The aim of this study is to investigate the quality and quantity of hospital wastes in Iran. The generated hospital wastes have been estimated by the number of hospitals and the number of active beds in each province of Iran in 2001. All data and information have been gathered from: (i) Iran Statistics Center, (ii) literature review, and (iii) hospital waste investigations for an average hospital. Physical analyses have been conducted in terms of various materials (plastic, textile, paper, metal, and others) and components (biological, infectious, medical, and regular wastes). Based on the above-mentioned investigation and information, a mathematical model has been developed to calculate the generation of (infectious) hospital wastes for any desired year. Utilizing the model, generated infectious hospital wastes has been estimated as 698,937 tonnes for 2008 (short-term) and 3,494,387 tonnes for 2028 (long-term period). If the real infectious wastes are collected separately, then the generated infectious wastes will be reduced by 15.1% of the above-mentioned amount (139,787 tonnes for 2008, and 698,877 tonnes for 2028). Results of physical analysis show the components of the hospital waste as: (a) infectious, 67.3%; (b) medical, 8.8%; (c) biological, 1.8%; and (d) common municipal wastes, 22.1%. An appropriate collection method requires training the staff at hospitals along with preparation of the required facilities. Of course, both of these requirements are cost intensive.
Environment and natural resources can be polluted, and consequently human beings, animals and plants can be impacted. Hospital wastes, because of their infectious nature, are one of the most dangerous causes of this pollution (Sadeghi, 2002). As a result of developing healthcare technology, the amount of hospital wastes being generated is increasing due to the use of more disposable products (Omrani, 1998). Statistical data confirm this issue, as well. For example, 8 kg hospital wastes per bed are generated in Germany every day (Omrani, 1995), while field investigations show that less than 4 kg are generated in Tehran, Iran. These wastes are categorized as hazardous wastes and in most industrial countries there are special control measures for dealing with them. Hospital wastes include different kinds of wastes such as infectious, radioactive, chemical, heavy metals and regular municipal wastes (DoE, 1998). Transporting this mixed waste to the waste dumping sites causes soil and groundwater pollution, and consequently health hazards for live species (Shirazinejad, 1996). Proper management of hospital wastes through an appropriate method of separation from the source, transportation and disposal can prevent environmental pollution. One of the essential requirements of this management is the availability of reliable data and analysis corresponding to hospital wastes (HCW). Unfortunately, appropriate investigations and statistical analyses have not been conducted in this regard for Iranian HCW (Karimzadeghan, 1996).