Medical Wastes

  • Michael Stachowitsch


When marine debris gets really ugly and hazardous, we’ve gotten to medical wastes. Are sick people medicating themselves on the beach? Is the beach being used by drug addicts? Is the municipal waste treatment system down for repair? Has some company dumped medical or research lab waste into the sea? Unfortunately, any and all these scenarios can be true, sometimes simultaneously. Syringes are perhaps the most common item in this category. If you see one piece of medical waste, the “law of marine debris aggregation” means you’re likely to find more close by. This is the debris that prompts expensive beach closures, and this chapter urges you to keep your eyes open (any maybe your shoes on).


Band-Aid Beach closure Hospital waste Hypodermic needle Medication packaging Syringe 


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    Wagner KD (1990) Medical wastes and the beach wash-ups of 1988: issues and impacts. In: Shomura RS, Godfrey ML (eds), Proceedings of the Second International Conference in Marine Debris. U.S. Dep. Commer., NOAA Tech. Memo, NMFS, NOOAA-TM-NMFS-SWDSC-154.
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    Lee M (1988) CRS report for congress: infectious waste and beach closings. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress, Wash. D.C. 9 Sept. 1988Google Scholar
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    State of New Jersey (2016) Guidance document for Regulated Medical Waste (RMW).

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Stachowitsch
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Limnology and Bio-OceanographyUniversity of ViennaViennaAustria

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