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Medical facilities must pay a great attention to one subcategory of medical waste—biohazardous waste. Biohazardous waste contains biological agents ( these agents may include bacteria, parasites, mold, viruses and other microorganisms that can harm health or lead to mortality in humans ) if it is released in the environment, it may pose risk to the population.

Biohazardous waste can be generated in many places inside your facility:

  • In pathology laboratories that analyze human or animal cultures for presence of pathogens.
  • In research labs that develop vaccines or study infection agents.
  • In operating/autopsy rooms where infected tissues are removed.
  • In patient rooms during patient care.

The Four Main Types of Biohazardous Waste

Solid Biohazardous Waste

You can find in it non-sharp items that came in contact with human or animal specimen materials, such as tissues or body fluids. These items include, but are not limited to petri dishes, pipettes, personal protective equipment, towels and linens and any type of dishes and containers. Note that sharps (scalpels, needles, etc.) are managed separately and so are easily breakable items like blood vials that could become sharp.

Collections and Disposal Procedures:

A designated container with a lid that is lined with an autocalve bag and marked with the biohazard symbol must collect this type of waste. Solid biohazardous waste can be decontaminated on site through autoclaving and disposed as regular medical waste through an approved landfill. It must be collected by your waste management company for proper decontamination and disposal in case it’s not decontaminated,

Liquid Biohazardous Waste

Liquid biohazardous waste consists mainly of blood and body fluids that could be contaminated with infectious agents. It can generally be considered and disposed of as solid biohazardous waste if the amount of liquid is less than 25 mls,

Collection and Disposal Procedures

All liquid biohazardous waste must be collected in leak-proof containers which don’t allow to tip over and which are labeled as biohazard. Secondary vessels, such as a tray or a bucket, can serve as an additional security measure as the primary liquid containers can be placed into them Most liquid waste can be disposed of by either chemical treatment with bleach or autoclaving on the liquid cycle. If the liquids contain a mixture of bodily fluid and chemical waste, make a call your medical waste removal provider for disposal recommendations.

Sharp Biohazardous Waste

Sharp biohazardous waste (simply sharps) is any medical device that is sharp enough to puncture skin (not to mention a plastic bag) and that had been in contact with potentially infectious biological material. Sharps include things like scalpels, needles, microscope slides, saw blades, broken glass vials, etc.

Collection and Disposal Procedures

There esixt some containers which are typically designated for collecting sharps. They are resistant to puncture, leak-proof and safe to handle. Irrespective of the biohazard status, all sharps should be collected in such containers, but biohazardous sharps will be labeled with an appropriate symbol. Local medical waste contractor picks up the contaminated sharps and disposes them. Plastic serological pipettes, while not sharp enough to puncture skin, can go through plastic bags, which is why they must be managed either as sharps or otherwise separated from the rest of the solid biohazardous waste.

Pathological Biohazardous Waste

Removed human (or animal) organs, tissues and body parts that have been exposed to infectious agents are considered to be pathological waste .

Collection and Disposal Procedures: Pathologica l waste should be double-bagged and stored similar to liquid waste in secondary containers in order to be able to avoid potential leaks,. It is generally disposed of through incineration or chemical treatment, but not autoclaving.

Do you have any questions about how to handle biohazardous waste in your facility? Do not hesitate to contact Glycon for advice, recommendations or medical waste collection services in Southern California ( Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Long Beach, Anaheim, Riverside, Irvine, Santa Ana, Santa Barbara, San Diego…)