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Mercury-laden bio-waste segregation a must

Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: The Central Pollution Control Board has written to all State Pollution Control Boards to make the segregation of mercury-contaminated bio-waste a condition for granting authorisation to the healthcare centres.

The new healthcare establishments will have to ensure the mercury-laden waste is properly segregated, treated and disposed of. Approximately 80 per cent of the bio-medical waste is as harmless as any other municipal waste. The rest, however, can have an adverse effect on human and animal health and on the environment. Improper segregation and indiscriminate dumping of this medical waste contaminates general waste.

Under the Hazardous Wastes (Management and Handling) Amendment Rules, 2003, notified by the Centre, if the waste contains mercury and its compounds, whose concentration is equal to or more than the permissible limit, such waste should be categorised as hazardous.To reduce dioxins and furans (the by-products of natural and industrial processes) in the emissions of incinerators, the Government has banned the incineration of chlorinated plastics. It has commissioned a consultancy project for monitoring dioxins and furans in the emission of bio-medical waste incinerators of some major hospitals.

The best techniques and procedures are expected to be developed from the project to reduce the environment releases of dioxins and furans and mercury from the healthcare establishments.

The Government hopes to standardise the methods for monitoring dioxins and furans from the incinerators after studying the project outcome. It is also expected that infrastructure will be set up in a medical institute as a model with the best practices for reduction of dioxins and mercury.

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