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How Long Can Medical Waste Be Stored?

December 17, 2020

How Long Can Medical Waste Be Stored?

Each state has individual laws for the duration of time for storage of medical waste. The laws are specific to both the type and volume of medical waste for the time allowed to be stored. In some states there are no listed maximum time limit, whereas other states have time limits that are very specific.  Generators of medical waste are held accountable for compliance of all local, state, and federal laws in what is referred to as “cradle-to-grave.” Abiding by the guidelines for storage is included in these guidelines. Licensed and trained medical waste disposal companies are knowledgeable in the rules for the states that they service and work with the various types of generators to ensure that they comply with storage rules as well as any/all permits that may be required.

Medical Waste Generator Categories

The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has established three different types of generators based on the volume of medical waste that they create. Each category has specific rules on the duration of time for storage.

VSQGs (Very Small Quantity Generators): Locations that generate 100 kg (220 lbs) or less each month of hazardous waste or 1 kg (2.2 lbs) or less per month of what is referred to as “acutely hazardous” waste. They are not allowed to keep the medical waste onsite for longer than 90 days from the date of accumulation. The VSQGs are allowed to deliver the waste to a facility that is authorized for management/disposal. VSQGs may have state requirements may differ depending upon their rules.

SQGs (Small Quantity Generators): Locations that generate over 100 kg (220 lbs) of hazardous waste per month but less than 1000 kg (2,204.62 lbs). SQGs can have waste accumulation on-site for 180 days without a permit (or 270 days if shipping or transporting over 200 miles). SQGs may not have more then 6,000 kg of waste on-site. Unlike VSQGs, SQGs are required to comply with all requirements for hazardous waste management manifests for pre-transport. SQGs are also required to manage the hazardous containers or waste, preparedness and prevention requirements, and any/all requirements for land disposal restrictions. SQGs may have state requirements that differ depending upon their rules.

LQGs (Large Quantity Generators): Those locations that generate 1,000 kg (2,204.62 lbs) per month or more per month of hazardous waste or more than 1 kg (2.2 lbs) of acutely hazardous waste per month. LQGs may only have the waste on-site for 90 days from the date of accumulation and don’t have a limit on the volume/amount of waste that is on-site. LQGs must comply with all laws regarding the appropriate containment buildings, containers, tanks as well as all permits and manifests for hazardous waste for their state. In addition, LQGs are required to submit a hazardous waste report every other year.

Medical waste management companies are trained to know the local and state laws for medical waste storage for the states that they operate in. These licensed and certified professionals work with clients to review their needs and make accommodations for volume changes and pickup schedules to ensure compliance.

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