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KSPCB found waste being stored in black bags meant for general waste, and being mixed with unsegregated waste
Over the past week, surprise inspections conducted by the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) in hospitals across the city have revealed alarming discrepancies in segregation and treatment of biomedical waste.
In several hospitals, KSPCB found medical waste being stored in black bags meant for general waste, and biomedical waste being mixed with unsegregated waste.
KSPCB chairman Lakshman said, “If such waste is handled by personnel at the waste management plant, it could make them sick.”
The board has issued notices to all the hospitals and given them three months to comply with the norms, failing which they risk criminal charges. That said, closure of hospitals is not being considered as it would affect the treatment of patients.
On an average, hospitals can generate between 350 gm and 500 gm of biomedical waste per bed. However, hospitals that receive several accident victims can generate as much as 3 kg of waste per bed, said Mr. Lakshman.
During the inspection, the KSPCB found that, in a few cases, sewage treatment plants on hospital campuses were not functional or that waste was not being picked up regularly by the contractor. The Bio-Medical Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 1998, state that ‘no untreated bio-medical waste shall be kept stored beyond a period of 48 hours’. But KSPCB found that not all hospitals are complying with this rule.
Although major hospitals have strict policies on biomedical waste management and conduct training programmes on waste segregation for their staff, errors can occur at the end point of waste handling. In several instances, it was the companies contracted to secure and dispose medical waste that failed to follow the norms.
A random inspection by the KSPCB found cases of biomedical waste being mixed with other solid waste at St. John’s Hospital. Vijay Joseph, Chief Medical Officer of St. John’s hospital says that the hospital has a stringent policy for dealing with bio-medical waste.
Regarding the non-compliance notice issued by the KSPCB, he said, “The bio-medical waste and other solid waste were stored in a common area. We noticed that some of the staff employed on contract to remove the solid waste were rummaging through the bio-medical waste for useful material.” The hospital is planning to change the contractor and improve the storage area.
B.N. Gangadhar, director, NIMHANS, said, “We have taken action based on the KSPCB’s recommendations. One issue for which we will need time to resolve is treatment of effluent water from the laundry. We will study treatment in other hospitals and invest in a suitable solution.”
‘Liquid waste may have contributed to variance in measurement’
The KSPCB reported instances where the amount of biomedical waste cited by the hospital varied with the records maintained by private companies contracted to handle the waste.
Maridi Eco Industries Private Ltd, which processes 5 to 5.5 tonnes of waste a day from 2,700 hospitals and clinics in Bengaluru Urban, Bengaluru Rural, Mandya and Hosakote, was one of the companies found to be straying from the norms.
“It is possible that while the biomedical waste was weighed at the hospital, it was higher due to the weight of liquid waste, which would have dried up subsequently. However, we are surprised at the huge difference and are trying to figure out where things have gone wrong,” said Srinath M., vice-president of the company. “We are planning to implement a tracking system for each bag of waste received from hospitals.”
From: The Hindu