Infectious medical wastes are pretty dangerous, and if not disposed of properly, can pose a serious health risk to health care practitioners, hospital patients, waste management employees, the environment, and even the general public. It’s why hospitals use different regulated medical waste disposal methods, such as incineration or autoclaving.
But what do you do with infectious medical wastes when you’re at home? Are you supposed to burn them? Hire a hospital wastes treatment service to take care of it? Can you just throw them away?
While infectious medical wastes do need to be treated differently than general wastes, it’s fairy easy to correctly dispose of them at home. Here’s how.
Cap Sharps Before Tossing Them.
Every year, about 16 billion injections are administered worldwide. Yet, not all of the needles and syringes are properly disposed of afterwards. If you need to administer injections at home, you cannot just throw the needles — the infectious medical wastes — away. The Environmental Protection Agency advises self-injectors to toss their needles at supervised collection sites, use mail-back programs, participate in syringe exchange programs, or invest in at-home needle destruction devices.
Don’t Just Toss Old Medicines in the Trash.
Expired and/or unwanted medicines cannot just be thrown away, nor flushed unless the label says they can. The EPA instead suggests mixing unwanted or expired medicines — including over-the-counter drugs — in used coffee grounds, which should then be placed in airtight containers. Only then are they ready to be tossed.
Get Rid of Used Tissues.
Although this should be common sense, it is still important to note. Used tissues spread diseases, and should not be left around. Although most people who are sick are also fatigued and could care less about throwing things away, used tissues still need to be tossed, and tossed quickly. Otherwise, the sickness will spread.
If infectious medical wastes weren’t disposed of properly, everyone would be at risk. It’s why hospital waste treatment services make up a $5 billion industry, and why you need to take care of infectious medical waste properly when you’re at home.
If you have any questions infectious medical waste, let us know in the comments.