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  3. Sunday, 10 August 2008
POST 01302E: SYRINGE MELTING DEVICES FOLLOW-UP ON POST 01285E 10 AUGUST 2008 ******************************************* Dear Moderator, In response to Anthony Battersby's syringe melting posting of 30 June 2008, PATH would like to offer the following thoughts on the subject: PATH has conducted three field evaluations of several different designs of syringe melters to assess usability, acceptability, system-fit of each design, and of the class of devices overall. Two of the devices evaluated were powered by biomass fuel; the third was a passive solar melter design. For the complete results of one evaluation of biomass melters please refer to the report posted to TechNet in June 2007 (POST 01103E). A report on a second evaluation of a modified biomass melter design is forthcoming. Biomass melters: The biomass syringe melters performed relatively well with no visible smoke, but often produced a strong odor. Health workers occasionally found sharps protruding from the melted plastic blocks. Though no longer infectious, protruding needles present a risk of injury. In such cases, disposal of these plastic blocks in a protected pit may be a viable solution. In general, participants found the biomass melters easy to use and maintain, practical for managing small volumes of sharps waste, and affordable to operate. Melting of used syringes reduces the volume of plastic by approximately 5 to 10 times. Challenges related to acceptability include: the need for appropriately designed containers for point-of-use syringe collection and melting; the need for supervision of the melter to maintain temperatures; and a strong smell from fumes produced during the melting process. The potential effect of these emissions on communities and the environment is not yet known. Solar melters: During the evaluation, the solar melter successfully melted syringes when there was sufficient sun to achieve proper melting temperatures. Although the amount of solar radiation accumulated by several designs of solar collectors is theoretically sufficient to melt medical grade polypropylene and polycarbonate syringes, in practice the prototype design did not achieve consistent and reliable performance with an acceptable level of health worker skill and labor. Other designs have been developed but not rigorously tested. Proper placement of the solar melter is essential, as is ensuring the melter site will experience enough sunny days to melt syringe waste on a regular basis. Sequential days without sun and seasonal changes in the position of the sun are limitations. Further exploration is needed to determine if syringe melters can be optimized to provide an affordable sharps waste management alternative, specifically one that does not emit harmful gasses and that also isolates the sharps waste at point of use, produces plastic blocks of a consistent quality for recycling (when used in combination with needle removal), and does not require significant extra work for the health worker or result in unacceptable expenses incurred by the health facility. Electric melters are another approach and need to be further tested, particularly in certain urban environments where the melted plastic blocks could be safely and consistently channeled to recyclers or into the domestic waste stream. Sincerely, Nancy Muller ([email=nmuller@path.org]nmuller@path.org[/email]) Senior Program Officer PATH Post generated using Mail2Forum (http://www.mail2forum.com)


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