Health Sciences Center Makes Analysis on Biomedical Waste

Article excerpt

By Nancy Raiden Titus Journal Record Staff Reporter A project conducted at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center is expected to yield the most detailed analysis of biomedical waste generated in any state.

The center sent out 8,000 surveys to every biomedical waste generator in Oklahoma that could be identified, said Daniel Boatright, environmental health specialist, to find out where the waste is generated and what is being done with it.

"We are confident that we will be able to describe what is going on in the state," he said.

"We have looked at regulations from all 50 states and have yet to find a state that has explored the issue of biomedical waste in the same degree of detail as we have. None has achieved the same level of response, either."

The surveys were sent to hospitals, nursing homes, physicians'

offices, clinics, blood banks, veterinary clinics and other health-care providers. Boatright said 74 of Oklahoma's 77 counties had reported data.

"In surveying these facilities, we wanted to know how much biomedical waste was being produced, where it was coming from, where it's going, how it's being managed and any problems or difficulties being experienced,"

Boatright said.

Biomedical waste includes products such as syringes, blood and blood products and other items contaminated with blood.

The results of the survey, which began last fall, will be given to the Oklahoma Department of Health at an April board meeting.

Boatright said preliminary data indicate that generators are confused about what biomedical waste is and what they are supposed to be doing with it. Red bags at hospitals, which are supposed to be used for infectious material, have held such items as pizza boxes and soda cans.

Much of the biomedical waste is incinerated at a facility in Stroud. …