This is an archival version of the original KnowledgePoint website.

Interactive features have been disabled and some pages and links have been removed.

Visit the new KnowledgePoint website at


Disposal of hospital beds

Harriette Purchas
related country: Sierra Leone
related country: Sierra Leone

I have had the following query from a colleague in Sierra Leone:

Dear colleagues, we are decontaminating an ETC and we need to dispose of 100 metal bed frames from the red zone. Any suggestions? There is not enough land available to bury them and they won't burn. They are too rusty (from chlorination) to reuse.

Any ideas or suggestions?


Is there any picture available to assess the degree of rusting of the bed frames? Would it be possible to know the rough location of the ETC? All these information would provide a better and more qualified answer

Olmo Giovanni gravatar imageOlmo Giovanni ( 2015-04-14 07:10:51 )

2 Answers


Dear Harriette,

Knowing the level of rusting of the frames would be helpful to assess the potential for refurbishment, as it may still be possible to de-rust them and recoat them. Frames beyond repair could be cannibalized to provide substitute parts for those in better shape, thus reducing the amount to be disposed of.

In any case, as these are metal frames, the potential for recycling is high, provided that the structures are properly decontaminated through chlorination and exposure to sunlight. In urban settings it is likely that there is a junkshop or a scrapyard buying metal scrap; in more remote or rural settings that may not be the case, so one would need to identify a buyer and possibly provide for the transport.

The biggest challenge will most likely be the stygma associated with the origin of the bed frames, that will prevent scrap dealers to buy the bed frames. so one would have to provide some form of reassurance that the metal is not infectious, either in the form of a certificate/written statement or by providing an additional disinfection in front of the buyer.

At the moment it is difficult to assess whether the building of a smelter in the country proceeded as planned, but it is safe to say that at the moment there are no steel ills or foundries active in Sierra Leone. It is worth noting, however, that there are several iron ore processing facilities active, but I doubt they accept iron scrap.


This may sound off the wall, but it is not.

If you are reasonably close to the ocean, and the rusty beds are thoroughly decontaminated, throw them in the ocean in a place where an artificial reed could be of value to local fisheries or fishermen (or even tourists...)

Not in the river, please!