Biohazardous waste demands a different disposal process than other items you might throw in the trash, like discarded food. Any object suffused with blood, bodily fluids or pathological materials must be processed in accordance to state regulations, lest they damage the environment, harm human beings or spread infectious diseases. While regulations vary state-to-state, they invariably result in enormous fines—and even prison time in some cases. Though severe, these penalties are designed to stymie an ongoing problem. Agencies like the World Health Organization regularly highlight the costs of improper medical waste disposal, like the inundation of contaminated syringes in low-income nations. A person who suffers an injury from an incorrectly disposed syringe, according to the agency, has a 30 percent chance of developing HBV from an infected source patient. Incorrect disposal methods can also contaminate a city’s water supply, pollute the air with toxins and injure landfill workers. Because of the dangers of improper biohazard disposal, you should be aware of the precautionary techniques that professional cleanup technicians follow to responsibly remove infectious waste.
First, it’s helpful to define biohazard waste and the materials that constitute it. Simply put, biohazard waste is trash that has the potential to transmit a disease. Because the phrase carries such a broad definition, it is generally divided into five subcategories that require separate cleanup procedures. They are outlined here:
Any biohazard that can puncture the skin adopts the rather colloquial designation “sharps.” Used syringes, knives, scalpels, broken glass and microscope slides fit under this definition. Among the various categories of biohazard waste, sharps should be approached with the most caution. Someone who hasn’t been formally trained in biohazard cleanup can easily cut themselves if they aren’t careful, which will surely result in a trip to the hospital. According to the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, biohazardous sharps must immediately be disposed of in a properly labeled biohazardous sharps container. As their name implies, these containers have been specially designed to collect sharps in a safe and simplistic manner. You can purchase sharps containers online, but you should only do so if you’re planning to transport the waste to a proper disposal site. These supervised collection sites include hospitals, pharmacies, universities, police stations, health departments, fire stations and doctor’s offices.
2) Solid Waste (Non-Sharp)
Solid, non-sharp objects contaminated with blood, bodily fluids or other potentially infectious materials fall under this category. They include medical gloves, used gauze, linens, towels, plastics, non-glass containers and other personal protective equipment. If the object can splinter or break apart (i.e. glassware), it should be treated as a “sharp.” All solids should be stored in a thick, leakproof container fitted with a lid. Make sure your container is properly labeled and lined with a biohazard disposal bag. You can find biohazard waste containers online, but from here, you must contact a certified medical waste disposal contractor for pickup. They will proceed to sterilize the contents of the container and dispose of the materials in accordance with state law.
3) Liquid Waste
Liquids such as blood, saliva, semen, breast milk, biological culture mediums and other blood products qualify under this category. Like with solid waste, these fluids must be stored in a properly labeled, leakproof container. The University of Tennessee in Knoxville recommends placing the container in a larger receptacle for safety. You can disinfect the product by adding bleach proportionate to 10 percent of the container’s entire volume, but we recommend that you call a certified medical waste disposal contractor if you are untrained in this procedure. Refrain from disposing the product down the sink or dumping it somewhere outside your home. Even if the solution has been diluted, you will risk damaging the environment and subjecting others to harmful pathogens.
4) Pathological Waste
Pathological materials include human and animal tissues, organs and body parts (teeth are an exception). We recommend that you immediately contact a licensed medical waste disposal contractor if you come across one of these items. Proper storage procedures involve placing the waste into two properly labeled leakproof biohazard bags. When transported, these bags should be contained in a secondary storage unit—a tray or plastic container—for additional security. Disposal teams will usually incinerate the items.
5) Microbiological Waste
Unless you’re a medical professional, you are least likely to encounter microbiological waste. It’s almost always found in laboratories, and includes items used to handle biological cultures—such as dishes, mixing devices and other tools. Laboratory personnel generally handle waste disposal on site. If you encounter any of these items, contact a certified medical waste disposal contractor immediately.
Bio-One’s certified technicians frequently work with clients to remove biohazardous materials safely, courteously and privately. Please contact us if you have any questions. We’re available every hour of the day.