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The management of hazardous waste has two purposes. On the one hand, it seeks to reduce the risks of contact of these substances with human beings, and on the other hand, to recover useful materials and store them in appropriate places.
According to the SEMARNAT’s Register of Hazardous Waste Generators, between 2004 and 2014 the 93,355 registered companies generated 2.19 million tons of hazardous waste. This figure does not reflect the total volume of waste generated in the country, since this registry does not include all those companies that produce waste in the national territory.
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).
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:
Some of the hazardous waste generated at UANL entities include the following:
|Dyes used in microbiological staining
||Water or oil-based paints
|Organic solvents or Paint thinners, paint removers.
|Waste oils (dielectric and hydraulic lubricants)
|Inks, varnishes and toner cartridges.
||Air conditioning refrigerants
||Glass and plastic containers which stored dangerous substances.
|Blood and body fluids.
||Sharp objects used in clinical areas.
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:
|Facultad de Ciencias Químicas
||Instituto de Ingeniería Civil
|Facultad de Ciencias Forestales
||Centro Universitario de Salud (CUS)
|Facultad de Odontología
||Centro de Investigación y Desarrollo en Ciencias de la Salud (CIDICS)
|School of Medicine and University Hospital.
||Center for Innovation, Research, and Development in Engineering and Technology (CIIDIT)
|School of Nursing.
||UANL Health Services
|School of Veterinary Medicine.
||Capilla Alfonsina University Library
|School of Public Health and Nutrition.
||High School No. 7
|School of Agronomy
||High School No. 8
|School of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering.
||High School No. 19
|Medical Technical High School.
||High School No. 25
|‘Alvaro Obregon’ Industrial and Technical High School
From January 2019 to June 2020, 322.7 metric tons of hazardous waste underwent final disposal, of which 82 % were biological and infectious waste and 18 % 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 2019 to June 2020, the final disposal of 265.94 metric tons of biological-infectious hazardous waste from the UANL entities listed above was carried out, of which 81 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).
Gráfica 1. Classification of biological and infectious waste from January 2019 to June 2020
During the same period, 56.76 metric tons of chemical waste were disposed of, where 14.37 metric tons were solid waste (Graph 2) and 42.39 metric tons were liquid waste (Graph 3).
Graph 2. Classification of solid chemical waste from January 2019 to June 2020.
Graph 3. Classification of liquid chemical waste from January 2019 to June 2020.
Another important step is to obtain registration as a waste generator before SEMARNAT. According to the average estimate of hazardous waste generated in a year, five university entities already have their Environmental Registration Number.
The transportation and storage of this type of waste is carried out by companies authorized by the pertinent authorities, in such a way that 100% of the collected waste is subjected to a treatment that complies with current environmental regulations.
Expired Medications Biological and Infectious Waste
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 2019 to June 2020, 368.5 kilograms of expired medication were collected from the containers at these university entities.
Environmental Quality Certificate
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, and 2018-2020.
- Technical Guidelines on Hazardous Waste Handling and Management