Regardless of the activity in question, all industries produce waste. However, the impact of that waste can be even more dangerous in the case of healthcare facilities.
To put it simply, any kind of waste that contains infectious (or possibly infectious) material can be considered as biomedical waste. The term also has several synonyms that describe its nature (clinical waste, biohazardous waste, or regulated medical waste just to name a few),but no matter what you call it, managing and disposing of the different types of biomedical waste remains one of the biggest challenges of the healthcare industry. This is also why so many businesses rely on waste management companies, as the issue requires a formidable know-how to be handled efficiently.
Whether or not you choose to outsource hazardous waste management, it is essential that your company at least knows what needs to be dealt with. There are about eight different types of biomedical waste (although the exact number can differ depending on the categorization):
1. General, non-regulated waste disposal
Also known as non-hazardous waste, this category of waste does not pose any particular danger, and therefore doesn’t require any special handling or disposal method. General waste usually represents the bulk of medical waste in a healthcare facility, such as plastic and paper.
2. Infectious waste disposal
Just like its name suggests, these materials carry a risk of infection towards animals, humans, and the environment as a whole. This is why infectious waste management has strict rules regarding storage, transport, disposal, and processing requirements. Such waste includes, but is not limited to blood-soaked materials, sharps and surgical waste, and even body parts.
3. Sharps disposal
Sharps can also be considered as infectious waste. This includes anything that can pierce the skin, from tools like staples, needles, razors, scalpels, to other “sharp” waste like broken glass or wires.
4. Pathological waste disposal
This category can also be treated as infectious waste. Pathological waste basically covers any remain that comes from animals and humans, like bodily fluids, blood, tissue, body parts, and organs.
5. Pharmaceutical waste disposal
Discarded medicines and drugs also pose a risk of infection. This category of biomedical waste includes all vaccines, injectable medicine, pills and antibiotics that have expired, remained unused, or have been contaminated in some way.
6. Chemical waste disposal
This grouping mainly refers to the materials and components of medical equipment. This means that even the mercury found in thermometers counts as chemical waste. Other examples include batteries, disinfectants, solvents, and heavy metals.
7. Genotoxic waste disposal
Extremely hazardous waste, that can be mutagenic (able to cause permanent changes in an organism’s genes, i.e. mutations),teratogenic (can halt pregnancies and cause birth defects),and carcinogenic (can cause the formation of cancer). Cancer treatment drugs are also considered as genotoxic waste.
8. Radioactive waste disposal
In a nutshell, any equipment or supplies that could have been contaminated by radiotherapy or other lab research liquids. While low level of radiations aren’t considered dangerous, high radiation exposure can cause deadly damage to internal organs.