Hospitals not managing waste properly

Kathmandu, August 30

A study recently carried out by the Department of Environment shows that no hospital in Kathmandu valley has complied with the prescribed standards to burn wastes in incinerator.

As per the standards prescribed by the Ministry of Forest and Environment, the temperature must be maintained at least 1100 degree Celsius for incinerating halogenated (fluorinated, chlorinated and brominated) compounds and the retention time shall be two to three seconds. Incinerator is an equipment for burning healthcare wastes into ashes. Hazardous waste containers or biodegradable bags can directly be fed into the incinerator.

“Hospitals were not found burning wastes in the minimum temperatures prescribed by the government,” the 53-page report states. The DOE had conducted a study in four hospitals in Kathmandu.

All of them have been using non-burn technology such as autoclaving for detoxification of hospital wastes but lack the technology to check if they are properly detoxified. Hazardous wastes were found to have been mixed with general wastes thereby posing the risk of infection.

The hospitals studied by the DoE were adopting various methods of waste disposal. They include sale of recyclable wastes, burning in incinerators, providing them to waste management organisations and municipality and managing in bio-gas plant.

Of them, one hospital was found managing human organs in bio-gas plant and one did not have wastewater treatment plant.

Similarly, sanitation workers were found working without adequate safety measures. Waste collection venue did not have signpost. The report has suggested that the hospitals collect, manage and dispose of wastes with care and operate incinerators. There are toxic air pollutants like dioxin, furans, mercury and lead released by incinerator which is highly risky to patients, hospital staff and people living around the hospitals, it warned.

A 2014 study, which included 63 hospitals with capacity of over 25 beds, had reported that they produce 4,230 kg and 1,551 kg non-risk and risk wastes daily.