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Biohazard Waste Disposal a Comprehensive Guide

Biohazard Waste Disposal a Comprehensive Guide by Bio-MED Regulated Waste Solutions. Biohazardous waste is any material that has the potential to pose a risk to humans, animals or the environment if not handled correctly. Biohazardous waste can be produced in small quantities as well as large volumes, depending on the size and type of business operating. It’s important for businesses that produce biohazardous waste to have a strategy in place for handling and disposing of this material in a safe manner. Failure to handle biohazardous waste correctly can lead to negative consequences such as fines, loss of customers and even shut down of operations. The following are some biohazardous waste disposal guidelines that will help your business protect employees, customers, other individuals, and the public while minimizing your operational risks and costs.

What is Biohazard Waste?
what is biohazard waste

Biohazard waste is any type of waste that poses a potential risk to humans, animals or the environment if not handled correctly. Any type of waste that contains blood or other bodily fluids falls into this category. Biohazardous waste, also called infectious waste (such as blood, body fluids, and human cell lines), is waste contaminated with potentially infectious agents or other materials that are deemed a threat to public health or the environment.

Examples of Biohazard Waste
Examples of Biohazard Waste

Biohazard Waste can come in many forms some common examples of biohazard waste include. Infectious waste from blood, sharps waste, cultures, stocks, items contaminated with an infectious disease, contaminated personal protective equipment, IV tubing, items that are soaked, saturated or dried and able to flake with blood, bodily fluids or other infectious material, animal waste, pathological waste, empty vials that were used for treatment.

Biohazard Waste Facts
Biohazard Waste Facts

Proper handling and disposal of biohazardous waste is necessary to prevent infection of personnel staff, custodians, patients, visitors, etc. and release to the environment. OSHA regulations require that biohazardous waste be properly labeled, stored, and disposed of.

Universal precautions shall be observed to prevent contact with blood or other potentially infectious materials. When differentiation between body fluid types is difficult or impossible, all body fluids shall be considered potentially infectious materials.

The container for storage, transport, or shipping shall be labeled or color-coded including the word BIOHAZARD and the universal biohazard symbol and closed prior to being stored, transported, or shipped. Labeling or color-coding in accordance with paragraph is required when such specimens/containers leave the facility.

When there is occupational exposure, the employer shall provide, at no cost to the employee, appropriate personal protective equipment such as, but not limited to, gloves, gowns, laboratory coats, face shields or masks and eye protection, and mouthpieces, resuscitation bags, pocket masks, or other ventilation devices. Personal protective equipment will be considered “appropriate” only if it does not permit blood or other potentially infectious materials to pass through to or reach the employee’s work clothes, street clothes, undergarments, skin, eyes, mouth, or other mucous membranes under normal conditions of use and for the duration of time which the protective equipment will be used.

OSHA has a code of federal regulation 29 CFR 1910.1030 concerning bloodborne pathogens and occupational exposure, the above are a few requirements of that standard, to see the full list of requirements go to 29 CFR 1910.1030.

What Agency is Responsible for Regulating Biohazard Waste?

In most states the state Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for regulating the generation and handling of biohazardous waste for businesses, in some states the department of public health has oversight, or a combination of both. This includes waste that is classified as infectious as well as pathological waste. Pathological waste is biological waste that has been removed from a patient during surgery. Most states have specific rules and regulations that must be followed by businesses that generate biohazardous waste. If you are a business owner or manager who generates biohazardous waste, it is your responsibility to understand the specific rules and regulations that apply to your business. Your local government may also have additional rules and regulations that apply to the handling and disposal of biohazardous waste.

In addition to state laws and regulations, there is federal oversight as well, including OSHA the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, and DOT the Department of Transportation. It is important to understand if your business generates medical waste what regulations you must follow on a local, state, and federal level.

Handling and Labeling of Biohazard Waste

It is important to always handle biohazard waste carefully. This includes packaging the waste, handling it within the facility and transporting it to the storage site. Biohazardous waste must be packaged in a manner that prevents the waste from being released into the environment. This means that biohazardous waste must be stored in a container that has a lid and is strong enough to prevent the waste from escaping or being released in the event of a spill. The biohazard waste container must also be labeled with the following information: The type of waste being stored, the words “Biohazard”, the name of the company and a contact person, and the date.

Types of Biohazard Treatment

Biohazard waste can be treated by autoclaving, incineration, microwaving, chemical disinfection, and irradiation. Autoclaving involves placing the waste in a special pressure chamber and subjecting the waste to high heat and pressure. This process kills any pathogens within the waste being treated and renders the waste safe for disposal or reuse. Autoclaving is a cost-effective way to handle biohazard waste disposal. Incineration is another option for treating biohazard waste. This process involves burning the waste in a special furnace at very high temperatures. The waste is allowed to burn until it is destroyed. The resulting ashes are then placed in a special landfill. Microwaving involves a heat source and the biohazard material to be wet allowing deeper penetration of the heat. This method is like autoclaving. Chemical waste includes using chemicals like chlorine compounds including hypochlorite, chlorine dioxide, ozone, alkali, other disinfectants. Chemical waste is most often used when decontaminating liquid waste. Irradiation is a method not used very much as it involves a high cost of operation. It involves exposing the biohazard waste to a cobalt source that gives our gamma radiations.

Biohazardous waste is most often disposed of by incinerating the waste or through autoclaving the waste. Incineration is a very effective means of disposing of biohazardous waste since it can be done at temperatures that destroy the pathogens contained within the waste being burned. Unfortunately, incineration is a process that is heavily regulated and must be done at a special incineration plant. If your business generates biohazardous waste, you will need to identify incineration only waste (some waste must be incinerated) and properly mark this type of waste prior to a medical waste company picking up your waste, proper handling and labeling is required by the generator of the waste.

Biohazard Storage

Bags should be securely closed and transferred to a leak-proof secondary container when being moved to the designated biohazardous waste storage area.

Storage areas and containers must meet these requirements.

Storage Containers – A biohazard waste container should be sturdy, leak-proof, puncture-proof, and have a secure seal. In case of an accident or breach, the containers are designed to minimize exposure when being stored and during transport. Reusable containers are preferable wherever possible, as they reduce environmental impact and cost.

Storage Areas – The storage area should be free of pests, parasites, or rodents and maintained at a constant temperature. Individuals authorized to handle biohazardous waste should have easy access to move it from storage to a transport vehicle. It should be kept away from patients and human traffic, as well as being properly secured and labelled according to OSHA standards.

Transporting Biohazard Waste

Biohazard waste is transported using a vehicle designed for the safe and secure transport of biohazardous waste. These vehicles are often labeled as Biohazardous Waste Vehicles and have markings designed to alert the public that the vehicle is carrying biohazardous materials. It is very important to follow local, state, and federal transportation regulations when transporting biohazard waste. This includes obtaining the appropriate permits, keeping records of the type and amount of waste being transported and fully informing employees and contractors of the nature of the waste being transported.

Color Coding Waste Types

Many businesses choose to color code the biohazard waste they generate. This makes it easier to identify the type of waste being stored and handled. It also makes it easier to track and monitor the waste as it moves through the treatment and disposal process. Typical color coding includes.

Grey – non-hazardous, regular garbage

Red – Blood, tissue, sharps waste

Yellow – Clinical, highly infectious, items like trace chemotherapy that must be incinerated

Orange – Anything that is highly infectious

Blue – Pharmaceuticals and medicines

Black – RCRA hazardous

Purple – Cytotoxic medicines

White – Dental Waste

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