Why Do We Need to Know About Cytotoxic Waste Management?

Cytotoxic and Cytostatic waste disposal

A harmful type of waste when exposed to it is cytotoxic waste. But what exactly does it mean? What is it? Stating the obvious, it is the waste that we get from cytotoxic drugs. What is so harmful about it? It’s the danger they pose to cells as they contain toxic chemicals. Sometimes this danger is necessary and works to our benefit when there are certain types of cells (such as cancer cells) that we want to destroy. This is because they prevent cells from replicating and growing. But they can also have the same effect on healthy cells so they can prove very dangerous, and care must always be taken when handling and dealing with these products. Once the product has been used and is considered waste, the risks are still present to anyone who might come into contact with them. 

Again, stating the obvious, the biggest risks revolve around hospitals and other medical facilities. There are many ways that medical staff and any visitors to a hospital could be exposed to dangerous waste materials. They could be ingested, inhaled or absorbed through the skin. The most at risk are those who care for the patients who need cytotoxic drugs and then anyone who could come into contact with the drugs afterwards. Something you may not have thought of is that any of a patient’s bodily fluids could contain cytotoxic drugs so precautions must always be used. These fluids can be contaminated for a whole week after so it’s vital that they are disposed of in the right way. The recommended way of disposing of cytotoxic waste is to incinerate it to ensure it is completely destroyed and the safest way to do this is by using a cytotoxic waste management company.  

So, we’ve mentioned bodily fluids, but what other things could be counted as cytotoxic waste? It could be anything that has contact with cytotoxic drugs, so any personal protective clothing that any members of staff wear (gloves, aprons, masks, etc.), or any medical items used (for example, vials, syringes). 

When it comes to the waste then, what is the best way to handle it? While it is still on your premises, you want to make sure that everyone who is in danger of coming into contact with it is fully aware of what it is and the risks it poses. They should always be wearing all the protective clothing they can. Some choose to wear disposable clothing that can be thrown out as cytotoxic waste afterwards. However, if you wear non-disposable clothing, the risk of contamination is just as strong and so the clothing must be washed separately and even kept in a totally separate laundry bag before it is washed. The person washing the items must also wear protective clothing. Drugs must be handled by those trained and qualified to deal with it. The correct waste containers need to be used for these items and they must be labelled correctly.