By Vidya Krishnan
03 May 2010
Stricter disposal guidelines planned for infectious wastes, penalties to be imposed for violations
The Delhi government will announce new, stricter guidelines for disposal of bio–medical waste by hospitals.
The decision came after the recent incident of radioactive waste ending up in Mayapuri scrap market that claimed a life, and a recent Central Pollution Control Board study that found half the biomedical, infectious waste generated by hospitals end up in municipal garbage.
The guidelines are likely to be announced this week, said Health minister Kiran Walia, and both private and public hospitals will be looking at stiff penalties if they are caught violating the law.
According to Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), it is mandatory for hospitals to incinerate infectious medical wastes. But this is rarely done. As of now, most hospitals –private and public –do not have an incinerator and outsource the waste disposal process. The CPCB study said as of now "50–55 per cent of bio–medical wastes is collected, segregated and treated as per the Bio–medical Waste Management Rules". But the rest is dumped with municipal solid wastes, posing a risk to human health and the environment.
"Many hospitals either do not have the facility or their machines do not function," said Walia. "Keeping this in mind, we will soon be coming up with stricter guidelines."
"We will be particularly careful in hospitals which have cancer treatment facilities," Walia said.
Any radioactive source has to be surrendered to Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) and cannot be clubbed with other waste from the hospital.
In case of violations, the AERB can cancel the hospital’s licence to treat patients using a radioactive source.
At present, bigger hospitals, like the Delhi government’s largest medical facility –Lok Nayak Hospital –provide the incinerator facility to associated hospitals. "It might not be a cost–effective idea to have an incinerator in each hospital," said Dr Amit Banerjee, Medical Superintendent of Lok Nayak Hospital.
"Hospitals associated with us, like Sushruta Trauma Centre, use our incinerator as and when they require."