Seattle Activists Protest for Safe Disposal of Medical Waste

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SEATTLE—Local activists have been protesting at area hospitals over the practice of trucking infectious medical waste through local communities to be treated at a remote facility.

According to Safe Hospitals Safe Communities spokesperson Debra Pelletier, "We are visiting area hospitals to raise awareness about the transportation of medical waste through local communities and ask for safer disposal of medical waste. Nearly 1,000 hospitals now use on-site sterilization technologies that prevent infectious medical waste from being trucked through our neighborhoods, thus stopping the spread of infectious pathogens and preventing possible accidents and spills."

Pelletier added, "Unfortunately, about 85 percent of our nation's hospitals outsource the treatment of their infectious medical waste to a remote facility often tens to hundreds of miles away forcing the hazardous materials to be put on a truck to travel through our communities and by our neighborhood schools," said Pelletier.

One area hospital, Virginia Mason, noted that they were currently conducting a medical waste audit at their facility. Pelletier said she is "pleased to see they were making an effort, however, the firm they are using to perform the audit is a medical waste trucking company."

A federal government report submitted to Congress earlier this year found significant savings at Veteran's Administration hospitals that utilized onsite sterilization technologies to treat infectious medical waste. The study showed that onsite treatment was one-third the cost of outsourcing. The report also went on to document how such on-site programs have also reduced carbon emissions at those hospitals.

Source: Safe Hospitals Safe Communities

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