Did you know improperly disposing of your medical waste can cost you millions of dollars? Improper disposal could be something as simple as throwing bloody bandages into the regular garbage, to something as irresponsible as dumping your medical waste into the ocean. Not only is this illegal, but it also can injure people, harm wildlife, and even transmit diseases.
Illegally discarding your medical waste can be punished with fines and/or prison time. Companies located everywhere from California to Pennsylvania have been fined anywhere from $200,000 to 20 million dollars! The amount of the fine is dictated by a few factors. Namely the amount of waste illegally discarded, the type of waste, and individual state regulations. Following proper medical waste disposal guidelines, or making sure your waste disposal company does, is very important not only for your company, but also for the environment.
Improper disposal of medical waste can have many negative effects on the environment. Dumping waste in oceans, rivers, or lakes not only harms the marine life, but it can also harm people who visit these places. When medical waste washes up onto shores it is very dangerous for unsuspecting visitors and incredibly difficult to clean up. In the 1980s a company in New York was fined 1 million dollars after the waste they threw in the ocean washed up on several beaches in New York and New Jersey.
Throwing medical waste in the garbage can be similarly devastating on the environment. When the waste is taken to the landfill, it becomes incredibly dangerous. Not only can loose sharps injure garbage workers, but if the landfill is improperly constructed or damaged the discarded waste can contaminate local water supplies.
Danger to Humans
The World Health Organization states that in the year 2000, contaminated syringes caused 21 million cases of hepatitis B, 2 million hepatitis C infections, and 260,000 cases of HIV worldwide. They went on to claim that many of these infections could have been prevented if the sharps had been properly disposed of. While sharps are only account for around 1% of total medical waste generated every year, they are one of the main sources of disease transmission because of improper disposal.
The people in the most danger when waste isn’t disposed of properly are garbage workers, nurses, janitors, and anybody who takes their garbage out!
Have you ever been a victim of improper waste disposal? Let me know in the comments.