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Environmental Risk from Microbial Waste

Microbial waste may harm the environment and spread the diseases therefore it is important to dispose the pharmaceutical microbial waste properly.
Microbial waste includes any product that emanates from or has been used in tampering with microbes. This includes discarded cultures of microorganisms and infectious agents i.e. bacilli, discarded microbial specimens from pharmaceutical laboratories, pathological or research institutes, live and attenuated vaccines that have been discarded are also considered as waste and lastly, disposable Petri-dishes and all other containers and bottles that have been used in storage and transportation of specimens. Microbial wastes from pharmaceutical premises can either be a solid waste or liquid effluents.

Environmental risk refers to any potential or actual danger to the environment that is likely to be the hazardous i.e. microbial waste. The environment is susceptible to the above products when released from the factory /industries without the necessary caution and pharmaceutical guidelines.

Microbial Waster in PharmaceuticalEnvironmental Pollution from Pharmaceutical Microbial Waste
Pharmaceutical industries cause pollution by releasing toxic substances into the environment by various methods. For liquid effluents, they are released into the drainage systems i.e rivers, lakes while solid waste can be buried deep in the ground. They all have got devastating effects on the environment at large. The following are the risks that could prove potentially dangerous to the environment.

A) Damage to the Plants
Plants include crops grown by farmers and trees in general. The release of microbial wastes to the nearby communities may lead to stunted growth of the crops and other plants. The microbial wastes release toxins that alter the normal growth of the plants due to micro toxins thus slowing the growth of plants. In the long run, this reduces the farmer's harvest. In an agricultural dependent country, this greatly affects the GDP and general country economy.

B) Increase Antibiotic Resistance among Population Living Nearby
In most cases, antibiotic resistance has been linked to non-adherence to drugs but the increased number of a certain population being known to be resistance has raised questions. Research has proved that microbial content from pharmaceutical industries that gets into contact with crops and water sources gets its way into the human system. They get it through ingestion of water and crops. This build-up of antibiotic wastes makes the body resistant to normal antibacterial drugs.

Individuals who are antibiotic resistance suffer when attacked with the simple microorganism, unlike people who aren't resistant. Some succumb to preventable diseases simply because they are resistant to antibiotics. This leads to cost increment and wastage of resources in the attempt to diagnose the right treatment for the condition.

C) Disease-Causing Microbial Waste
Some of the microbial waste released to the environment could be highly infectious. This includes certain bacteria i.e the bacilli species and Clostridium species which are extremely infectious and survive for long on the ground as they await a host to attach to. Disposing such organisms into the water poses an environmental risk to the population. This will enable the spread of infectious agents and also worsen existing diseases.

D) Death of Aquatic Life
Releasing pharmaceutical microbial products to the environment has a deleterious effect on the life of living organisms which reside in water. Introduction of toxins causes damage to the normal conducive ecosystem and thus disrupts the aquatic life. Due to these toxins, most fish, die and a common sign of dead fish have been evident as they float lifelessly on the water in large numbers.

Methods of Biological Waste Disposal
The environmental risks could be reduced or minimized by performing the following practices on the discarded microbial products. The infectious waste disposal includes - Incinerating solid wastes, recycling unused bottles, photodegradation, advanced oxidation processes for liquid wastes and lastly vermicomposting.

Pharmaceutical microbial wastes have a negative impact on the environment. This results in damage to the ecosystem and ecological balance control of microbial waste are therefore vital for environmental conservation.

Ankur Choudhary is India's first professional pharmaceutical blogger, author and founder of pharmaguideline.com, a widely-read pharmaceutical blog since 2008. Sign-up for the free email updates for your daily dose of pharmaceutical tips.
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