EVALUATION OF HEALTH CARE WASTE MANAGEMENT IN SELECTED HEALTH FACILITIES IN KIAMBU COUNTY, KENYA
Keywords:Medical waste incinerators, location, construction, operation, heavy metals
The international Convention on the Elimination of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) lists medical waste incinerators among the main dioxin and furans sources in the environment. However, medical waste incinerators emit a wide range of pollutants besides dioxins and furans. These include heavy metals (lead, mercury and cadmium), fine dust particles, hydrogen chloride, sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and other pollutants such as Products of Incomplete Combustion (PICs) into the atmosphere. The composition of health care waste generated can guide decisions on what disposal method is required for a particular health care facility. The purpose of this study was to evaluate health care waste management practices and compliance to the burn technology among the selected hospitals in Kiambu County, Kenya. Questionnaires were used for collecting information from respondents; analysis of heavy metal contaminants was done to ascertain the composition of the health care wastes. On the location of the incinerator, the study found that most of the burners were located close to areas inhabited by people, 62.5% of all being located near agricultural areas. 50% of all the burners were built near valleys and ridges which increased the dispersion area and health risk and few were built near wooded places (37.5%). Regarding the construction of the burner, the study found that 62.5% of the health centers studied had overhead shelter and protective enclosure for them. The study also found that only 50% of the health centers had constructed pits. The study further found that most common potential harmful chemicals that can be found around the health centre burners were emitted during combustion and the residual ash had a heavy component of metallic pollutants. A total of 10 (ten) health care facilities were selected. Bottom/fly ash samples were also collected from the burners/incinerators in the health care facilities visited.