In 1958, Arne Larsson became the first person to receive an implantable pacemaker. This advance in technology has undoubtedly saved millions of lives in the decades since. Pacemakers are medical devices that can save and prolong lives. They do a tremendous amount of good and can improve the quality of many people’s lives. However, most people do not consider the environmental impact pacemakers can have. Like any other piece of equipment, when pacemakers are no longer in use, they must be disposed of. Fortunately, pacemaker recycling services exist that recycle pacemakers and other implantable devices responsibly.
An Environmental Hazard
Pacemakers and other implantable devices contain metals, such as titanium, gold, silver palladium and platinum. These devices also contain lithium batteries. In the past, these batteries and metals have been destroyed or thrown away when the implantable device is no longer necessary or operational. Often, these devices, along with their metals and batteries, are added to landfills. When combined with other substances, these metals can become toxic and pollute the water, ground, and air. These can be absorbed into the body and build up over time.
Many medical facilities have realized there are alternatives to adding pacemakers to landfills. There may be a way to improve the environment while also helping someone who is not able to afford a new pacemaker, often in the developing world. With pacemakers that cannot be rejuvenated and reused, new initiatives exist to remove the recyclable parts before disposing of the device.
Pacemaker recycling services take the metals from pacemakers and give them to precision metal casters who prepare the metal to be used in new medical devices. Often, pacemaker recycling services offer payment for the metals to the family of the deceased, or they can be donated to charity.
An Opportunity to Help
With new pacemaker recycling services, disposing of a pacemaker presents an opportunity to do good. Every year, between 1 and 2 million people die because they do not have access to a pacemaker, or because they cannot afford a pacemaker. Although short-lived batteries power pacemakers, the devices are durable.
To recycle pacemakers, they can be removed and sent to pacemaker recycling services. These services would have the opportunity to recycle the pacemaker in several ways. If the device still has life left in its battery, it could be sterilized and shipped overseas to improve the quality of life for someone.
Often, the device still functions for four more years. If the battery life of a pacemaker has ended, specialists recast the metals in the device for future medical devices. There are many opportunities to make a positive impact when disposing of a pacemaker. Consider these opportunities before discarding pacemakers with other waste.