Challenges in Adequate Management of Hazardous Medical Waste to Reduce Impact of the COVID-19 Epidemic in Romania
The paper analyses some important challenges faced by the sector of hazardous medical waste (HMW) management in Romania, during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the beginning section, there is a brief presentation of the characteristics and evolution of the epidemic in Romania as compared to the EU and other states, showing the resurgence of cases in the summer of 2020 and the fact that the rate of incidence is high. There is a growing concern on the large additional quantities of hazardous medical waste generated in the context of the pandemic, since according to the recommendations of international health organizations, the proper management of the infectious medical waste is critical for the disease control and for avoiding increased environmental pollution. However, since in the next section there are analysed the main current characteristics and issues of the hazardous medical waste management in Romania (the types of medical waste; legal provisions; the amounts generated, the disposal, processing and treatment facilities, the costs incurred) it may be stated that the COVID-19 pandemic only reinforces the challenges for the management of the already growing amounts of hazardous medical waste having occurred in Romania (from a quantity of 8,900 tons in 2012, rising to 13,031 tons in 2018). Several scenarios of the likely increase in the amount of hazardous medical waste in a short time due to COVID-19 are provided, most probable scenarios B (+50%) and C (+75%) requiring investment in the capacity of hazardous medical waste management, with total values of between 14.67 million € and 18.00 mil. €. In the concluding remarks, to highlight the development and innovation opportunities in dealing with the challenges, the paper proposes a series of measures, investment and mechanisms for the adequate management of the HMW in Romania.
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