Thermochemical Characterization and Environmental Evaluation of COVID-19 related medical waste

Güçlü, Umut
The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically expanded the use of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE). The most commonly used PPEs against the COVID-19 virus were masks, gloves, face shields, and protective gowns. The disposable nature of most PPE generated a waste problem soon after the pandemic started. This waste problem and the constant usage of these PPE in hospitals have made it clear that there was an urgent need to investigate the thermochemical characteristics and environmental effects of the associated medical wastes. This study investigated the pyrolysis and combustion characteristics and ash compositions of the most commonly used PPEs. In contrast to previous studies, which have focused on the characterization of these waste materials individually, the present study investigated the co-combustion of PPE, which provided a realistic analysis of the ongoing waste disposal procedures. A specific combination of the medical waste blend, consisting of face mask, medical gown, and nitrile glove, was prepared based on the actual waste compositions of the COVID-19 services of several local hospitals. Thermogravimetric analysis was conducted on both the combined waste and the individual components. The results showed a synergistic effect during the co-combustion of polypropylene-based materials with nitrile gloves, as a decrease in polypropylene-based materials' peak and burnout temperatures. Ash compositions were investigated with SEM-EDX and ICP-OES analyses. The slagging inclination of the bottom ash was investigated with conventional methods, and the results showed that slagging risks have decreased in the co-combustion of the medical wastes.
Citation Formats
U. Güçlü, “Thermochemical Characterization and Environmental Evaluation of COVID-19 related medical waste,” M.S. - Master of Science, Middle East Technical University, 2023.