Biomedical waste: Medical college served notice
An incident of landfilling of huge piles of biomedical waste at an open space of the Medical College hospital was brought to the board’s notice recently.
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Biomedical waste management has been a crippling issue for the state, especially amid the pandemic. Unscientific disposal of medical waste could have lasting effects on public health, claim experts
The Kerala State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) has served a notice on the Thiruvananthapuram Medical College authorities for unscientific dumping of biomedical waste on its campus. The action was taken after the residents and public complained of piling biomedical waste, comprising used syringes, blood-stained cotton and bandages, in open spaces.
“The Bio-medical Waste Management Rule of 2016 restricts the occupier from establishing an on-site or captive biomedical waste treatment and disposal facility if a common biomedical facility is available within a distance of 75 km. This is because it requires trained, skilled manpower for proper operation and maintenance of treatment systems with minimal impact on human health and environment. But, we have noticed that many hospitals tend to unscientifically dispose of biomedical waste, leading to pollution. While some hospitals burn it openly, others were found to temporarily landfill the accumulated waste,” said Pradeep Kumar A B, chairman of KSPCB.
An incident of landfilling of huge piles of biomedical waste at an open space of the Medical College hospital was brought to the board’s notice recently. “We have already warned the hospital authorities regarding this. Many such incidents have been reported from other hospitals. Strict action will be taken against healthcare institutions found to be violating the rules,” said Pradeep. However, the Medical College Hospital authorities opined that they are unaware of the action taken by the KSPCB officials.
The KSPCB official added that currently, just one biomedical waste treatment facility is functional in the state. It is situated at Palakkad and managed by IMAGE ( IMA- Goes Eco-friendly) under the Indian Medical Association. “The total capacity of the biomedical waste treatment plant at Palakkad is just 40 tonnes. The pandemic brought in the need for additional incinerators, thereby increasing the capacity to 60 tonnes. Although instances of illegal biomedical waste disposal were reported during the pandemic, we were able to segregate and scientifically dispose of biomedical waste better as compared to our neighbouring states,” said the official.
In order to avoid the possible spread of Covid through waste, KSPCB had strengthened the rules for incinerating biomedical garbage from hospitals and quarantine centres. They have reduced disposal hours from 48 to 24. “We are strictly monitoring the waste management activities of hospitals and other healthcare facilities,” said Sindhu Radhakrishnan, chief environmental engineer, KSPCB, Thiruvananthapuram said.
Far from eco-friendly
Between May 2020 and February 9, 2021, 4,186 tonnes of Covid biomedical waste was incinerated in the state. Around 15 tonnes of Covid waste and 35 tonnes of non-Covid waste are collected daily. Under 55 tonnes of biomedical waste is being collected every day. “A Covid-19 waste tracking application ‘COVID19BWM’ has been developed by the Central Pollution Control Board for keeping a tab on Covid-related biomedical waste.
It is regulated by the SPCB,” said Premalatha S, environmental engineer. The KSPCB official said the proposed biomedical waste treatment plant in Brahmapuram in Kochi, will be commissioned by March and it will help tackle the biomedical waste management issues to an extent. “Installing common biomedical waste facilities in different parts of the state is also in the pipeline,” said the official.