Waste from hospitals and clinics is generally disposed of separately from other waste. It includes human blood and blood products, pathological and other tissues, syringes and used needles, cultures and stocks of infectious agents and other potentially infectious material, low level radioactive waste and cytotoxic drugs. These wastes present occupational health risks to those who generate them, as well as to those responsible for their packaging, storage, treatment and disposal. When the disposal systems are ineffective or the medical waste dumped illegally, the public is exposed to highly infectious debris. Other potential environmental dangers include the release of the anaesthetic gas halothane, a CFC-like agent; the disposal of radioactive isotopes used for X-rays; and the disposal of unwanted drugs.
New York City produces 800 lbs of potentially infectious medical waste each week and the rest of New York State produces an additional 1000 lbs some of which is being improperly disposed.