How Improper Medical Waste Disposal Affects Our Oceans
Well, it is that time of year again. Soon the college kids from around the country will flock to warm weather spots to hang out on the beach and enjoy their spring break. Their parents and even their schools have probably warned them about being safe while they are out having fun, but they most likely did not talk to them about the safety of the actual water and beaches.
Unfortunately, improper medical waste disposal can have a disastrous effect on our oceans, meaning that where those kids are currently frolicking, whether it is in Virginia, North Carolina, or anywhere else, those might not be the healthiest spots to be.
Potential Hazards of Improper Medical Waste Disposal
Medical waste is waste that contains contaminants from medical facilities and other places that might have biohazardous substances. It can be bodily fluids, or used bandages, needles, surgical gloves, and other wastes. Hospitals are a big producer of medical waste, as are research laboratories, vet clinics, and any place medication is manufactured or distributed. Unfortunately, much of this waste can end up in the ocean and cause a serious health risk for those kids spending time on the beach outside of Houston, Texas.
There is medical waste that is contaminated with blood or other bodily fluids. These substances may come from patients who have the HIV virus or acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). The waste may be in the form of used needles or vials. There are unfortunately facilities that will simply discard of this waste in waterways to save on disposal costs. The offenders could be anywhere in the world, and that waste could make its way to our continent. That means that even if something is not disposed of in the United States, it can still end up affecting our college kids from across the ocean.
Effects on Sea Life
When waste is dumped into waterways, it can seriously harm the sea life and other organisms that live in the water. If it is absorbed by plants, then it will eventually contaminate the fish who feed on those plants. Often times medication and culture dish medical waste end up contaminating entire food chains of ocean life. This can then harm human beings when we eat seafood, which is very prevalent in those coastal hotspots like South Carolina.
If a beach or the water around it gets too contaminated, then the beach may have to be closed. This can have a massive economic impact on the surrounding communities that count on tourism to boost their economies. Improper medical waste disposal means that needles and syringes can end up washing up on the shore in large numbers, so even if a beach does not end up closing, it can lose visitors just from having a bad reputation for being dirty.
If a facility skimps on its medical waste disposal, then contaminants that contain viruses and bacteria can be exposed to humans who are swimming in our waterways. There could be as much as 15% of waste that contains infectious substances.
As you can see, medical waste disposal is incredibly important for the health of our oceans and for those who want to enjoy them. If your facility needs to make sure that it is following secure medical waste practices, contact Medsharps to see how they can help you stay compliant.