In the past, there were federal laws that dictated guidelines and rules regarding the handling, storage, labeling, transportation and proper disposal of all types of medical wastes. A majority of the states have since established their own set of guidelines with specific agencies overseeing the various elements of medical waste disposal for the protection of people, the community, and the environment. In some cases, the states work in conjunction with federal agencies such as DOT (Department of Transportation) and may also have created their own OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) departments.
The State of Iowa has the Governing Law and Regulations
Requirements for sanitary landfills: Iowa Administrative Code (IAC) 567-103(455B), which includes:
Iowa has established rules regarding the management of infectious medical waste which includes being considered as “special waste,” and falls under the state’s solid waste regulations. Disposal of special waste requires an SWA (special waste authorization) from the DNR (Department of Natural Resources) that outlines the proper disposal requirements.
It should be noted that Iowa does not have regulations consistent with federal guidelines for existing waste incinerators in hospital/medical/ incinerators (HMIWIs) due to the fact that the state has received the approval of a negative declaration of confirmation that no applicable sources of this type exist within the state.
Recognized types of medical waste in Iowa include:
A vast percentage of medical waste is generated within medical and health environments, however, there are a number of industries that also generate medical waste including but not limited to: hospitals, medical clinics, veterinarians, physician offices, dentists, research laboratories, tattoo parlors, body piercing businesses, coroner’s offices, and funeral homes. Each of these organizations come in contact with tissues, cultures, specimens, blood, and body parts that could pose a potential danger to individuals, the community, and the environment. There are specific rules and guidelines set for the storage, labeling, transport, and proper disposal of all medical waste.
Any organization that has medical waste is responsible for the medical waste in what is called “cradle-to-grave.” This means that the organization must comply with all regulations from the moment that the medical waste is generated to the point of proper disposal, including having all confirmation documentation and manifests. To fail in compliance can result in fines and potential refusal of licensing.
All generators of medical waste must apply for an SWA (Special Waste Authorization) permit. The SWA permit has specific data that must include things such as waste chemical analysis, volume or weight of waste, an MSDS (material safety data sheet) for the waste, and toxicity characteristic leaching procedure (TCLP) test results, where appropriate.
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has established medical waste regulations for the storing and disposal of medical waste.
Those that generate small quantities of medical waste are known as SQG, with larger quantity generators referred to as LQG. Specific storage requirements for LQG, allowing some of the SQG to be exempt. Iowa recognizes two distinct types of medical waste storage areas:
Satellite accumulation which is an area that is near the location of the waste generation and is under the control of the operator for the process of waste generation, where the waste will be allowed to be temporarily stored for three days prior to being moved to the main hazardous waste storage area. The satellite accumulation area cannot be three floors down from a laboratory that is generating the waste. The rules for a satellite accumulation area include:
The main hazardous waste storage area can be located anywhere at a facility where the facility has medical waste storage prior to being sent for treatment, disposal, or recycling off-site. There can be more than one main storage area. The rules for a main hazardous waste storage area include:
A majority of medical waste is shipped off-site and through the use of licensed, trained, and professional medical waste disposal companies. Small quantity generators are required to ensure that the delivery of the waste is to an RCRA treatment storage and disposal facility, a recycler, or a state authorized solid waste facility. Medical waste must comply with all state requirements regarding rendering the waste harmless.
Whenever medical waste is transported from the point of generation to the transporter, a copy of the information must be included in the manifest. The transporter is responsible for supplying a completed manifest to the generator.
The HazCom (Hazard Communications Program) of OSHA details the requirements of labeling and source separation for all hazardous waste, including medical waste. There is an additional set of rules that apply to prepare for the transportation of medical waste under DOT (Department of Transportation). All containers and labeling laws are designed to prevent accidents.
All medical waste is required to be in containers that are labeled, tagged or marked with the identity of the contents and the universal biohazard waste logo on the outside. Labels must be legible and prominently displayed. Items such as “sharps” are required to be inside a bag tied at the top with a wire or twist tie that is puncture resistant and then placed into the appropriate container.
All medical waste containers should be separated so that the professional medical waste disposal companies can easily identify the waste type.
Parent page – Medical Waste Disposal
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