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Health-care waste management in India is receiving greater attention due to recent regulations (the Biomedical Wastes (Management & Handling) Rules, 1998). The prevailing situation is analyzed covering various issues like quantities and proportion of different constituents of wastes, handling, treatment and disposal methods in various health-care units (HCUs). The waste generation rate ranges between 0•5 and 2•0 kg per bed per day. It is estimated that annually about 0•33 million tonne of waste are generated in India.

The solid waste from the hospitals consists of bandages, linen and other infectious waste (30–35%), plastics (7–10%), disposable syringes (0•3–0•5%), glass (3–5%) and other general wastes including food (40–45%). In general, the wastes are collected in a mixed form, transported and disposed of along with municipal solid wastes. At many places, authorities are failing to install appropriate systems for a variety of reasons, such as non-availability of appropriate technologies, inadequate financial resources and absence of professional training on waste management.

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Hazards associated with health-care waste management and shortcomings in the existing system are identified. On account of the infectious properties of medical wastes, most are treated carefully by incineration to ensure proper destruction of pathogens. However, the behaviors of medical wastes are not well understood during the process of incineration. Thus, the aim of this work is to investigate pyrolysis and oxidation kinetics of the medical wastes, including cottons, gauzes, saline bottles, stomach medicines with the thermal gravimetric analysis (TGA) method.

Experimentally, the degradation of cottons and saline bottles in pyrolysis and oxidation occurred at about 530 K and 510 K as well as 630 K and 530 K, respectively. Oxygen affects the degradation reaction of cottons and saline bottles at lower temperatures. The rate equations of the first stage of thermal treatment in different oxygen contents also showed that oxygen would decrease the activation energies of decomposition of cottons, gauzes and saline bottles.

But the presence of oxygen did not influence the decomposition of stomach medicines at temperatures below 550 K, while only pyrolysis took place. Medical waste is a multi component hazardous waste. Main constituents of medical waste are plastics, textile and polyvinylchloride (PVC). Medical waste also includes needles, pathological wastes from surgery and autopsy, and pharmaceutical waste. Traditionally, hospitals burn medical waste in incinerators and then eposit it into waste landfill sites. When burned, PVC produces inter alia carbon monoxide, dioxins, and chlorinated furans. The California Environmental Protection Agency has banned the permitting of any new medical waste incinerators since 2001. Pyrolysis is the efficient method of hazardous waste disposal and recovery of valuable materials. Output from medical waste pyrolysis depends on initial waste content: This is example of the commercial batch pyrolysis of the medical waste.

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