Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 has not been found. What has been found is shocking.
The search for flight MH370 has opened the eyes of some to the truly daunting amount of plastic waste in our oceans.
What some people consider a “horror movie” style situation that could only happen in some distant land without proper waste management is actually a reality, and one that we should not take lightly.
Medical waste could easily be contributing to this overall waste problem.
A quick scroll through Twitter will show you that people are worried about the waste in our oceans.
Not only have we not found #MH370, we found an ocean full of garbage along the way. No peace for the family & excessive pollution. Great….
— Tom Qin (@tomgunnerqin) April 2, 2014
— Here & Now (@hereandnow) April 1, 2014
— Payal Sampat (@payalsampat) April 2, 2014
— Talwyn (@TalwynW) April 1, 2014
— Stéphanie Bosset (@39_stephs) April 1, 2014
— OutFrontCNN (@OutFrontCNN) March 27, 2014
The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (1982) encourages nations to take “all measures necessary to prevent, reduce and control pollution of the marine environment from any source.”
How is Medical Waste Part of the Problem?
Almost eight billion needles, syringes and lancets are discarded every year at home or in public places according to the Coalition for Safe Community Needle Disposal.
One major type of waste that must be properly disposed of, for both health and environmental reasons, is sharps waste. What are sharps?
- Needles – hollow needles used to inject drugs (medication) under the skin
- Syringes – devices used to inject medication into or withdraw fluid from the body
- Lancets, also called “fingerstick” devices – instruments with a short, two-edged blade used to get drops of blood for testing. Lancets are commonly used in the treatment of diabetes
- Auto Injectors, including epinephrine and insulin pens – syringes pre-filled with fluid medication designed to be self-injected into the body
- Infusion sets – tubing systems with a needle used to deliver drugs to the body
- Connection needles/sets – needles that connect to a tube used to transfer fluids in and out of the body. This is generally used for patients on home hemodialysis
Who Produces Sharps Waste?
- jails and prisons
- animal shelters
Rather than letting the waste they produce end up in the regular trash and create a hazard, these places need to make sure their waste is properly disposed of.
Proper disposal of medical and biohazard waste is vital. It takes the proper container for sharps container disposal but it also takes care from the medical community. Those who are required to use sharps to maintain a healthy lifestyle must also dispose of their tools safely.
How Can We Dispose of Sharps Properly?
Sharps need to be placed in designated, puncture-proof containers. Sharps containers are boxes that have a special opening at the top where sharps are pushed into the container. This way, if the box is ever knocked over or dropped, these dangerous and contaminated items will not fall out. A medical waste disposal company then takes the containers to their facility where the contents are sterilized and properly thrown away. Sharps of any type, even those used in a home, should never be thrown away in the trash. They should be kept separate from normal household garbage and disposed of through a professional company.
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It is extremely important to have a proper sharps disposal system in place to keep the spread of disease and bacteria at bay. In addition, it is important to make sure this waste ends up in the proper place and is not floating in sewers or washing up on the shores of beaches.
If we work together we can continue to promote proper disposal of sharps waste in the medical and residential communities and prevent this type of waste from contributing to the overall amount of waste winding up in our planet’s oceans.
If you’re a medical practice or business that produces this waste, request a quote from MedPro’s on your medical waste disposal service.
Are you a residential sharps user? Get one of our mail back kits to guarantee that you are properly and safely disposing of your sharps waste.
Do you have a full sharps container of some kind at your home already? Learn about safe needle disposal.
Image Source: CBC News and 5Gyres Institute
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