The Vice Presidency of Sustainability, assisted by the Department of Environmental Management and Operational Safety, promotes the implementation of the program for the proper handling and disposal of hazardous waste from UANL entities to comply with the applicable environmental law. This program aims to classify, store, and manage waste transportation and final disposal in collaboration with companies certified by federal authorities, such as the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) and the Ministry of Communications and Transportation (SCT).
According to the General Law for Prevention and Integral Management of Wastes, a hazardous waste is any solid, semisolid, liquid or gaseous material whose owner has disposed of in containers and it can be assessed or undergo treatment. It also contains at least one of the CRETIB properties (corrosive, reactive, explosive, toxic, flammable, biological and infectious).
Therefore, procedure guidelines on hazardous waste classification and collection have been delivered across UANL so that they can be used as a basis for developing the “Manual on the environmentally sound waste treatment” at each hazardous-waste-generating entity.
Some Official Mexican Standards that provide data on the proper identification, storage, and transportation of hazardous waste are mentioned as follows:
The UANL entities listed below are large generators of this waste; thus, they have integrated procedures for the handling and management of hazardous waste into their daily activities:
· School of Chemistry
· School of Dentistry
· School of Medicine and University Hospital
· School of Nursing
· School of Veterinary Medicine
· School of Public Health and Nutrition
· School of Agronomy
· Medical Technical High School
· University Health Center
· Center for Research and Development in Health Sciences
· Center for Innovation, Research, and Development in Engineering and Technology
· UANL Health Services
From January 2016 to June 2017, 294.63 metric tons of hazardous waste underwent final disposal, of which 239.63 metric tons were biological and infectious waste and 55.3 metric tons were chemical waste according to the current environmental law.
Biological and Infectious Waste
According to the NOM-087- SEMARNAT- SSA1- 2002 standard, biological and infectious waste is any residual material from health care services containing agents that can cause harmful effects on human health and the environment. It is classified into five types: blood, infectious cell cultures and strains, pathological waste, non-anatomical waste, and sharps.
From January 2016 to June 2017, the final disposal of 239.33 metric tons of biological-infectious hazardous waste from the UANL entities listed above was carried out, of which 83 percent of was non-anatomical waste (disposable gloves and medical material and disposable containers with blood). The rest included sharps, infectious cell cultures and strains (Graph 1).
Certified companies perform the transportation and confinement of such waste. This way, all of the collected waste undergoes proper management according to the current environmental law.
From January 2016 to June 2017, the abovementioned UANL entities followed the required legal procedures to get their Environmental Registration Number, assisted by the Department of Environmental Management and Operational Safety.
In 1994, the School of Chemistry established a plan for hazardous waste management that earned it the Environmental Quality Certification of the Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection (PROFEPA) four consecutive periods: 2010-2012, 2012-2014, 2014-2016, and 2016-2018.
Expired medications are another type of hazardous waste from homes and workplaces. According to the current environmental law, these should be disposed of by companies with federal authorization from SEMARNAT and SCT because they have qualified staff and equipment to take the necessary safety measures for waste transportation, treatment, and final disposal.
Today, the Federal Commission for the Protection against Sanitary Risks (COFEPRIS) and the Office of Sanitary Promotion and Regulation of Nuevo Leon’s Health Department have implemented a program designed to collect expired medication, aiming at decreasing the risks of intoxication and environmental damage. Once the expired medication is collected from containers at selected drugstores and health centers, they undergo trituration and final disposal.
UANL has installed several containers at the ‘Q.F.B. Emilia Vasquez Farias’ University Pharmacy of the School of Chemistry, the Health Service Unit, and the Medical Technical High School to support the proper collection and disposal of this waste. The expired medication is then taken by the Health Department’s staff to a collection center where is separated by therapeutic class and dosage form. Lastly, a certified authority transports it to its final disposal.
From January 2016 to June 2017, 1,211 kilograms of expired medication were collected from the containers at these university entities.