Medical waste, needles found dumped on Mumbai’s Mahim beach, behind hospital
Large quantities of biomedical waste, including medical bottles, syringes and needles, were found dumped on the sea shore behind PD Hinduja Hospital in Mahim, two months after a similar incident was reported at Dadar beach.
While hospital authorities said they haven’t dumped the waste, the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) is yet to track down the offenders. “We segregate and dispose of all sharp and biomedical waste at source and dispose it of, according to the MPCB guidelines, through authorised vendors. We would like to clarify that the medical waste has not been generated by the hospital or disposed of by the hospital staff,” said the spokesperson of the hospital.
Waste from hospitals, nursing homes, blood banks and veterinary institutes such as used syringes, bandages, amputated body parts and other human and animal bio-waste is called biomedical waste. It cannot be mixed with the garbage at landfill sites and has to be treated in accordance with the Bio-Medical Waste (BMW) (Management and Handling) Rules, 1998. If not disposed of properly, the waste can be a source of infection.
A group led by Jay Shringarpure that cleans the third exit of Dadar beach found more than 100-125 used syringes and a heap of medicine bottles on Mahim beach. They uploaded the video on social media, with thousands sharing it and commenting how needles, syringes and medicine bottles could pose a threat to those taking a stroll along the beach. “Despite repeated alerts, MPCB hasn’t taken any action. This time, the waste was found behind a hospital, but the officials still need photographic or videographic proof of it,” said Shringarpure.
The waste is also putting the clean-up volunteers at risk as they are unaware of the safety guidelines or disposal norms. “Every healthcare provider has a process of discarding and crushing the needles. Uncrushed needles indicate the waste hasn’t gone through the safe disposal channel of sterilisation,” said infectious diseases expert Dr Om Srivastava. “Apart from infections such as Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV that spread through the prick of a used needle, other bacterial infections namely staphylococcus (can cause food poisoning resulting in nausea, vomiting and stomachache) and streptococcal (sore throat, fever, swollen lymph nodes, rash, low blood pressure, and tissue destruction and number of other infections) spread because of the body fluids present on the biomedical waste. It is risky for those who come in close contact.”
MPCB officials are clueless. “It is a challenging task to find who is dumping the waste as there is a possibility that it may have been dumped at a different site and later washed ashore. We are probing it,” said Dr G Sangewar, regional officer, MPCB.