Medical Waste Disposal for Funeral Homes

Medical Waste Disposal for Funeral Homes

Funeral homes receive bodies from a number of sources that include both known and unknown medical conditions and diseases states. They also receive human bodies in a variety of physical states from hospitals, hospice, in-home deaths, and the coroner’s office. The job of the funeral home can run from preparing a body for a service to ensuring cremation. All expose the staff and the funeral home location to medical waste that can be potentially Funeral Home Medical wastedangerous and therefore there are local, state, and federal compliance laws set in place to protect individuals, the community, and the environment.

Types of Funeral Home Medical Waste

Medical waste that is generated at a funeral home is most often considered to be biohazardous. This is due to the variety of health conditions of the bodies that they must deal with.

  • Blood: If a body is to be embalmed, it requires that the blood be drained from the veins and it is then replaced with embalming fluid through the arteries. The embalming process helps to keep the body from deteriorating and consists of a number of toxic chemicals. The blood that is drained from the body is allowed to be disposed of through standard drain systems which is then cleaned when it enters water waste management.


  • Medications/Pharmaceuticals are not only the medicines that the deceased may have taken when they were ill but also may include trace elements of chemotherapy agents during cancer or other treatments.


  • Sharps are considered to be any object that can pierce the skin that may contain elements that can contaminate or infect people, the community, and/or the environment. Funeral homes are often required to use a variety of sharps including but not limited to scissors, scalpels, knives, trocars, and incision needles.


  • Swabs and Dressings are any items that have been contaminated to bodily fluids that may be contaminated and are required to be disposed of properly to avoid infecting staff, any other individuals, the community, and the environment.


  • Masks, Gloves, and Gowns are required to be worn by employees to protect them from the spread of diseases and infections as they work on the bodies. These items can contain biohazardous medical waste as well as chemicals that are hazardous.


  • Tissue builders, cosmetics, adhesives, and cosmetics are other products that are used in the preparation of a body. These may contain solvents or chlorinated compounds that are toxic such as trichloroethylene and perchloroethylene and are used topically. The gauze and swabs used for application are considered to be hazardous waste as well the chemicals themselves.


Almost all funeral homes contract with a medical waste disposal company for the removal of all toxic and hazardous medical waste. All employees at a funeral home are required to have extensive training on the correct disposal, labeling, and storage of medical waste. Funeral directors are required to be aware of and comply with all local, state, and federal guidelines regarding medical waste and OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Administration) guidelines for the safety and protection of their staff and any people that enter the facility.


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