Medical Waste Management in Poland – the Legal Issues
Agnieszka Zimmermann1, Robert Szyca2
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1Department of Nursing, Medical University of Gdansk, Do Studzienki Str. 38,
80-227 Gdansk, Poland
2Chair of Public Health, Collegium Medicum of Nicolas Copernicus University,
Sandomierska 16, 85-830 Bydgoszcz, Poland
Pol. J. Environ. Stud. 2012;21(4):1113–1118
This paper discusses the issue of medical waste, which is highly significant from the perspective of environmental protection. It describes the waste classification criteria, the methods of its collection, and neutralization. They are based on the legislation, including above all the Waste Act of 27 April 2001. The priority goal of the Act is to ensure that human health and life are protected. The Act was drawn up as a transposition of European directives. Analyzing the current legislation in force, the paper notes that the Polish legislature in the amendment to the Act of 2005 allowed medical infectious waste, posing an epidemiological threat, to be neutralized exclusively by means of incineration, excluding the possibility of using alternative methods. Thus the legislature expressed the view that only this method, despite its numerous disadvantages, is the most appropriate one for biohazardous waste. Moreover, due to the new provision of the Act, the expenses borne by hospitals to set up the infrastructure for alternative neutralization methods have proved to be unnecessary investments. The appropriate supervision over infectious medical waste management from the perspective of environmental protection, epidemiology, and occupational safety is a vital element in the development of a medical waste management system, but economic factors also should be taken into account.