The Pros And Cons Of Medical Waste

1193 Words5 Pages
Have you or a loved one ever been hospitalized? Most of the time when we go to a hospital, we are only concerned that our loved one is receiving the best care available. The best care should mean that the hospital uses sterile supplies and disposes of them appropriately. All these sterile supplies generate a lot of waste. Medical waste is the third largest source of waste in the United States. (Globalization 101) Hospitals in the United States produce more than 5.9 million tons of waste annually. (Practice Greenhealth) Large urban hospitals can generate more than two million tons of waste each year. (Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives ) Medical waste is a major problem and if it is not disposed properly it can affect humans and other things in this world. Dumping refuse into the ocean, particularly medical waste, affects not only sea life, but also human life.
The problem of dumping refuse into the ocean became a public concern in 1987 when medical waste, such as syringes and needles, washed up on the shores in New Jersey. At the time, AIDS was making headline news. This worried and concerned many people. People wondered where it came from, what it was doing there, if is it contaminated with AIDS or other viruses, and how it got there. Police looked from months to find the cause of this strange event. Then finally they found their victim. A company was paid, in New York, to properly dispose a large load of garbage, which contained medical waste. The company took the load and dumped it into the ocean. In theory, they believed it would be carried away by the Gulf Stream and would eventually sink. Unaware that it contained medical waste such as syringes that floats, they dumped the large load of garbage into the ocean. To a...

... middle of paper ...

...ls should be incinerated unless an air scrubber is used (Cornell University) (Wisegeek). Alternatives to incineration include steam sterilization, dry heat thermal disinfection, irradiation, and biological processes (Pollution Issues).
Negligent medical waste management is a major environmental issue particularly when it is dumped in the ocean. There are some serious effects of medical waste being dumped into the ocean including the spread of infectious disease, ingestion of toxins, and spread of bacteria and viruses. Medical waste enters the ocean because of improper disposal and illegal dumping. Proper disposal of medical waste involves sterilization or incineration. There is a surprising connection between the ocean’s health and ours. By stopping the dumping of waste into our oceans we are saving both sea life and protecting toxins from entering the food chain.
Open Document