Characterization of hospital waste in Lahore, Pakistan

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Abstract

Background

It is a common practice in developing countries that medical/infectious waste openly dumped with municipal solid waste. This paper presented a generation and characterization study of hospital waste. Determination of the waste composition is a basic step for selecting the most efficient treatment method of hospital waste.

Methods

Stratified random sampling was used to collect the samples of general as well as medical wastes for seven days. Medical waste was sorted into 10 categories whereas general waste was classified into 11 categories. Incineration was observed thoroughly for observing flaws in the incineration process. Data was analyzed by using SPSS software version 16.0.

Results

The studied hospital produced an average 297 kilograms of medical waste daily and it comprises plastics (71.0%), glass (13.9%), papers etc. (3.8%), cotton/dressings (5.7%), masks/gloves/sheets (0.3%) diapers (0.4%), wasted machines used in operation theaters (2.0%) and blades (0.1%). Laboratories, cancer ward, nursery ward, OPD and emergency ward are the largest infectious waste producing departments in the hospital. The hospital produced an average 3 511 kilograms of general waste daily in which organics constitute (44.3%), diapers etc. (42.8%), demolition materials (3.7%), plastic waste mixing medical plastic waste (2.5%), miscellaneous (2.14%), cloth/clothes (1.6%), cardboard (1.3%), papers (0.8%), cotton dressings (0.28%), glass (0.27%) and iron materials (0.18%). Other alarming facts are: medical waste is recycled in study area, after incineration of hospital waste, ash simply dumped in the premises of the hospital without any liner system.

Conclusions

The studied hospital produces 10% of infectious waste and 90% of general waste. The largest components of the infectious waste are plastic and glass. Organics and diapers are major components of the general waste coming from different sites of the hospital. Lack of training, inadequate knowledge regarding to the composition of the infectious waste and risks associated with the waste are the major issues which must be addressed and resolved.

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