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Some elements for reflection

The overall problem cannot be solved in a single way, certainly however, those who deal with the management of infected waste with suitable technologies and systems, procedures and knowledge can plan to make a very important contribution and raise local safety, respect to those who do not take such corrective actions.

The sterilizers wipe out the problem of infections, while producing an energetically useful waste.

From the WHO the list of the main emerging diseases that can cause major epidemics

What are the microorganisms that could cause epidemics in the near future (for which few control measures exist)? A team of scientists and public health experts worked on this question in 2015. The list of diseases identified includes: Crimean-Congo fever, Ebola, Marburg hemorrhagic fever, Lassa fever, Mers, Sars, Nipah virus infection and Rift Valley fever. Three other infections (Chikungunya, Severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome and Zika virus) have been identified as "serious". The diseases that have a high epidemic potential, but are already at the center of specific control and research programs (such as HIV / AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, avian flu and dengue fever) were not included in the list. We think that distributing disinfection material with systems such as the STER-M UNIT and destroying the biological-infectious material on the spot can help to reduce the values that are recorded today.


The huge problem of syringe disposal

If we consider syringes alone, their reuse causes 21 million serious infections (rather conservative estimate). STER sterilizers manage by sterilizing and crushing syringes and all collateral waste that contain pathogens, which normally keep biohazard active.

Two important contributing causes

The first is climate. Rising temperatures greatly promote bacterial growth. The second, microplastics. How does the release of MP into the environment contribute to the spread of antibiotic resistance? The continuous release of degradable MP into the environment contributes to the permanent pollution of ecosystems and their accumulation along the food chain, with both direct and indirect negative effects on human health. Humans that intake food with MP can, in fact, be subject a physical effects, linked to the size of the plastic fragments, chemical effects due to the potential release of monomers, additives and chemical agents, also due to the deterioration of the plastic fragments and finally, a biological action, due to the colonization of MP by pathogenic microorganisms.

Projections

The world-leading medical journal, The Lancet, reports 1.27 million deaths from resistant bacteria in 2019. Add to this number another 4.95 million children who die from generalized infectious causes. The reality is that the trend is growing in a much more worrying way: the previous estimates in fact make projections of 10 million annual deaths from AMR (antimicrobial resistance) by 2050; we now know for certain that “we are already closer to this figure than we thought,” says Chris Murray, co-author of the study and a professor at the University of Washington. The scale of this problem is enormous because diseases such as HIV (680,000 deaths / year) and malaria (627,000 deaths) are less dangerous. Moreover, The Lancet declares that such data can be decidedly underestimated.

 

Current management methods for treating infected waste

WHO recommends incineration to limit biological risk, because if there are no other systems, it is the only way forward. However, it is now well known that the plastics contained in waste give rise to dioxins and furans with serious problems for human health. With our technology we therefore try not to move the problem but to eliminate it completely.

 

This is precisely where the waste should be managed, crushed and sterilized: at the source, with no involvement of transport procedures, that carry further risks of a certain and greater bacterial-viral spread.

Properly sterilizing biohazardous waste contributes to limiting biological risk, contributes to saving human lives, is considerate to the environment, does not generate emissions. It is absolutely important to sterilize infectious risk waste in the shortest time and as close as possible to the place of production.

 

The market is now mature and looking to leverage the advantages of this approach as an alternative to industrial incinerators, or worse, the burying of waste. It has been established that the use of small / medium sized special waste sterilizers is nowadays convenient due to its very low operating costs, especially if the sterilizers are outdated with reliable, consolidated and intelligent technologies.

We have a series of parameters to measure the advantages of sterilization, one of these is the correlation with their productivity, also including the possibility of using the Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF) that is generated.

 

This is obviously not enough. In consideration of the fact that the number of pathogens is very high, while the resources for research and development on diseases are limited; today Neutel is able to offer a closed and finite management control cycle, with the following very important actions:​

  • Adopt procedures to contain viral-bacterial spread;

  • Deploy precise waste collection technologies followed by sterilization;

  • Prove with certainty the successful application of the two previous items, through digital archives, or certifying systems such as the block-chain.

 

Neutel is able to offer these services thanks to the technology of Paolo Cavalieri who in the last thirty years has created systems with a high reputation and with the highest efficiency index.

 

International general health regulations

The international regulatory landscape is still rather lacking and patchy on the treatment of infectious waste. Italian regulations, contained in DPR 254/2003, contain the clearest, strictest and restrictive provisions on the subject, which we present below. This is the reason why our technology today is more performing than others, and records the disposal of ¾ of the 60,000 tons / year in our country.

The types of waste regulated in the DPR 254/2003 are:​

  • Non-hazardous medical waste;

  • Medical waste similar to urban waste;

  • Non-infectious hazardous medical waste;

  • Hazardous medical waste with infectious risk;

  • Medical waste that requires special disposal methods;

  • Waste from exhumation and extumulation, as well as waste deriving from other cemetery activities, excluding vegetable waste from cemetery areas;

  • Special waste, produced outside health facilities, which as a risk is similar to hazardous waste with infectious risk, with the exclusion of menstrual pads.

 

At EU level, if our technical standard UNI10384 - Systems and processes for the sterilization of hospital waste - were transformed into UNI-EN we could have an excellent technical reference, but unfortunately we still do not have such uniformity and each country is different.

At a global level, on the other hand, we have the generic provisions of the WHO which indicate, when in doubt, to burn the waste, but with all the consequences that this entails in terms of atmospheric pollution with dioxins, furans and PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls).

 

Therefore, crushing with sterilization, although not supported globally, neither by technical standards nor by laws, today represents the most advanced norm regarding the treatment of hospital / airport solid waste.

Why sterilize

The sterilization of biohazard waste is currently a valid alternative to the incinerator for a series of advantageous reasons summarized as follows:

  • Treatment close to the place of production, with consequent reduction of biological risk, reduction of road transport and risks of environmental contamination;

  • Immediate and safe treatment: the increase in infections due to the movement of people and the increase in carriers closely linked to the spread of pathogens require making the waste harmless as soon as possible;

  • Sustainable cost of treatment;

  • Significantly low investment when compared to other solutions, with the risk and consequences;

  • Short delivery times compared to other solutions;

  • Reduction of at least 40% of the volume of waste;

  • The final product also constitutes a combustible waste (solid recovered fuel waste) with high calorific value. This leads to a further possibility of cost recovery and creation of a circular economy through the (significant) fuel energy stored in the waste. Otherwise, however, there is the possibility of disposing of it through incinerators, gasifiers, cement factories, but with very different results and approaches.

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