From cool trucks to hot furnaces, Pattaya takes steps to protect public & workers from dangers of medical waste

Friday, 23 November 2012 From Issue Vol. XX No. 47 By  Warunya Thongrod

With city hospitals and clinics producing more than 600kg of medical waste a day, Pattaya’s Public Health and Environment Department faces challenges to protect both the public and its own employees.

From temperature-controlled storage containers to special gloves and masks, the department’s Waste Handling and Treatment Office moves hazardous materials daily from medical center to incinerator.

Waste office chief Nattapol Theerawuthiworawet said the city collects waste from more than 200 clinics, hospitals and care facilities, placing bags of hazardous materials in a transport unit kept at 5 degrees Celsius to prevent the spread of bacteria and diseases.

Nattapol Theerawuthiworawet carefully weighs medical waste in preparation to properly dispose of it. Nattapol Theerawuthiworawet carefully weighs medical waste in preparation to properly dispose of it.

The bags themselves must meet Ministry of Public Health standards and be resistant to puncture and corrosive materials. Containers must have sealed lids and be resistant to leakage. The protections are important to keep the waste handlers away from infectious materials, Nattapol explained.

City workers, who receive special training for the medical-waste assignment, must wear thick gloves, aprons and masks to cover their mouths and noses. Heavy-rubber shoes are also required.

The waste initially is stored at a waste-treatment plant in Khao Maikaew, kept at no more than 10 degrees. When enough garbage is accumulated, it’s burned at 760 degrees Celsius and the remaining residue at 1,000 degrees before the ash is buried.

Nattapol said the department urges new health centers to consult the city on its waste-disposal needs and take advantage of training available. Waste-collection rates run 300 baht per month for out-patient clinics and 10 baht per kilogram for facilities with 10 or more beds.

Hospitals wanting further information or wanting to report to officers can contact Pattaya Environment Office at 038-253-255.

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