When biomedical waste contaminates the municipal waste due to indiscriminate dumping by health care facilities, the entire waste is contaminated and is capable of spreading infections. Of particular concern is the exposure of children, rag pickers and municipal employees who handle waste, to such hazardous material.
The hazardous component of health care waste may contain infectious agents, toxic and hazardous chemicals and pharmaceuticals, radioactive materials and sharps that can cause health hazards to hospital patients, healthcare workers and the general public at large.
Poor hospital waste management may cause the following diseases :
- Hepatitis B & C
- Gastro-enteric infections
- Respiratory infections
- Blood stream infections
- Skin infections
- Radioactive toxicity
- Health problem associated with air and water pollution. Apart from the above mentioned incidents, there are other environmental problems associated
- with untreated BMW generated from the healthcare units, which are as follows :
- Decomposing waste may generate foul odour inside hospital premises and surrounding area.
- Drains may be clogged with waste materials creating unhygienic environment within the surrounding hospital premises. This phenomenon may also help in breading of mosquitoes/flies that might contribute to spreading of infectious diseases.
- Waste dump may attract stray animals and birds that might spread waste materials leading to unaesthetic and unhygienic environment.
- Indiscriminate disposal of pharmaceutical products (antibiotics and cytotoxic drugs) and
- Discharge of untreated wastewater generated from the health care units could have disastrous ecological effects. Open dump of waste may decompose to produce leachate that might contaminate ground water.
- Uncontrolled and open burning of wastes can generate dioxins and furans, thus polluting the air.