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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter April 4, 2013

The impact of incinerators on human health and environment

  • Raman Sharma EMAIL logo , Meenakshi Sharma , Ratika Sharma and Vivek Sharma


Of the total wastes generated by health-care organizations, 10%–25% are biomedical wastes, which are hazardous to humans and the environment and requires specific treatment and management. For decades, incineration was the method of choice for the treatment of such infectious wastes. Incinerator releases a wide variety of pollutants depending on the composition of the waste, which leads to health deterioration and environmental degradation. The significant pollutants emitted are particulate matter, metals, acid gases, oxides of nitrogen, and sulfur, aside from the release of innumerable substances of unknown toxicity. This process of waste incineration poses a significant threat to public health and the environment. The major impact on health is the higher incidence of cancer and respiratory symptoms; other potential effects are congenital abnormalities, hormonal defects, and increase in sex ratio. The effect on the environmental is in the form of global warming, acidification, photochemical ozone or smog formation, eutrophication, and human and animal toxicity. Thus, there is a need to skip to newer, widely accepted, economical, and environment-friendly technologies. The use of hydroclaves and plasma pyrolysis for the incineration of biomedical wastes leads to lesser environmental degradation, negligible health impacts, safe handling of treated wastes, lesser running and maintenance costs, more effective reduction of microorganisms, and safer disposal.

Corresponding author: Raman Sharma, Hospital Administration, Government Medical College and Hospital, Room 229, Level II Block D, MS Office, Sector 32, Chandigarh 160030, India

Received: 2012-12-13
Accepted: 2013-3-1
Published Online: 2013-04-04
Published in Print: 2013-04-01

©2013 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin Boston

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