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East African Journal of Public Health

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Effectiveness of incinerators in the management of medical wastes in hospitals within Eldoret municipality

SM Njoroge, P Koskei, E Chepngeno, L Lutukai, R Okwiri, A Maluki

Abstract


Introduction and Objectives Medical waste incinerators release into the air a host of pollutants that have serious adverse consequences on public health and the environment. This study aimed at determining the effectiveness of incinerators in Eldoret municipality in the management of medical wastes in relation to its maintenance and operation with an aim of giving recommendations towards reducing environmental pollution caused by emission of toxic pollutants and safeguarding the health of the incinerator operators as well as the surrounding communities.
Methodology A cross sectional study was carried out at three health facilities in Eldoret Municipality namely Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital blood Bank Transfusion Centre, Elgon View and Eldoret hospitals. Questionnaires, researcher observation and laboratory investigations of ash samples were used in data collection. The questionnaires were administered to all the personnel operating the incinerators. The ash samples collected were analyzed using Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy.
Results The results showed that the incinerators were operated in substandard conditions due to breakdown of the ignition starter, lack of pollution control equipment, and a low combustion temperature. Laboratory investigation of the ash showed that the levels of the heavy metals tested were high compared to the national and international standards. Forty percent (40%) of the interviewees were aware of the health risks they were exposed to and used protective clothing and equipment.
Conclusions This study showed that the incinerators investigated are maintained and operated in substandard conditions. The ashes produced contain a wide range of toxic pollutants, including concentrated levels of a number of heavy metals. This poses serious environmental health and occupational safety hazard.

Keywords: Incinerator, Medical wastes, Eldoret




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