Medical waste management is a new area of focus in different countries since the new millennium. Wastes have always been a point of concern but with the growing levels of environmental pollution and the way it is impacting people’s health all over the world, it is imperative that wastes and the different categories are treated differently to minimize the effects on the environment at large.

In countries like the US there are various types of regulations brought on by different authorities regarding handling and disposal of medical wastes. For instance, the Department of Transportation lays down rules regarding packaging and transportation of different forms of wastes including those which are generated in hospitals and health care units; OSHA lays down guidelines for the safety of workers and how they should label and handle wastes, especially those which are hazardous medcial wastes and need to be handled separately; the Nuclear Regulatory Commission or NRC is concerned with the disposal of radioactive wastes while the Drug Enforcement Agency or DEA helps to ensure that narcotics and other forms of drugs are handled and disposed off in the right ways. The Clean Air Act again controls the various types of air pollution sources such as the emissions which occur from incinerators.

Medical Waste Management in Different Countries In countries like Australia there is a national standard laid down regarding clinical or medical wastes and the overall guidelines for treatment and disposal of the same. However, specific guidelines vary in states and depend on state legislations.

In Europe most hospitals have introduced changes in their ways of working to ensure that reduction of medical wastes happens wherever possible. Municipal wastes are to be segregated from hazardous infectious ways and the different hospitals are encouraged to take up different forms of treatments. From incinerators to other forms of disinfection, medical units are encouraged to recycle and reduce their medical waste so that lesser amount of wastes, treated or otherwise, end up in landfill areas.

There is much focus on the treatment of medical wastes in developing countries like India. Today, India has the Bio Medical Wastes Handling Rules of 1998 which lays down guidelines for health care facilities across the country to either have their own disposal units or to employ the services of waste disposal providers who would have the right facilities to treat the different forms of medical wastes. From incineration, deep burials, auto claving, microwaving, chemical treatments, this Act specifies the different categories of wastes ands how each should be treated. Thus, medical waste management in India is taking on new forms and importance along with international standards.

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