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News Analysis

Biodiversity & Environment

Bio Medical Waste

  • 21 Jan 2021
  • 6 min read

Why in News

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has recently directed various authorities to ensure compliance from the biomedical waste management facilities in the country.

Key Points

  • Central Level: The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to ensure strict compliance of biomedical waste management rules and scientific disposal of the waste.
  • State Level: The Chief Secretaries of all the States/UTs to oversee compliance and ensure that authorisation is secured by every health care facility in their respective jurisdiction and also there is adherence to the norms.
  • District Level: The District Magistrates in accordance with the District Environmental Plans.
  • Groundwater Contamination: While permitting deep burials, it may be ensured that groundwater contamination does not take place.
  • Segregation: Ensure that hazardous bio-medical waste is not mixed with the general waste.
  • Frequent Violation of Rules: The direction came as a result of regular fines being imposed on various healthcare facilities and biomedical waste treatment facilities
  • Earlier Observation: The segregation of Covid-­19 biomedical waste from general garbage is a must to avoid further contamination adversely affecting public health.

Bio-Medical Waste Management Rules, 2016

  • Definition: Biomedical waste is defined as human and animal anatomical waste, treatment apparatus like needles, syringes and other materials used in health care facilities in the process of treatment and research.
    • Objective: The objective of the rules is to properly manage the per day bio-medical waste from Healthcare Facilities (HCFs) across the country.
  • Ambit: The ambit of the rules has been expanded to include vaccination camps, blood donation camps, surgical camps or any other healthcare activity.
  • Phase Out: Chlorinated plastic bags, gloves and blood bags has been phased out within two years starting from March 2016.
  • Pre-treatment: Pre-treatment of the laboratory waste, microbiological waste, blood samples and blood bags through disinfection or sterilisation on-site in the manner prescribed by the World Health Organization (WHO) or by the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO).
  • Categorisation: Bio-medical waste has been classified into 4 categories instead of the earlier 10 categories to improve the segregation of waste at source.
  • Stringent Standards for Pollutants: The rules prescribe more stringent standards for incinerators to reduce the emission of pollutants in the environment.
  • Role of State Government: The State Government provides the land for setting up common bio-medical waste treatment and disposal facility.es
  • Concerns:
    • Pandemic: The pandemic has presented a challenge in terms of capacity to scientifically dispose of generated waste and a challenge for civic authorities in charge of its collection and disposal.
    • Poor Compliance: States are not following the CPCB guidelines on Covid-19 related waste.
      • In some states, improper segregation of waste has been reported from Covid-19 facilities and quarantine homes.
    • Non Segregation: The non-­segregation of waste results in the incineration of contaminated plastics producing toxic gases and adding to air pollution.
    • Increase in Waste: The rise in residential biomedical waste and its collection without adhering to safety protocols could also trigger a surge in caseload.
    • Health of Workers Associated: Without proper scientific management of such waste, it can potentially affect patients and can affect the concerned workers and professionals.
      • Discarded masks and gloves risk the lives of thousands of sanitation workers who work often without any protection or training to handle such hazardous material.
  • Suggestions:
    • Proper Segregation: Left-over food, disposable plates, glasses, used masks, tissues, toiletries, etc used by Covid-19 patients should be put in yellow-coloured bags, while used gloves should be put in red bags and sent for sterilisation and recycling at the CBWTFs.
      • Where waste is not going to incinerators, deep burial systems should be properly maintained as per protocols taking all due precautions to prevent harm to the environment. A deep burial system involves burying biomedical waste in 2-meter-deep ditches and covering them with a layer of lime and soil.
    • Awareness Campaign: Initiatives like conducting an appropriate programme on Doordarshan, All India Radio and other media platforms to create mass awareness about the correct disposal of biomedical waste.
    • Creating Infrastructure: The government should set up recycling plants across the country (as envisaged under the Smart cities project) under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Model.
    • Coherency in Rules: The Centre should form a national protocol combining the Biomedical Waste Management Rules, 2016 with the guidelines on Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for producers of plastic.
    • Innovation: Incentivise start-ups and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) offering solutions for waste segregation and treatment.
    • Monitoring: There should be constant and regular monitoring by the central and state PCBs, Health Departments in the states/UTs and by the high-level task team at Central level with further coordination by CPCB.

Source:TH

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