The garbage consequences of a pandemic: how not to litter the entire planet with medical masks

Handling medical waste

  • Collection, packaging and accumulation

Class B can be accumulated

not disinfected, if used for thisspecialized storage refrigerators. The Russian industry produces a whole line of such specialized refrigerators, including huge storage-refrigerators in the form of freezers, designed for several tons of waste, intended for large hospitals.

Such drives are installed outdoors onthe territory of the hospital and the waste in them is directly in the bins. A typical 1,000-bed hospital, according to the study, generates approximately 1 ton of Class B waste per week. Such a storage device = refrigerator can thus hold, for example, a weekly volume of class B waste for such a hospital, placed, according to the requirements of SanPiN 2.1.7.2790-10, in yellow bins.

  • Transportation

Transportation is carried out by a specialtransport with marking, in which it is impossible to transport other goods, except for medical waste. As mentioned above, the requirements for such transport are strictly regulated.

  • Disinfection

Category B biological waste (for example, operating room waste) is not decontaminated. The following methods are used for disinfection:

  • Chemical (for example, treatment with chlorine-containing liquids) is a slightly outdated method associated with many side effects, for example, the smell of bleach, etc.
  • Hydroclaving (hot steam treatment under pressure)
  • Microwave processing

According to the current rules, only onedisinfection is not enough to dispose of medical waste in a landfill. They must be subjected to a further decontamination process to "exclude the possibility of their reuse."

  • The problem of recycling disinfected plastic from medical waste

Attempts are being made to establish recyclingdisinfected plastic from medical waste into recyclable materials. This would solve the problem of the impossibility of transporting decontaminated waste containing plastic in significant quantities to landfills, as they do not have a corresponding code in the FCCO. However, this approach runs into a number of difficulties.

First, hospitals must produceselective collection of plastic, which is difficult for them in practice. Otherwise, expensive manual sorting is required after autoclaving, making the process unprofitable.

Secondly, even after processing selectivelyThe collected plastic from the treatment of medical waste produces a mixture of plastics (usually low pressure polyethylene, PVC and polystyrene) with a previously unknown composition. Such recyclable materials are not applicable in the chemical industry (they need separation by composition into separate fractions). Moreover, after additional separation into fractions, the cost of such recyclable materials after all these treatments is so high that it almost doubles the cost of primary plastic produced by the chemical industry.

Therefore, almost only thermal neutralization is applied to a significant part of medical waste.

How long does coronavirus last on a medical mask?

According to the former head of Rospotrebnadzor Gennady Onishchenko, coronavirus can stay on the outside of medical masks for seven days, and on the inside for four.

The most inexpensive and common ones arethree-layer medical masks made of special nonwoven spunbond material, the service life of which is limited to two to three hours. After that, people simply throw them into the nearest trash can, without even thinking about provoking the further development of the epidemic, primarily among workers in the field of waste disposal.

Medical masks and ecology

Used face masks clog the surroundingenvironment and pose a serious risk to the health of wildlife, especially marine organisms. Currently, environmental groups are sounding the alarm: discarded masks exacerbate the situation with environmental pollution with garbage and plastic.

We have been finding masks in huge volumes over the past six to eight weeks. We are already seeing how this contamination affects the environment.

Gary Stokes, founder of Oceans Asia, an organization for the conservation of the marine environment.

It's not just the quantity that is worrying.discarded masks, but also the time during which they will harm the environment. Polypropylene, which is part of the very spunbond, decomposes up to 500 years - in fact, it is an ecological time bomb.

Disposal recommendations

  • Rospotrebnadzor:

Waste generated in residential premises inthe process of life of people who are sick or carriers of any infectious diseases contain an infectious component and pose a certain epidemic hazard to the environment and people involved in the collection, sorting and disposal of solid municipal waste, Rospotrebnadzor said.

At the same time, the experience of other countries in the fight against the pandemicshowed that recommendations on the need to take used masks to a hospital to add them to medical waste are not effective.

Since with a sharp rise in the incidencethe workload of medical facilities and the generation of medical waste are increasing significantly. This can paralyze the system of disinfection, depersonalization and disposal of medical waste in a medical facility.

Therefore, the department recommended that the used disposable mask be placed in a separate bag, hermetically closed and only then thrown into the trash bin.

  • WHO:
  • Before removing the mask from your face, wash or disinfect your hands thoroughly;
  • remove the mask by the ear loops, grabbing them from the back;
  • cut the mask into several pieces (this will help prevent further resale);
  • put the mask in a separate, hermetically sealed bag;
  • leave the mask for three days (during this time, the virus on surfaces may die);
  • discard the mask with household waste;
  • do the same with disposable gloves.

What is the situation with recycling in Russia now?

Every day in Russia, aboutten million used medical masks, respirators, gloves, goggles. All these medical waste belong to the class "B" and "C", that is, they carry the threat of further infection. But if after the hospitals they are disinfected and destroyed according to the rules, then PPE, which people simply get rid of on the streets, are treated like household waste.

The issue of disposal of masks is still not regulated in any way.

As explained in Rospotrebnazor, PPE, which the population uses during a pandemic, now, according to the standards, do not belong to medical waste at all, and therefore there is no regulation.

member of the Public Council for the Protection of Rightsof patients at Roszdravnadzor Alexei Starchenko said that it would be much more correct to put up special tanks for knowingly infected waste, which the operator will not take out to a landfill, but disinfect and destroy.

Which masks are more environmentally friendly to wear?

In the current environment, the safest for the environmentthe use of reusable cloth masks is considered - albeit not as light, convenient, inexpensive and effective as disposable ones. Today they can be found in pharmacies or souvenir shops, as well as made yourself - for example, from gauze folded in several layers.

After three hours of continuous wear, the mask must be replaced. WHO recommends hand washing the used mask with soap or other detergent at a temperature of at least 60 degrees.

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