Move over the black plastic body bags, white cotton body bags will be used to wrap the bodies of deceased Covid-19 patients in Bengal while being taken for cremation. Health officials said the state introducing environment-friendly cotton body bags will reduce pollution and protect electric incinerator.
So far, bodies were wrapped in plastic bags to prevent leakage of body fluids and protect the people handling the bodies. But with the plastic bags melting in the electric furnace, there have been complaints about incinerators being damaged. “Furnaces are overworked. On the top, melting plastic bags are damaging the furnaces often,” said the in-charge of a crematorium in the city designated for bodies of Covid-19 victims.
Though the state health department is yet to come up with a revised protocol on wrapping Covid-19 bodies with cotton bags, many hospitals on Friday received messages from KMC, saying the bags were ready and they had to be obtained from the Central Medical Stores in Moulali. “Plastic body bags are causing damage to the anti-pollution device at electric furnaces of the crematoriums and are also not biodegradable in case of burials,” the message said.
According to sources, there have been several talks between health and KMC officials on the feasibility of replacing plastic bags with cotton ones that will ensure no harm is done to the furnace.
Environmentalists, like Subhas Datta, lauded this innovation, but some doctors cautioned that cotton could prove risky for people handling the bodies if the material was not good enough. “Some electric furnaces are emitting black fumes and if the highly toxic plastic material is allowed to burn, it is like adding fuel to the fire, as far as the environment is concerned. We cannot afford to pollute the air further, especially when people are gasping for oxygen. Using eco-friendly material is a welcome move,” said Datta.
Covid-19 bodies are cremated at Dhapa, Nimtala, Birjunala in Garden Reach, Garia and Siriti in Behala. “Plastic bags are more scientific as it is impermeable and will not allow leakage of fluid. But if cotton is used, the fabric should be closely knit, something like that used for masks,” said public health specialist Anirban Dalui.
Source: Times of India