serious health effects


sufficiently high radiation dose may also affect genetic material. Handling highly active sources, such as those

used in diagnostic instruments (e.g. gallium sealed sources) may cause much more severe injuries, including tissue

destruction, necessitating the amputation of body parts. Extreme cases can be fatal.

The hazards of low-activity radioactive waste may arise from contamination of external surfaces of containers or

improper mode or duration of waste storage. Health-care workers, and waste-handling and cleaning personnel

exposed to radioactivity are most at risk.



ds from health-care waste-treatment methods

In addition to the specific hazards posed by different types of health-care waste, there are occupational hazards

associated with waste-treatment processes. Some are similar to those common in industries using machinery:

Flue gases from waste incinerators may have an impact on people living and working close to a treatment

site. The health risk is most serious where an incinerator is improperly operated or poorly maintained. If

poorly controlled, emissions from waste incinerators may cause health concern from particulates (associated

with increased cardiovascular and respiratory mortality and morbidity); volatile metals, such as mercury

and cadmium (associated with damage to the immune system, neurological system, lungs and kidneys); and

dioxins, furans and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (which are known carcinogens but may also cause other

serious health effects) (Fritsky, Kumm & Wilken, 2001; Levendis et al., 2001; Matsui,

Kashima & Kawano

, 2001;

Brent & Rogers, 2002; Lee et al., 2002; Rushton, 2003; Lee, Ellenbecker & Moure-Eraso, 2004; Segura-Muñoz

et al., 2004).