membranes) and a susceptible host (e.g. cleaner, waste worker, scavenger at an open dump site). Some countries with
strong occupational safety programmes and well-designed systems for collection, transportation and disposal may
not consider certain items (e.g. waste with dried blood) as infectious waste; however, in other countries, those same
items may have to be treated as infectious waste if proper waste containers are not available, waste workers have no
personal protection or waste is discarded in open dump sites that are accessible to the public.
Definition and characterization of health-care waste
eneration of health-care waste
Knowing the types and quantities of waste produced in a health-care facility is an important first step in safe disposal.
Waste-generation data are used in estimating the required capacities for containers, storage areas, transportation
and treatment technologies. Waste-generation data can be used to establish baseline data on rates of production
in different medical areas and for procurement specifications, planning, budgeting, calculating revenues from
recycling, optimization of waste-management systems, and environmental impact assessments.
Health-care waste-generation data are best obtained from quantitative waste assessments. An assessment entails
defining goals, planning, enlisting the cooperation of staff, procurement of equipment (e.g. weighing scales,
personal protective equipment), data collection, analysis and recommendations. The process of waste assessment
provides an opportunity to improve current practices, sensitize health workers about waste, and determine the
potential for waste minimization. Implementing rigorous segregation can avoid over-sizing of equipment and
result in cost savings.
The design of a waste-assessment programme can vary. Generally, data are collected regularly (typically daily)