Regulated Biohazard Waste Regulations

Medical Waste Disposal | Biohazard Waste Disposal | Sharps Waste Disposal

Biohazard Waste Rules | Regulations | Management By State


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Biohazard Regulated Waste Description

Biohazard regulated medical waste or (RMW) also known as biohazardous, biomedical, infectious, sharps waste or even sometimes clinical medical waste, is the portion of a health-care facility’s hazardous waste stream that may be contaminated by blood, body fluids or other potentially infectious materials thus posing a significant risk of transmitting infection to humans or harming the environment. Federal law(s) do not provide an explicit definition of medical waste and it is normally not regulated at the federal level. Typically, State Departments of Health issue the regulations that determine which wastes are considered Regulated or require special handling.

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Medical Waste Tracking Act Of 1988

Medical waste management and tracking biohazard waste began with the Medical Waste Tracking Act of 1988arrow In response to the needle syringe mess in New Jersey & New York in the late 1980’s. Truth be told – no one knows exactly in the 80’s when all this began or even for how long it was happening, but in the late 1980’s the syringe issue was coming to a head and something needed to be done. In 1987 and 1988 a large amount of sharps/needles and biohazard medical waste washed up onto the New Jersey beaches in Monmouth and Ocean Counties, covering an area of 50 miles. The medical waste included mostly sharps/syringes and therefore the event became known as the Syringe Tide. Nicknamed the “Syringe Tidearrow“. It was designed primarily to monitor the treatment of biohazard waste and sharps waste through their generation, transportation and final disposal, i.e. “Cradle-to-Grave” biohazard and medical waste management and disposal.

Although the Federal Government, EPA & DOT provide some oversight of regulated medical waste storage, transportation and disposal the majority of biohazard medical waste is regulated at the state level. In some instances it can be regulated under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)arrow under RCRA Subtitle C, but only if it is determined to be a hazardous medical wasteRegulated waste laws regarding treatment, transportation and final disposal of regulated biohazard medical waste are determined mostly at the State level and will vary from State to State. Each State has different regulated medical waste regulations and requirements for tracking and record keeping. So it is very important to check with your individual State regulators to determine what is required of your health-care facility.

Implementation of internal office procedures for handling regulated medical waste and proper record keeping are a must for your health-care practice. Keeping records of proper regulated waste disposal is very important for compliance with your local compliance regulators. Tracking manifest records of disposal and disposal company used, including final destination of your waste must be available for you to access online or be on site. Record keeping requirements can vary depending on which State you are operating in, check with your local medical waste disposal company or State regulators.

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Pharmaceutical Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)

More than 30 years ago, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) was enacted to protect human health and the environment from the potential hazards of waste disposal – and to ensure that these wastes would be managed in an environmentally responsible way. Today, there are increasing concerns about the disposal of all drugs.

Pharmaceutical regulations are being revised in a number of states to tighten drug disposal options. Pharmaceuticals in the waste stream Hazardous & Non-Hazardous pharmaceuticals link-arrow can pose many different types of risk. One of the most is that the active ingredients in a discarded drug could act on an unintended target. But other ingredients in pharmaceutical formulations can present hazards: Pharmaceutical Waste Characterization – Is the first step for proper managing, using a permitted company can help provide a comprehensive review of hospital pharmacy products and compounded formulas. Formulary characterization accurately determines EPA, RCRA, and DOT requirements for each National Drug Code (NDC) product. Pharmaceutical waste characterization is particularly critical for chemotherapy agents, U-listed and P-listed hazardous waste. End users more than ever before people need to understand the problems involved with managing pharmaceutical waste in compliance with OSHA, DEA, RCRA and state regulations.

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How We Manage Regulated Biohazard & Medical Waste

Medical healthcare centers, hospitals veterinary clinics and plenty more in the United States generate over one million tons of waste each year. Although the majority of this waste is as harmless as common household waste, as much as 15 percent of this waste poses a potential infection hazard, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Medical waste, also referred to as clinical waste, Medical Waste What Is Ithas to be handled and disposed of in a proper manner to reduce the possibility of injury or infection. Federal and state laws govern the disposal of medical waste, mandating specific methods to either package or sterilize the waste so that the waste does not affect people, animals, or the environment in negative ways.

Like hazardous waste, medical waste can pose danger if exposed to the general public or environment in an untreated form, handling medical or biohazard waste read more link-arrow ? Different types of medical waste pose different risks. Engineers, scientists, and industrial hygienists have some up with a variety of methods to process medical waste. The design process takes into account the expected nature of the waste; one or more treatments can be applied before ultimate disposal.

Waste generators are grouped into two categories: Small Quantity Generators (SQG) and Large Quantity Generators (LQG), based on the amount of medical waste produced monthly. LQGs produce at least 200 pounds per month; they generally are nursing homes, clinics, health departments, or laboratories. Physicians, dentists and veterinarians in private practice are more often SQGs.

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Biomedical Waste Treatment & Disposal

There are different methods companies use to treat medical waste before it can be disposed of. Medical waste is required to be rendered non-infectious before it can be disposed of. This is very important for the health and safety of everyone who many come into contact with the waste.

There are several different methods to treat and dispose of biohazardous waste read morelink-arrow 

United States primary methods for treatment and disposal of biohazard, medical and sharps waste may include :

  • Incineration
  • Autoclaves
  • Mechanical/Chemical Disinfection
  • Microwave
  • Irradiation

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Biohazard & Sharps Waste Definitions

The Medical Waste tracking Act of 1988 defines medical waste as “any solid waste that is generated in the diagnosis, treatment, or immunization of human beings or animals, in research pertaining thereto, or in the production or testing of biologicals.” This definition includes, but is not limited to :

  • blood-soaked bandages
  • culture dishes and other glassware
  • discarded surgical gloves
  • discarded surgical instruments
  • discarded needles used to give shots or draw blood (e.g., medical sharps)
  • cultures, stocks, swabs used to inoculate cultures
  • removed body organs (e.g., tonsils, appendices, limbs)
  • discarded lancets

Different types of biohazard medical waste may require different forms of treatment. For example, pathological waste human tissue may have different disposal requirements than blood soaked bandages in your state. Non-hazardous pharmaceutical waste is quickly becoming regulated due to environmental concerns and states have started requiring different disposal methods. See this guide explaining the different forms of medical wastelink-arrow.

While these definitions served as the foundation for many of the state definitions and regulations, each state may vary in what is considered medical waste. Make sure to check your state’s regulations to ensure proper disposal regulations are being followed.

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Sharps Needle Waste From Home Use

Sharps needle wastelink-arrow from individuals providing medical care in their own residence is different than medical practices or public collection containers and is not subject to the same requirements in most states. This does not mean, however, that individuals do not have to properly dispose of needle waste.

Coffee cans, plastic bottles (such as milk containers, laundry detergent bottles, pop bottles) and other non sharps containers are not certified to be puncture proof and should never be used to dispose of needle waste. Recommendations to dispose of needle waste in this manner should be considered outdated as it does not provide any protection to workers who many come into contact with them in their jobs.

Some states will allow home generators to dispose of needles, in a certified puncture proof sharps container, along with the regular municipal trash pickup. Other states require home generators to have needles properly disposed of by a medical waste company. Mail back kits are the most common way to to achieve this way of proper disposal is is recommend for all home generators.

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