Biomedical waste refers to any waste containing materials with potentially infectious substances such as blood. When the environment is a concern, the main issue is scalpel blades, glass pipettes, needles and other waste materials that can cause injury. It is vital for anyone looking at biomedical science jobs, to know how the work they will be handling will impact the environment, so they take the necessary measures.
The impact on wildlife
Biomedical waste that ends up in lakes, rivers and parks and other places where birds can access them can cause detrimental injuries to wildlife. Naturally, wildlife is inquisitive about pharmaceutical waste products and will be drawn to them. It is said that the scent and the colour attract wildlife to pharmaceuticals. Colourful pills and sweet smelling liquid medicine is bound to grab their attention. But the ingestion of medication results in injuries and sometimes death.
Pathogens can survive for a long time on needles and blades. If an animal comes into contact with a blade or needle that’s infected, interacting with it will cause infection and injury.
The impact on groundwater
A lot of effort and money has been used to build landfills that protect the earth around them. These landfills are built with a special lining that is close to the soil and groundwater to make sure that groundwater is protected from contamination. However, biomedical waste that is not disposed of correctly compromises landfill designs no matter how good they are. Syringes, blades and other sharp objects rip the lining bleaching the landfill protection. Contaminants are then carried by rainwater into the landfill, and they seep out to the exterior soil taking their toxins to the groundwater.
These toxins can also find their way into safe drinking water. Once contamination occurs, it is difficult, more expensive, and time-consuming to rectify. The best option is to dispose of pharmaceuticals properly rather than go to the trouble of correcting a problem that could have been prevented.
Pollution caused by biomedical waste
Doctors are sometimes required to use radioactive tools to make an accurate diagnosis. When disposed of improperly, the radioactive devices pollute the environment and make their way into landfills and other areas. The particles emitted by these tools are dangerous to people and wild animals. Constant exposure to such tools will cause serious diseases.
Incineration is often used to destroy some of the biomedical waste. While this works in most cases, when ignition that is not done properly, it causes pollutants to move through the air. Air pollution is worse than land pollution because the contaminants can be carried far and wide by the wind. This affects a lot more people and faster, which is disastrous to health. The carbon dioxide and poisonous toxins released into the atmosphere contribute to climate change.
The World Health Organization (WHO) says that all biomedical waste material must be segregated immediately they are generated, be treated appropriately and disposed off safely. Following these guidelines strictly will reduce the harmful environmental impact biomedical waste brings. Every pharmaceutical should select a waste management option that is environmentally friendly to ensure the safety of people involved, wildlife, and the environment.