Perhaps the only thing more dangerous than biohazard waste itself is the manner in which it is disposed of. We’ve all heard of biohazardous waste. We’ve seen its symbol in hospitals, on the side of emergency vehicles, and even in our favorite weekly crime dramas. But what exactly is biohazardous waste, why is it so dangerous and what is the proper disposal of it?
Biohazardous waste is waste that is potentially contaminated with infected agents that can harm humans and other living organisms. Biohazardous waste can include human blood, bodily fluids, microbiological waste (such as specimen cultures), pathological waste (such as human tissue), animal waste, and sharps waste.
Proper Biohazard Waste Disposal
Like any waste, it is important to dispose of biohazard waste the proper way. But before you stop reading and decide that biohazard waste disposal is as simple as separating your recycling from your garbage, it’s essential to note that biohazardous waste requires extreme caution and attention to detail.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “In any given State, EPA or the State Hazardous Waste Regulatory Agency enforces hazardous waste laws. EPA encourages States to assume primary responsibility for implementing a hazardous waste program through State adoption, authorization, and implementation of the regulations.” There are 4 categories of biohazard waste and a disposal method for each:
- Solid biohazards (non-sharps waste): Examples include gloves, towels, and culture containers that are contaminated with human blood, semen, and other specimens.
Proper disposal: Solid waste materials should be disposed of in a leak-proof container, lined with a biohazard bag, and clearly labeled with the biohazard symbol.
Examples include blood products, body fluids, and bulk quantities of blood.
Liquid wastes should be disposed of using chemical treatment or autoclave treatment.
Examples include needles, syringes, slides contaminated with human or animal specimen materials, and broken tubes of blood.
Never dispose of biohazardous sharps containers in the trash. Sharps containers should be wiped down with a disinfectant, permanently closed, and picked up by a medical waste disposal contractor.
Pathological waste: Examples include human organs, tissues, and body parts (excluding teeth), animal tissues, and carcasses that have been exposed to human-derived materials.
Pathological wastes should be double-bagged in biohazard bags clearly labeled with a biohazard symbol. These items must be incinerated for disposal unless other provisions apply.
Hazardous waste disposal should not be taken lightly. Hiring a remediation company to help dispose of biohazards can ensure your safety, the safety of those around you, and your compliance with all state and federal regulations. Our supervisors and field technicians are trained in respiratory protection, bloodborne pathogen controls, hazardous communications, and personal protective equipment. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.