August 5, 2021
Biohazard waste is any waste that is contaminated or could be contaminated with agents and/or pathogens that are infectious and can be considered a danger to people, animals, and the environment. Also referred to as “infectious waste,” there are state and federal laws that dictate the requirement that biohazard waste only be collected and disposed of by a professional, licensed, and trained medical waste disposal company such as Healthcare Waste Management. Unlike standard medical waste, which are items that are not contaminated and typically generated in the medical industry, including clinical and laboratory settings, biohazard waste is extremely deadly and must be handled and disposed of so that it is rendered harmless.
All organizations are required to comply with all state and federal guidelines regarding the handling, storing, transporting, and disposal of biohazard waste. This form of waste has been divided into categories, and each has specific rules that must be followed for disposal:
- Sharps: Any item that is contaminated or could potentially be contaminated with an infectious agent that can pierce the skin. Sharps can include but are not limited to: hypodermic needles, scalpels, syringes, lancets, blades, razors, and broken glass and plastic.
- Dry Biohazard Waste: Any item that is contaminated or could potentially be contaminated with an infectious agent that doesn’t fall into the sharps category. Dry biohazard waste can include but is not limited to: wastes from viruses, bacteria, spores, or attenuated or live vaccines, infectious agents, contaminated culture flasks, cultures, and Petri dishes; waste that has been contaminated with exudates, excretion, or secretions derived from animals or humans; any paper item or wipe or any other items that have been contaminated with materials that are biohazards.
- Liquid Biohazard Waste: Any contaminated or potentially contaminate human or animal body fluid including but not limited to: blood, blood elements, semi-liquid or liquid materials.
- Anatomical Human Specimens: Any body or organ part that may be the result of autopsy, surgery, or accident.
- Animal Body Parts/Carcasses: Any portion of an animal that is exposed to or potentially exposed to biohazardous materials.
Standard Medical Waste
To recognize the difference and dangers of biohazard waste disposal, it’s important to differentiate biohazard from standard medical waste. Biohazard waste requires a high level of knowledge by staff for the handling and storage and must be collected and disposed of by a licensed medical waste company such as Healthcare Waste Management under very specific requirements. While standard medical waste is also collected and disposed of by professional medical waste disposal companies, this waste is not contaminated.
Examples of standard medical waste can include but is not limited to:
- Any non-biohazardous material resulting from medical care
- Non-contaminated culture flasks, Petri dishes, and cultures.
- Non-contaminated syringes (does not contain needles)
- Trace chemotherapy waste, including IV tubing and containers that are empty.
- Empty containers used for specimens that are non-contaminated
- Decontaminated dry biohazard waste such as the results from autoclaving
- Equipment that has been used in a biomedical lab that is not contaminated but could appear as hazardous.