4 Things To Know About Medical Waste

It is quite the irony that what helps some people heal make some people sick. Hospital waste is a fickle thing, and proper medical waste disposal is essential in ensuring the safety and welfare of the general, not hospitalized, public. Employ the services of medical waste disposal for healthcare facilities in North America to ensure proper waste treatment. Here are four things to know about medical wastes.

Look at These Statistics

Each staffed bed produces an average of 33 pounds of medical waste every day. Adding that number up over one whole year, hospitals in the United States create a whopping 5.9 million tons annually. That is a mind-blowingly significant statistic but may not come as a surprise.

When you think about the number of hospitals in America, the number of patients admitted, not to mention those giving birth or being operated, then the figure does not seem so farfetched.

And while regular trash disposal costs about $.03 to $.08 per pound, regulated medical waste costs about $.20 to $.50 per pound to get rid off. But, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), only 20% of all hospital waste falls under the ‘regulated’ classification. The other 80% can be disposed of as ordinary trash.

Infectious Medical Waste

Medical waste is generally categorized into four: infectious, hazardous, radioactive, and general.  Infectious wastes are the most numerous kinds of waste, and potentially the most dangerous.

Infectious medical waste contains harmful microorganisms generated from the treatment of both humans and animals, who may have been contaminated by disease. This generally includes blood, blood products, body parts, even a patient’s bedding, and clothes.

You may think that products like diapers and tissues, or parts like nails and teeth are also infectious wastes, but they are not. Human remains examined for medical purposes, are not contagious medical wastes.

Many Treatment Options

There are a few varying ways a hospital can dispose of waste. Two of the most popular methods are the usage of autoclaving, which is steam sterilization, and incineration. All medical wastes are sterilized, except when the law requires burning since burning the wastes cause pollution. Examples of medical wastes that are burned are drugs, pathology wastes, or trace chemotherapy containers.

Once most items are sterilized, the metals and plastics are either recycled (for example, as alternative fuel sources) or placed into sanitary landfills.

Each State Has Its Regulation

When the Medical Waste Tracking Act (MWTA) of 1988 expired after two years, each state enacted its own set of rules modeled after the MWTA. Today, individual states govern the conduct of waste disposal in their respective jurisdictions.


Medical waste disposal is complicated, but it is worthwhile. For the good of the present civilization and environment, proper waste management is essential. Employ the services of a waste disposal company, so that your wastes are adequately taken care of.

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