Electron-beam technology for Ebola waste?

Dr Suresh D Pillai doesn’t want to sensationalize the use of electron beam technology by solely talking about using it to sanitize Ebola virus contaminated equipment and wastewater.  However, he said, it could be much safer and more cost effective than methods used now.

Pillai is a Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientist and director of the National Center for Electron Beam Research at College Station. The center’s main instrumentation, a 10-million electron volt, 18-kilowatt, electron beam, or eBeam, has primarily been used for research in food safety, food quality, environmental protection and aerospace applications, according to Pillai.

But the technology is capable of being adapted to many other applications, such as the sterilization of and hospital waste, he said. Moreover, eBeam units have the potential of doing these kinds of jobs more effectively and at a lower cost than conventional means.

For some time, hospitals have used similar technology, though at lower power levels, to sterilize equipment. But contagious hospital waste, such as disposable equipment, is typically treated with pressurized steam or incinerated, while wastewater from quarantine units is usually chemically disinfected and then disposed of normally, Pillai said.

Though Pillai, who is trained as a microbiologist, doesn’t question the effectiveness of these means in terms of sanitization, eBeam technology could not only be potentially more cost effective, it would certainly be “greener” environmentally.

more at: http://medicalxpress.com/news/2014-11-electron-beam-technology-sanitize-ebola.html

 

This is exciting news, but seems to be a long way from production. The availability of robust and proven technologies that can be applied to Ebola waste, and other hazardous infectious wastes, close to their point of arising is or practical importance.

Technologies must be rugged and robust, to operate effectively without heavy support demands in remote and resource poor regions. Power is essential; be it electricity or fuel oil it should be in reliable and plentiful supply, and available without interruption.

Treatment technologies must be effective without any necessary pre-treatment of waste. Next comes the issue of treatment residues. How much residue, in what form or condition, and what might be done with it? Waste volume reduction is critically important, as is the total destruction of many disposables that might otherwise find their way back to re-use, with serious consequences due to alarm and panic when it becomes known that previously used waste items are back in circulation or dumped on the local tip.

I have insufficient information about the use of eBeam units. Can it manage all types of healthcare (Ebola) wastes? Does it leave waste unchanged, since if so that would be cause for concern, to separate and segregate treated from untreated items with the highest degree of certainty, upon which rests some important public health concerns.

see also What about Ebola waste?

 

 

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