Bio Medical waste rise amidst COVID-19

#GS3 #SOLID WASTE MANAGEMENT #ECONOMY 

Context:

There has been an enormous pile-up of biomedical waste generated within the aftermath of the second wave of the pandemic.

Concerns:

  • The quantity of biomedical waste generated during the second wave at its peak is certainly quite what was seen within the first wave.
  • The second wave saw more face shields, masks, PPE kits, disposable bed sheets, syringes, etc. Although the gathering was relatively simpler.
  • This amount being generated is 4 to five times quite the conventional scenario bio-medical waste generation.
  • Even the value of disposal has increased to Rs. 58 per kilogram from Rs. 13 per kilogram.

what are the impacts associated by covid-19 ?

  • The second wave has spread even to the agricultural areas unlike the primary wave where spread was limited to major urban centres and/or metropolitan cities.
  • In addition to an approximately 25% increase generally waste because of work from home, there are cases of masks and therefore the like making their way into dry waste.  

Issues  

Improper Segregation: Lack of strictly monitored segregation and disposal makes biomedical waste management a significant public health issue. The segregation of waste may be a major challenge as an outsized quantity of garbage is additionally becoming a vicinity of biomedical wastes.

Unscientific Disposal: Domestic waste is being mixed with the covid waste beginning from the home quarantine of positive cases. Lot of it's dumped mixed in landfills and also “recklessly incinerated”, with serious consequences to public health.

Avoiding segregation because of high disposal Cost: For general waste disposal, hospitals are charged monthly. except for COVID-19 waste, they need to pay per kilo. So cases of passing this bio medical waste as general waste has been seen.

Management of Inventory: The bio medical waste is being put along side industrial toxic industrial waste within the incinerator. the matter is that the inventory of the waste as there's no surity of what quantity is reused, recycled or disposed, and it's hazardous.

Health concerns: Improper handling of hospital waste might aggravate the spread of SARS-CoV-2 to medical staff and other people who handle waste.

 

what are the NGT’s Order on Bio-medical Waste

  • Compliance Gaps: The NGT noted that it's clear from the report submitted by the Oversight Committee that there are huge gaps in compliance - in some states, compliance ranged from 17% to 38% only.  
  • Underutilization: There was underutilization of the common bio-medical facilities at many places. Facilities and their siting needed review and such facilities must obtain Environmental Clearance (EC).  
  • Authorised Recyclers: Recycling of bio-medical waste has got to be done through authorised recyclers and therefore the hazardous bio-medical waste must not be mixed with the overall waste.  
  • Prevent Groundwater Contamination: While permitting deep burials, it should be ensured that groundwater contamination doesn't happen .  
  • Role of CPCB: The Central Pollution control panel (CPCB) should review the compliance status from time to time and issue directions supported the observations from the reports received.
  • Common bio-medical facilities: There should be an adequate number of common bio-medical facilities.  
    • The Chief Secretaries of all the States/UTs need to make sure that authorization is secured by every health care facility in their respective jurisdiction which there's adherence to the norms.  
    • Similarly, the District Magistrates may, at their level, take necessary steps in their Districts, in accordance with the District Environmental Plans.  

Suggestions for the improvement:

  • Aware clients on the scientific disposal of contaminated waste while ensuring the security of their staff.
  • Keep separate colour-coded bins with foot-operated lids.
  • Use of an avid collection bin labelled as “COVID-19” to store COVID-19 waste.
  • Maintain separate records of waste generated from COVID-19 isolation wards.
  • A dedicated vehicle should collect only COVID-19 waste.
  • If waste isn't treated by incinerators, deep burial systems as per protocols must be used properly while taking all due precautions to stop harm to the environment.

Conclusion

  • Pollution control Boards got to put on their keen observations to see the negative actions and affects concerning biomedical waste. 
  • The rising issue of Bio-medical wastes within the country will be managed by segregating properly while emulating the Kerala Model.
Novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic: Considerations for the biomedical  waste sector in India - ScienceDirect

Perfect example of KERALA MODEL 

  • Common Bio-medical waste Treatment and Disposal Facility (CBWTF): The Kerala model is different as in the rest of the country, there are multiple treatment facilities run by private parties, while Kerala is the only state where the Indian Medical Association (IMA) is directly handling a Common Bio-medical waste Treatment and Disposal Facility (CBWTF) for the treatment of this highly contaminated waste. The IMA unit in Kerala is also the largest CBWTF in India.
  • Barcode System for segregation: In Kerala, regular Bio-medical wastes are managed through a barcode-based system through which the Indian Medical Association Goes Eco-friendly (IMAGE) picks up the waste directly from hospitals. 
  • Low Cost: Kerala also has the cheapest rate in terms of managing biomedical wastes. For COVID related biomedical wastes, the rates for Kerala government hospitals comes to the tune of Rs 22 per kg for government hospitals and Rs 30 per kg for private hospitals. This goes to as high as Rs 60-100 per kg in several states. In Maharashtra and Gujarat, it is over Rs 60 per kg.
  • During Pandemic:
    • Once the pandemic broke out, it linked all the hospitals separately with the Central Pollution Control Board’s (CPCB) mobile application. 
    • In addition, it appointed separate staff, vehicles and assigned independent treatment units for wastes from COVID care centres.
    • In addition, now the plants are running 24 hours to cater to the rising demand.

 

 

 

 

SOURCE: THE HINDU

 

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