BY Our Staff Reporter
Guwahati, Aug 30: How is the biomedical waste - generated during diagnosis, treatment or immunization of human beings or animals, or in research activities, or in the production or testing of biologicals – handled and disposed off in the State?
In what might raise serious health concerns, nearly 80 per cent of hospitals, diagnostic centres and laboratories in the State are found to be flouting norms and disposing off the potentially infectious waste in a haphazard, improper and indiscrimite manner
According to Biomedical Waste (Magement and Handling) Rules, 1998 of India – bio-medical waste should be either destroyed in an incinerator or treated at common bio-medical waste treatment facilities (CBWTF) which function under state pollution control boards.
The entire Northeast has just one CBWTF – christened ‘Fresh Air’ – located at Panikheti in the outskirts of the city. Only 69 government and private hospitals are registered with it. Generally, a CBWTF caters to all hospitals within a radius of 150 km.
Sources said most hospitals in Guwahati, lbari, Morigaon and Kamrup adhere to the bio-waste regulation, but its implementation in other hospitals spread across the State and region is doubtful.
Hospitals which are 500-bedded and above are required to have their own incinerators and liquid waste magement (sewage and effluent treatment) plants.
But it is learnt that though some hospitals have incinerators, either these are defunct or not being used properly.
A hospital needs to treat bio-wastes within 48 hours and if it fails to do so, it needs to intimate the pollution control board. But it is often observed that the wastes are disposed off by some hospitals randomly which lie in the hospital premises for days together.
“Generally in a CBWTF, the waste is segregated and collected in coloured bags. Human parts, cloths and bandage are collected in yellow-coloured bags and destroyed by burning. Plastic syringes, blood bags and containers are collected in red bags and are first treated and then recycled to generate raw materials for plastic industry. Steel blades, scissors and surgical tools are collected in blue bags and are treated to kill infectious germs. Solid and fluid medicines are collected in black bags and destroyed,” director of the Panikheti based CBWTF ‘Fresh Air’ Partha Pratim Pathak said.
Health officials admit idequate bio-medical waste magement thus will cause environmental pollution, unpleasant smell, growth and multiplication of vectors like insects, rodents and worms and may lead to the transmission of diseases like typhoid, cholera, hepatitis and AIDS through injuries from contamited syringes and needles. Rag pickers in the hospital, sorting out the garbage are at a risk of getting tetanus and HIV infections.