The Impact of Sharps and Medical Waste on the Environment


about us

For decades, incineration has been a standard method for disposing of sharps and medical waste.  The process of incineration, however, poses enormous environmental and health concerns.  Pollutants are a natural byproduct of combustion, and a serious concern in today's world.  Some of the most dangerous emissions from incineration are dioxins and mercury, which can travel far from their source and become integrated into the crops and livestock that humans rely on for food. 

Dioxins are toxic bioaccumulative pollutants, meaning that they settle in living tissues.  They are carcinogens that can alter the development of cells, and primarily affect the endocrine and immune systems in the human body.  The EPA estimated in 1995 that the incineration of medical waste is the third largest source of dioxin in the United States.  These emissions are a serious threat to public health, along with the many other pollutants released by incineration of medical wastes:  carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, sulfer oxides, hydrogen chloride, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, cadmium, lead, and fine particulate matter.

European researchers, however, estimate that 70% of all pollutant emissions from industrial processes can be eliminated through the use of alternative sources of waste sterilization, such as the autoclave.  Autoclaving of medical waste is a process that utilizes pressurized steam, at temperatures between 120 and 165 degrees Celsius.  Depending on the temperature of each particular autoclaving machine, 15 to 90 minutes of sterilization is required to destroy all bacteria and pathogenic microorganisms within the waste.  The autoclaving method significantly reduces pollutant emissions in the air and sewage systems.  The residual product of autoclaves is safer than the ash produced by incineration, and reduces worker safety hazards.

For these reasons, Mail Your Sharps, Inc. and all of its affiliated facilities dispose of sharps and non-pathological medical waste only by autoclave sterilization.  By using only these EPA approved and permitted autoclave methods, Mail Your Sharps, Inc. strives to keep the harmful effects of sharps and medical waste disposal to a minimum.

Mail Your Sharps, Inc. is a national provider of Mail-Back Sharps Systems, which are ideal for the disposal of needles, syringes, and lancets.  Our programs are approved by the US Postal Service, and comply with all federal and state regulations. We also supply mail-back services for Medical Waste, Amalgam, Mercury, Lead Foil, and many others.

Visit us at www.mailyoursharps.com, or call at 866-210-2744.