Green board guidline on medical waste
The Central Pollution Control Board has issued a revised guideline about management of biomedical waste linked to Covid-19, outlining roles of urban local bodies and state pollution control boards in handling and treatment of waste generated by those quarantined at home.
Municipalities and municipal corporations have been mandated to collect medical waste from homes where suspected coronavirus cases are quarantined, in yellow bags and hand them to biomedical waste management facilities.
The guideline — issued by the member secretary of the central board, Prashant Gargava — has been sent to all Union and state-level departments concerned, state pollution control boards and civic bodies.
A senior official of the board said they had to issue the revised guideline because biomedical waste related to home quarantine was not being collected in most municipal areas across the country. This despite an earlier guideline on the matter issued by the central board about three weeks back.
According to public health professionals, biomedical waste generated by those in home quarantine can potentially be a source of infection if it is not disposed of properly.
The latest guideline says civic bodies should “create a separate team of workers who shall be engaged in door-step waste collection”. The workers should be trained in collecting such waste and given dedicated vehicles.
None of the civic bodies in Bengal has started collecting biomedical waste linked to home quarantine.
“We are yet to initiate the process. We will look into the revised guideline and try to act accordingly,” Debabrata Majumdar, the mayoral council member in charge of waste management at the Calcutta Municipal Corporation told Metro on Monday evening.
According to the state health department, 43,104 people were in home quarantine as of Tuesday. Experts observe that even if a small fraction of them happens to be infected with the coronavirus, inappropriate management of biomedical waste generated by them can prove disastrous.
“Biomedical waste comprises used masks, gloves, tissues and cotton, medicine leftovers and any other materials disposed of. Unless the waste is collected separately and incinerated, the risk of infection from those items remains high,” said Utpal Chattapadhyay, the director of the All India Institute of Hygiene & Public Health.
“The risk increases many times if such waste gets mixed with normal waste,” said Arunava Majumdar, a scientist formerly with the institute of hygiene and public health.
“We are looking into it,” a health department official said.