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What is Biohazard Medical Waste?



July 1, 2021



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What is Biohazard Medical Waste?

When waste is considered a biohazard, then it is defined as any substance or item that can cause immediate harm to humans, animals, and or the environment i.e., it is a waste product, like body fluids and tissues, which have the risk of carrying human pathogens. Biohazardous medical waste often originates from health care facilities and/or research laboratories in the treatment or diagnosis of humans or animals. However, there are other procedures that can create biohazard waste and not all are related to the treatment or diagnosis procedures. There are many kinds of dangerous waste, including toxic wastes, hazardous, RX, medical waste and OPIM, toxic compounds, and radioactive materials. When it comes to the handling of biohazard waste, there are standards that are in place for different waste types. Identifying your waste is the first step in any successful waste management program.

There are regulations for the safe storage and handling of medical waste. These were put in place in 1988, when the Medical Waste Act was established. This specifies how medical waste should be disposed of, how it should be stored, who is responsible for handling it, and what kind of labeling and safety devices should be used. For example, if you are looking to dispose of sharps, then you should use an FDA-Cleared Sharps Container.

There are guidelines for the transportation, storage, and disposal of medical waste. The health and safety management plan for biohazardous waste or an Exposure Control Plan defines the responsibilities of the medical facilities employees and healthcare organization. The organization is responsible for identifying risks, designing an action plan, monitoring the plan, implementing it, and providing personal protective equipment. This plan is based on the individual facilities processes for identifying, labeling, storing, and disposing of biohazard medical waste. This plan may include general information such as how to get new personal protective equipment, what kinds of equipment are needed and what employee/s are responsible for the implementation.

Hazardous waste and biohazard waste are similar in that they can both cause harm in humans and the environment however, they are quite different waste. Hazardous Waste can include things like batteries, chemicals, fluorescent light bulbs, and more. Biohazard waste can include things like Blood and Blood byproducts, contaminated personal protection equipment, IV tubing, Cultures and stocks, sharps waste and more.

What happens to biohazard waste?

Biohazard waste can be stored onsite while it is waiting to be picked up by a medical waste disposal company as per EPA, and OSHA state and federal regulations. Most states have regulations of how long the waste can be onsite. The longer it sits there, the higher the likelihood of contamination and injury. Contact Healthcare Waste Management today for any questions concerning state storage requirements.

Biohazard waste is not the same as pharmaceutical waste. The EPA has issued regulations about the disposal of pharmaceuticals through RCRA the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. Certain types of waste like pharmaceuticals should be disposed of in a safe and effective way as to not cause harm to humans or the environment and should not be mixed with your regular biohazard waste. The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) gives EPA the authority to control hazardous waste from cradle to grave. This includes the generation, transportation, treatment, storage, and disposal of hazardous waste. RCRA also set forth a framework for the management of non-hazardous solid wastes. In fact, it is important to understand that the medical waste industry has developed its own regulatory system that has strict procedures for handling medical waste. These regulations come from various state and federal level government agencies like OSHA, DOT, EPA, and FDA just to name a few.


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