How does improper medical waste disposal affect our oceans?


medical waste disposal,improper disposal of medical waste,COVID-19,ocean impact, economic impact

The oceans are an essential part of life, so it’s important to keep them as clean and healthy as possible. The oceans provide more than 70 percent of the world’s oxygen. About 70 percent of water supply also comes from the ocean, meaning that not keeping oceans healthy and free from pollution can have serious negative effects.

Improper medical waste disposal can have a catastrophic impact on the oceans, with a study finding that about 25,900 tons of pandemi-related plastic waste, mostly medical waste from Hospitals in Asia, entered the ocean following the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Hospital waste accounts for the majority of global emissions, about 73 percent, according to the study. Asia is the main polluter, accounting for about 72 percent of global emissions.

Potential hazards of improper disposal of medical waste

Medical waste refers to waste derived from contaminants in medical facilities and other places that may contain biohazard substances. It can be bodily fluids, used bandages, needles, surgical gloves and other waste. Hospitals are major producers of medical waste, as are research laboratories, veterinary clinics and any place where drugs are manufactured or distributed.

Masks are being mass-produced because of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a report in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, 194 billion disposable face masks are used every month worldwide. According to a study by the American Chemical Society, if the world’s population were to use one mask a day, that would add 129 billion discarded masks and 65 billion pairs of discarded gloves each month.

The number is quite large, if not handled correctly, may bring short-term and long-term harm to society, the environment, and human beings themselves:

1. Masks carry the possibility of secondary transmission of the virus.

2. A large part of the discarded protective waste, such as masks, ends up in the ocean. The appearance of the masks is similar to that of jellyfish, which leads to the swallowing of other creatures, greatly affecting the ecological balance of the ocean.

3. The plastic fragments of masks will eventually affect human beings through the accumulation of the food chain.

What’s more, masks are generally composed of non-woven fabrics, activated carbon and other materials. These synthetic ingredients are mainly polypropylene and polyethylene, which are not degraded by hydrolysis and microorganisms. Degradation in the environment may take 400-500 years.


There is medical waste contaminated with blood or other body fluids. These substances can come from people with HIV or acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). Waste may be in the form of used needles or vials. Unfortunately, some facilities simply dispose of this waste in waterways to save on treatment costs. The criminals could be anywhere in the world, and the waste could end up on our continent. This means that even if something isn’t disposed of, it can still end up affecting humans themselves.

Impacts on marine life

When waste is dumped into waterways, it can seriously harm Marine life and other life that lives in the water. If it is absorbed by plants, then it can end up contaminating the fish that feed on those plants. Often, drugs and petri dishes of medical waste end up contaminating the entire food chain of Marine life. When we eat seafood, we don’t want the delicious to become poison.

The economic impact

If the beach or the water around it becomes too polluted, then the beach may have to be closed. This could have a huge economic impact on surrounding communities that rely on tourism for economic development. Mishandled medical waste means needles and syringes can end up washing up on shore in large numbers, so even if the beach doesn’t end up closed, it could lose visitors because it’s notorious for being dirty.


If a facility is not careful with its medical waste disposal, then contaminants containing viruses and bacteria could be exposed to people swimming in our waterways. Up to 15 per cent of waste may contain infectious substances.

As you can see, medical waste disposal is very important for the health of our oceans and for those who want to enjoy them. If your facility needs to ensure that it follows safe medical waste practices, please contact us to help you meet all your medical waste disposal needs and ensure that everyone stays safe.



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