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Editor in Chief: RAFFAELLO COSSU

SOLID MEDICAL HOSPITAL WASTE IN TIMES OF CORONA : INCREASED VOLUME BUT NO INCREASED BIOHAZARD RISK.

  • Norbert Fraeyman - Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Ghent University, Belgium
  • Eva Van Braeckel - Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Ghent University, Belgium
  • Bruno Verhasselt - Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Ghent University, Belgium
  • Pascal De Waegemaecker - Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Ghent University, Belgium
  • Susanne Mahnik - VAMED-KMB, Austria
  • Marc Hoffmann - University Hospital Jena, Germany
  • Paul Gemmel - Faculty of Economics and Bussiness Administration, Ghent University, Belgium
  • Kristof Eeckloo - Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Ghent University, Belgium
  • Eric Mortier - Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Ghent University, Belgium

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Abstract

The effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on medical waste EWC/EURAL code 180103* (infectious medical waste) and 180104 (non-infectious medical waste) was investigated in 6 university hospitals and 6 general hospitals. Data on the number of in-hospital patients and on quantity and volume of waste were obtained during 2019 (control period) and in 2020 up to March 2021 (COVID-19 period) for the hospitals, from the waste managing company, and from the regional destruction facility. The presence of SARS-CoV-2 on the surface of waste recipients was analyzed using RT-PCR. We found that the effect of the pandemic on the total weight of waste is limited during the first wave (March 2020), while during the second wave, the quantity of waste type 180103* increased. The main effect is a nearly doubling of the volume of waste during both waves caused by the use of cardboard hospital boxes with a yellow inner plastic bag. We demonstrated that the average weight of these cardboard boxes generated for the treatment of COVID-19 patients is significantly lower compared to the weight of the waste from non-COVID-19 patients. COVID-19-related health care activities caused a weight increase of the 180103* waste from historical data (0.2-1.4 kg/day/bed) up to 5-8 kg/day/bed. RT-PCR analysis of swabs demonstrated the absence of viral RNA on personal protection materials and on the surface of recipients containing the waste. We conclude that COVID-19-related hospital waste is predominantly of the EWC 180104 type.

Keywords


Editorial History

  • Received: 12 Feb 2022
  • Revised: 09 Jun 2022
  • Accepted: 09 Jun 2022
  • Available online: 30 Jun 2022

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