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Medical Waste Pollution Essay

1271 words - 5 pages

Have you ever wondered about why the air is so bad? Big cities across the world are experiencing drastically poor air quality. The reasons for this are plentiful and the overall hazards which accompany it are frightening. The incineration, or burning, of medical waste has been a major contributor to the current debilitated state of air quality. Unfortunately, society has not been sufficiently cultured on the causes and effects of medical waste pollution. I feel it is imperative that the Earth’s inhabitants become aware of this hazardous waste disposal and arm themselves with education.
When products of any type are broken down, the chemicals witch make up those items are released. The disposal of medical waste contaminated with communicable disease agents, such as HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis B, is becoming a growing concern here in America (Johnson, 1). When medical waste is disposed of, the air becomes saturated with harmful chemicals such as arsenic, lead, copper, and dangerous compounds known as dioxins (Waste 149). Dioxins, or chlorinated dioxins, are really badly toxic substances which affect both humans and animals when released into the Earth’s atmosphere. The effects of these dioxins have been witnessed in animals and also humans. According to an article by scientist Rachel Cohn, a suppressed immune system, birth defects, and death have all been seen in animals exposed to dioxins (Rachel). “Human exposure to dioxins has been found to cause liver damage, as well as risks for developing forms of cancer.” (Rachel). A highly toxic metal known as cadmium is also a run off of medical waste disposal. This waste product is severely harmful to humans as it has been reported to affect liver, kidney, and cardiovascular functioning. Cadmium has also been found to increase an individual’s risk of lung cancer (Smith, p. 2).
In the year 1915, chlorine gas was used in warfare in France (Toxicity). Today, chlorine gas is a dangerous byproduct of medical waste disposal. Bronchitis and tooth corrosion are both long term effects of chlorine gas exposure (Michigan, 2). In increased chlorine levels, an individual may experience irritation in the lungs and difficulty breathing due to shortness of breath. (Michigan) This waste product is emitted from just about all plastic medical supplies we see and use today. “Polyvinyl chloride plastic is the principal chlorine donor in medical waste. Items such as IV bags, oxygen tubing, and even bed trays, release vast amounts of poisonous chlorine into the air we breathe when incinerated with medical waste. In fact, the City of New York has studied and reported that medical gloves and intravenous medication bags make up at least 80% of the overall chlorine content found in medical waste” (Watson 306). It is a frightening dichotomy that these harmful bi-products of waste are coming from the exact establishments created to assist people; hospitals and health care facilities. The disposal of this medical waste is often...

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