Environmental Health - Essay Example

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Environmental Health Learning Activity Name Institutional Affiliation Environmental Health Learning Activity Health Care Industry and Pollution (QSEN Competency: Safety) From among the health care industry environmental health hazards that were listed, medical waste is selected and to be described in greater detail through the responses below: 1…
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Download file to see previous pages Environmental Protection Agency, 2012). The definition of medical waste was effectively provided in the Medical Waste tracking Act of 1988 which aptly states its meaning as “"any solid waste that is generated in the diagnosis, treatment, or immunization of human beings or animals, in research pertaining thereto, or in the production or testing of biologicals." This definition includes, but is not limited to: blood-soaked bandages; culture dishes and other glassware; discarded surgical gloves; discarded surgical instruments; discarded needles used to give shots or draw blood (e.g., medical sharps); cultures, stocks, swabs used to inoculate cultures; removed body organs (e.g., tonsils, appendices, limbs); and discarded lancets” (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2012, p. 1). 2. Describe the factors that contribute to its toxicity. Information from the World Health Organization (WHO) revealed that as much as 20% of medical wastes are classified as hazardous which “may be infectious, toxic or radioactive” (WHO, 2011). The factors that allegedly contribute to its toxicity include presence of micro-organisms, as well as preponderance of specifically identified drug-resistant micro-organisms. Likewise, disposing of these medical wastes improperly could pose indirect risks in terms of release of toxic pollutants. As emphasized, “incinerated materials containing chlorine can generate dioxins and furans2, which are human carcinogens and have been associated with a range of adverse health effects. Incineration of heavy metals or materials with high metal content (in particular lead, mercury and cadmium) can lead to the spread of toxic metals in the environment” (WHO, 2011, p. 1). 3. Name the environmental and occupational sources of exposure to it. The environmental and occupational sources of exposure to medical wastes include landfills, which “can contaminate drinking-water if they not properly constructed. Occupational risks exist at disposal facilities that are not well designed, run, or maintained” (WHO, 2011, p. 1). Likewise, medical wastes which are not properly incinerated pose significant hazards. 4. How is it evaluated and treated? According to the Healthcare Environment Resource Center, medical wastes were previously monitored and regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency; but currently, various states have allegedly taken control and governance. The different regulations that stipulate guidelines and monitor, evaluate and treat medical wastes include: the State Medical Waste Regulations, OSHA Regulations, the US EPA Regulations, as well as the Department of Transportation (DOT) Regulations (Healthcare Environment Resource Center, n.d.). 5. What action could you, the nurse, take to reduce exposure of yourself, your co-workers, patients, and the community? As a nurse, the action that must be taken to reduce exposure to medical wastes include adherence to safety procedures as prescribed by OSHA and infection control. Likewise, proper disposal in designated waste receptacles must be followed. In addition, the role of nurses in educating other health care practitioners on its hazard and possible effects, if contaminated, should be enforced as a firm advocate for promoting a safe and secure environment. 6. List at least three web sources about it. References Healthcare Enviro ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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