Coronavirus pandemic has led to the generation of biomedical waste, which if not treated properly, may result in adversely impacting the health of human beings, animals, and the environment in general. Keeping this in view, the Central Pollution Control Board, under the Ministry of Environment, Forest, Climate Change issued guidelines on how to dispose-off biomedical waste.
India is among the few countries that took proactive steps in the direction of biomedical waste management.
Further, a person infected with covid, quarantine at home must know how to properly treat their waste without it being hazardous for anyone else.
**What is biomedical waste?
Biomedical waste refers to any kind of waste generated from hospitals in the process of treatment of a patient. These wastes, whether liquid or solid in form, may cause infection and thus, need to be treated with care.
Due to Covid-19, biomedical waste generation has increased. It includes wastes such as used syringes, PPE kits, goggles, face shields, masks, gloves, and so on.
These wastes are contaminated and may cause infection, if not handled properly.
**Guidelines by CPCB regarding waste disposal**
The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has issued guidelines for the proper handling, treatment, and disposal of waste generated during the treatment/diagnosis/ quarantine of Covid-19 patients. Any person- covid infected or caretakers or isolation wards must comply with these guidelines to remain safe from the biohazards that these medical wastes may have.
In its guidelines, the Board has advised that the medical wastes shall first be segregated accordingly and then be thrown away only in the colour bin/containers for the said purpose.
For eg, waste such as used syringes, IV sets, and all used PPEs such as goggles, face-shields, splash-proof apron, plastic coverall, hazmet suits, nitrile gloves, and all used plastic PPEs should be thrown in the ‘RED’ bin; used masks, heaf cover, disposable linen gown, non-plastic or semi-plastic coverall, anatomical waste, soiled waste, discarded medicines in the ‘YELLOW’ bin; glass and metal waste in the ‘BLUE’ bins.
**Guidelines for isolation wards**
Isolation wards taking care of covid patients shall,
-Keep separate colour bins and throw wastes accordingly.
-The bins shall be protected with double layers of bags to prevent leakage and maintain adequate strength.
-Biomedical waste shall be collected and stored separately before handing over the same to Common Biomedical Waste Treatment Facility, CBWTF. The bins should be properly labeled as Covid-19 waste for easy identification, proper treatment, and disposal upon receipt.
– Maintaining a separate record of waste generated from COVID-19 isolation wards.
**How to handle waste when infected and at home?**
The caretakers or the covid patient themselves should collect all the biomedical waste separately in yellow-coloured bag (suitable for biomedical waste collection) provided by the Urban Local Bodies (ULB). This waste should be handed over safely to an authorised waste collector engaged by the local body.
CBWTFs will pick up the waste either directly from such quarantined houses or identified collection points.
**General do’s and don’ts**
-It is important that general waste not having contamination should be disposed off as solid waste as per the SWM Rules, 2016.
-All the containers/ bins or trolleys used for storage of Covid-19 waste, should be disinfected with 1% sodium hypochlorite solution daily.
**Covid19BWM – Mobile app**
One can use the COVID19BWM app to exchange information between various stakeholders. The application tracks the generation, collection, and disposal of Covid-19 biomedical waste from various sources such as healthcare facilities/hospitals (HCF), quarantine centers, isolation wards, testing labs, to name a few.
**Why important to treat it properly**
Biomedical wastes are hazardous and they must be treated well, to eliminate the risk of a widespread infection, water, air, or soil pollution. Moreover, there have been reports where kids and animals are playing with these wastes, which is not healthy for them or anyone associated with them.