Medical Waste on McGee Beach
A family vacationing on McGee Beach in Corpus Christi cut their visit short when they found medical waste floating in the water their children were swimming in, the Caller Times is reporting. The family was at the beach on July 15 when one of the children carried a syringe out of the water, prompting the child’s grandparent to notify Corpus Christi-Nueces County Public Health District and get the children tested for harmful exposure.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines medical waste as “any solid waste that is generated in the diagnosis, treatment, or immunization of human beings or animals, in research pertaining thereto, or in the production or testing of biologicals.” Medical waste can expose the public to infectious diseases, radioactive waste, and blood-borne pathogens.
The EPA estimates that 3.2 million tons of medical waste is produced in the United States every year.
Examples of Medical Waste
The World Health Organization classifies medical waste in several categories:
- Infectious: material-containing pathogens in sufficient concentrations or quantities that, if exposed, can cause diseases (this includes waste from surgery and autopsies on patients with infectious diseases)
- Sharps: disposable needles, syringes, saws, blades, broken glasses, nails or any other item that could cause a cut
- Pathological: tissues, organs, body parts, human flesh, fetuses, blood and body fluids
- Pharmaceuticals: drugs and chemicals that are spilled, outdated, contaminated, or are no longer required
- Radioactive: solids, liquids and gaseous waste contaminated with radioactive substances
- Others: waste from the offices, kitchens, rooms, including bed linen, utensils, paper, etc.
Injuries Caused by Medical Waste
- Radiation burns
- Sharps-inflicted injuries
- Exposure to toxic elements/compounds like mercury or dioxins
- Exposure to pharmaceutical products (in particular, antibiotics and cytotoxic drugs)
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