Ebola outbreak demands medical waste rethink

An Ebola outbreak could expose UK medical waste disposal methods as “too reliant on out-dated procedures”, according to waste management expert Peter Selkirk.

Selkirk has warned that current medical waste procedures could put those who handle the waste at risk of infection, with current processes not providing adequate protection for those involved.

Calling for producers of high-risk waste to “re-evaluate” their disposal processes, Selkirk said:

“The UK is woefully underprepared when it comes to hazardous waste disposal in high-risk environments and too reliant on out-dated procedures that leave those responsible for waste collection vulnerable and open to infection.”

Given the threat Ebola would pose to public health should it spread to UK shores, Selkirk has called for businesses who handle high-risk waste to significantly boost infection control and reduce the chances of contamination.

Selkirk went on to say: “It is too risky to continue the outdated practices of storage of infected hospital waste and its transportation over the highways to incinerators.

There are a number of ‘touch points’ through the cradle to grave waste disposal chain where manual handling poses a risk.”

Ebola has devastated parts of Western Africa, and the World Health Organisation has declared an international public health emergency.