If the environment hazard caused by undisposed sanitary napkins is not enough, there is a bigger problem of life-threatening drug resistant pathogens which have been detected from branded sanitary pad samples by team of researchers from Pune.
These pathogens if not destroyed with the sanitary napkins completely, gets released into atmosphere and poses serious health risk.
In a bid to deal this dual problem, the research team from Yashwantrao Mohite College of Arts, Science and Commerce, Bharti Vidyapeeth (Deemed to be University), Pune led by Prof Bharat Ballal have developed a special incinerator that not only helps in complete disposal of the used sanitary pads but also eliminates the pathogens in it.
The incinerator design has received Indian patent.
In Pune, about 1,64,000 (approximately) sanitary pads get generated per month. It is expected that these sanitary pads should be separately collected and following rules for biological wastes, should be separately incinerated.
"However, collection of biological waste is confined to hospitals and laboratories and it is not available to households. Due to such reasons, out of 1,64,000 sanitary pads but only one percent of the sanitary pads get incinerated," Prof Ballal said.
Also the incineration happens at 450 degrees Celsius whereas the recommended temperature for combustion is 800 degrees Celsius.
"This non-scientific approach always generates aerosols/droplet nuclei containing pathogens viz Chronobacter sakazakki and Klebsiella. Such disease causing microorganisms rapidly get disseminated through air and create lot of health problems or diseases," Prof Ballal said.
Informing about the functioning of his incinerator, the Microbiology researcher said It is automated machine where user may put used sanitary pads through the provided door.
"The machine will burn the contents at or around 800ºC. During incineration, carbon particles and pathogen containing droplets and droplet nuclei will be raised within the closed chamber. The machine has very unique and patented construction which traps carbon particles and disease causing organisms," Prof Ballal said.
For this purpose machine has mounted one layer carbon filter and three layered microbial filter.
"No other make in the market can remove pathogens as the patented incinerator does. Per hour 25 to 30 sanitary pads are destroyed with 100% burning efficiency," he said.
Regarding the residue post incineration, Prof Ballal said the ashes do not contain harmful microorganisms hence, it can be disposed in the environment or even can be used preferably as fertilizer for garden plants.
“Lack of incinerators in Goa to destroy used sanitary napkins poses huge risk to environment and health. Our incinerator can help Goa deal with the dual problem scientifically," he added.
Estimated generation of sanitary napkin waste in Goa:
- Total female population of Goa - 7,33,710 (Census 2011 projection)
- Female population menstruating - 5,06,260 (69%)
- Using sanitary napkin - 4,91,072 (97%)
- Average number of sanitary napkins used per cycle per female in Goa - 11
- Total number of sanitary napkins disposed per day in Goa - 1,80,060
- Total number of sanitary napkins disposed in Goa in a year - 6,57,21,816
- The weight of sanitary napkins disposed in Goa per day - 1.8 tonnes
- The weight of sanitary napkins disposed in Goa in a year - 657 tonnes
Disposal of sanitary napkins trend:
- House waste bins - 50%
- Burning - 40%
- Flushing in toilets - 2 %