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Medical Waste Solutions

March 9, 2022

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Medical Waste Solutions

Medical Waste Solutions. Medical waste is a subset of wastes generated at health care facilities, such as hospitals, physicians’ offices, dental practices, blood banks, and veterinary hospitals/clinics, as well as medical research facilities and laboratories. Generally, medical waste is healthcare waste that that may be contaminated by blood, body fluids or other potentially infectious materials and is often referred to as regulated medical waste.   It can contain blood, body fluids, and other infectious agents that can carry dangerous pathogens. Improper disposal of this type of waste can result in contamination of the environment, and possible injury to those handling the waste.

As with most things in the medical field, there are guidelines for how medical waste should be collected, stored, transported, and treated. It’s important to know what these regulations are for your location, so you don’t unintentionally break them.

Medical Waste Regulations

Medical waste regulations vary by state as each state creates the regulations for medical waste in that state. In some circumstances even the definition is different from state to state. Regulations also vary for the length of time medical waste can be stored on-site, and this time usually starts from the moment the medical waste container is put into use, not when the medical waste container is full. Below are some general guidelines for the proper handling, collection, storage, and transportation of medical waste.

Use standard precautions when handling medical waste. This includes personal protective equipment, such as gloves, gowns, masks, eye protection (e.g., goggles), and face shields, to protect workers from exposure to infectious diseases.

Segregation at Generation Points. The next step in the disposal process is knowing what you’re dealing with, so you can properly identify and segregate the waste to ensure it gets the correct treatment method. Place the properly identified medical waste in the appropriate container immediately after use.

Storage of all containers are required to be in containers that are:

Is not accessible by the general public, Is maintained at a standard temperature, Clear from bugs, parasites, or rodents, Cannot be in an area with patient or human traffic, Should not be in a second story area that could have a fall allowing contents to leak, Should be easily accessible by individuals authorized for transport, Must be marked properly according to OSHA standards with universal biohazard symbol or radioactive symbol.

Common Disposal Methods

Specific destruction methods are required for each type of medical waste. Below are some common methods used to treat medical waste.

Incineration: The incinerators used for medical waste operate at temperatures around 1800 degrees Fahrenheit, which reduces the medical waste to harmless ash that can be safely placed in a landfill. The incineration process is for specific types of waste that are required by law to be incinerated. Most medical waste today is treated using an alternative method.

Autoclaving: A method that uses chemicals and/or heat at 300 degrees Fahrenheit to sterilize the medical waste. Some medical waste cannot be autoclaved using chemicals as the addition of the chemicals changes some metallic substances so that they are toxic and/or combustible. In those cases, incineration is the only option for destruction.

Microwave Treatment, Microwave disinfection works only when there is water in the waste. because the radiation directly works on the water, not the solid components of the waste.

Irradiation: A method using gamma rays to disinfect by killing bacteria. It employs radioactive isotope of cobalt and is similar to the same radiation used for cancer treatments.

Pharmaceuticals/Medication: For unused, old, or expired medications, some states have medication take back programs. These programs are at specific locations and are guarded by law enforcement. Liquid medications cannot be accepted for the take back programs. It is unlawful to place any medications in private or public water systems for disposal. Many of the medications do not degrade naturally and contain elements that are hazardous for the environment and can be toxic for individuals and animals.


There are a variety of ways to dispose of medical waste. However, in all cases, it is important to follow the rules and regulations outlined in your city or state’s guidelines.

If you have any questions about the rules and regulations for disposing of medical waste in your area, contact Healthcare Waste Management Today!


OSHA – Worker protections against occupational exposure to infectious diseases Accessed March 8, 2022.

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