Medical waste characterization

K. F.V. Wong, R. Narasimhan, R. Kashyap, J. Fu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Disposal of medical waste has emerged as an important problem in this country. The public is increasingly aware of the threat of improper disposal of medical waste, particularly waste contaminated with communicable disease agents. Given the general lack of knowledge about the composition of biohazardous waste and the large amount generated, it is difficult to assess strategies for waste reduction. The present work presents important results of medical waste characterization performed by dissection of red bags and actual hand separation. The results of medical waste characterization at two large hospitals in the state of Florida show a substantial proportion of the waste being plastic and paper. The waste characterization data obtained were statistically analyzed using the t-test. In addition, front-end mass balance studies were done to estimate the amount likely to end up as red bag waste thus, confirming the back-end studies which were performed by hand separation. This methodology of waste characterization by direct back-end studies and indirect front-end confirmation may be applied to other hospitals. Plastic characterization was also carried out to differentiate between different types of plastic resins appearing in the waste stream.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)19-25
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Environmental Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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