Water Sanitation Health

Safe management of wastes from healthcare activities

Edited by A. Prüss, E. Giroult and P. Rushbrook
© 1999, WHO
ISBN 92 4 154525 9
Order no. 1150453
Order on line

Safe management of wastes cover

The waste produced in the course of health-care activities, from contaminated needles to radioactive isotopes, carries a greater potential for causing infection and injury than any other type of waste, and inadequate or inappropriate management is likely to have serious public health consequences and deleterious effects on the environment. This handbook - the result of extensive international consultation and collaboration - provides comprehensive guidance on safe, efficient, and environmentally sound methods for the handling and disposal of health-care wastes.

The various categories of waste are clearly defined and the particular hazards that each poses are described. Considerable prominence is given to the careful planning that is essential for the success of waste management; workable means of minimizing waste production are outlined and the role of reuse and recycling of waste is discussed. Most of the text, however, is devoted to the collection, segregation, storage, transport, and disposal of wastes. Details of containers for each category of waste, labelling of waste packages, and storage conditions are provided, and the various technologies for treatment of waste and disposal of final residues are discussed at length. Advice is given on occupational safety for all personnel involved with waste handling, and a separate chapter is devoted to the closely related topic of hospital hygiene and infection control.

The handbook pays particular attention to basic processes and technologies that are not only safe-but also affordable, sustainable, and culturally appropriate. For health-care settings in which resources are severely limited there is a separate chapter on minimal programmes; this summarizes all the simplest and least costly techniques that can be employed for the safe management of health-care wastes.

The guide is aimed at public health managers and policy-makers,, hospital managers, environmental health professionals, and all administrators with an interest in and responsibility for waste management. Its scope is such that it will find application in developing and developed countries alike.

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