Andhra hospitals flout bio-medical rules

119 hospitals issued show cause notice by state pollution control board for violations

 
By M Suchitra
Published: Tuesday 24 January 2012

More than hundred hospitals in Andhra Pradesh have been found flouting rules for handling bio-medical waste. 119 hospitals have been served show cause notice by the Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board (APPCB).
The Board during its recent inspections found that most hospitals violated rules related to segregation, storage, transport, treatment and disposal of the hazardous waste prescribed by the Bio-medical Waste (Management & Handling) Rules of 1998.

Where the hospitals failed


Segregation: As per the rules, hazardous bio-medical wastes, plastics and biodegradable wastes should be segregated into three different containers or bags of different colours at the generation point itself, and the containers need to be labelled.

Yellow bags in which only hazardous and infectious wastes are supposed to go were found to contain plastic wastes too. In the blue bags, in which only plastic waste is supposed to go, general wastes such as papers and food leftovers were found

Disposal: The hospital authorities are supposed to treat and disinfect wastewater—generated from laboratories, laundry and water used to clean and disinfect different parts of a hospital. But they directly discharge the water into municipal drains

Treatment: It is mandatory to install incinerator, autoclave and microwave system for burning waste and also ensure the waste is treated at a common waste treatment facility. Only 13 hospitals in the state have their own sewage treatment plants

 
As per the rules, it is mandatory for all hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, dispensaries, veterinary institutions, blood banks, pathological laboratories and animal houses, which generate bio-medical waste, to take measures to ensure that the waste is handled without any adverse effect on the environment and to human health. It is also mandatory to install  facilities like incinerator, autoclave and microwave system for burning hazardous wastes , and also ensure the waste is chemically treated at a common waste treatment facility.


Most hospitals do not adhere to rules

The Board found most hospitals are violating rules right from the stage of segregating the waste and labelling it. As per the rules, hazardous bio-medical wastes, plastics and biodegradable wastes should be segregated into three different containers or bags of different colours at the generation point itself, and the containers need to be labelled. Yellow bags in which only hazardous and infectious wastes are supposed to go were found to contain plastic wastes too. In the blue bags, in which only plastic waste is supposed to go, general wastes such as papers and food leftovers were found.

The hospital authorities are also supposed to treat and disinfect wastewater—generated from laboratories, laundry and water used to clean and disinfect different parts of a hospital. But they directly discharge the water into municipal drains.

“The disposal of untreated bio-medical wastes poses both environmental and public health risks,” points out V S Prasad, state president of the Indian Medical Association (IMA). It is also an occupational health hazard to persons who handle untreated waste at the point of generation, as well as those involved with segregation, storage, transport, treatment and disposal, he adds.

The Board officials conducted inspection in hospitals—government as well as private—which have hundred beds and above. Among the hospitals which violated rules, 89 are in and around Hyderabad, which is known as the healthcare capital of India, and 30 hospitals are in other parts of the state.
Even well-known super-specialty hospitals like Krishna Institute of Medical Sciences (KIMS), CARE Hospital and Medwins Hospital in Hyderabad were found flouting rules. The Board found that KIMS discharges about 450,000 litres of wastewater daily from washing, operation theatre, laboratory, floor and laundry directly into municipal drains that join Hussainsagar lake.

The officials point that only 13 hospitals in the state have their own sewage treatment plants (STP). Other hospitals depend on the Common Bio-medical Waste Treatment Facilities (CBMWTF) for treatment and disposal of their waste since the bio-medical waste rules give them an option to treat bio-medical wastes at CBMWTFs. The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) had issued guidelines regarding this in 2003. It is mandatory for the CBMWTFs to have incinerator and autoclaves for burning waste and effluent treatment plant (ETP) for disinfecting the waste.

As many as 14 CBMWTFs (private agencies engaged in bio-waste disposal) are operating in the state. These agencies collect waste from hospitals and transport them to treatment plants. Four more CBMWTFs will open soon.

The hospitals have responded to the show cause notices and assured they would take measures for bio-medical waste management. The Board has also called for a meeting with representatives of the hospitals to discuss the issue. If the hospitals fail to adhere to the rules stern action would be taken, the Board officials add.
 

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