been identified as defaulters have been served show cause notices, it said. Investigators are groping to find the source of the Cobalt-60 that was found in the scrap dealer's shop in Mayapuri a few days back.

The leak of the nuclear material has affected six persons including the scrap dealer who may require a bone marrow transplant after exposure to radioacative radiation. "Presently 50-55 per cent of bio-medical wastes is collected, segregated and treated as per Bio-medical Waste Management Rules," the IIM report said. The rest is dumped with municipal solid wastes posing a risk to human and environment health, it added.

Out of 84,809 hospitals, only 48,183 are either using common bio-medical waste treatment facilities (which are 170 in number) or have engaged private agencies. Giving details of the facilities at the hospital, the study points out that there are 391 incinerators, 2562 autoclaves, 458 microwaves, 145 hydroclaves and 6047 shredders in operation. Generally bio-medical waste is classified into infectious waste and non-infectious waste categories. If infectious waste is not disposed off scientifically, it could contaminate non-infectious waste, threatening local community.

The Biomedical Waste Management Act, 1998, mandates hospitals to handle their wastes in an environmentally and scientifically sound manner.The IIM which conducted the study on behalf of the environment ministry to evaluate the performance of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) points out that number of Common Bio-medical Wastes Treatment Facility (CBMWTF) has to be increased manifold.

The incineration of infectious medical wastes is mandatory for hospitals in the country, but many hospitals either do not have this facility or the machines are lying idle. "Presently there are 157 facilities which are not adequate to handle all bio medical wastes generated. CBMWTF is to be set-up under Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode," the report says.

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