Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Estimation of Solid Medical Waste Production and Environmental Impact Analysis in the Context of COVID-19: A Case Study of Hubei Province in China

Version 1 : Received: 10 April 2021 / Approved: 13 April 2021 / Online: 13 April 2021 (09:09:57 CEST)

A peer-reviewed article of this Preprint also exists.

Journal reference: PLOS ONE 2022
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0259207


COVID-19 greatly challenges human beings in the health sector and leaves behind a large amount of medical waste that poses many potential threats to the environment. In this paper, we compiled relevant data released by official agencies and the media, and conducted data supplementation based on previous studies to calculate the net value of medical waste production in Hubei Province during COVID-19 with the help of a neural network model. Then, we reviewed the data related to the environmental impact of medical waste per unit and designed four scenarios to estimate the environmental impact of new medical waste generated during the epidemic. The results showed that at a medical waste generation rate of\ 0.\ 5\ kg/(\ bed\ \cdot\ d) COVID-19 resulted in a net increase in medical waste volume of about 3366.99 tons in Hubei Province. In the four scenario assumptions, if the medical waste brought by COVID-19 is completely incinerated, it will have a large impact on the air quality. If it is disposed by distillation sterilization, it will produce a large amount of wastewater and waste residue. Based on the results of the study, three policy recommendations are proposed in this paper: strict control of medical wastewater discharge, reduction and transformation of the emitted acidic gases, and attention to the emission of metallic nickel in exhaust gas and chloride in soil. These policy recommendations provide a scientific basis for controlling medical waste pollution.


COVID-19; Medical waste; Environmental impac; China


EARTH SCIENCES, Atmospheric Science

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