Written by Megan Chamberlain
12 Jun 2020

10 Examples of Biohazardous Waste

As a healthcare facility, when was the last time your employees were asked to identify different types of medical waste streams? Or about the regulations associated with biohazard waste management? In fact, can you identify at least 10 examples of biohazard waste? If you can’t, it’s time for a refresher.


What exactly is biohazard waste?

Biohazard waste is defined as a biological material that has the potential to taint an object or individual that comes into contact with it. In even simpler terms, a biohazardous waste product can be anything contaminated with potentially infectious materials.

Common types and examples of biohazard waste can be divided into:

  • Infectious waste, such as:
    • Blood and blood products
    • Contaminated personal protective equipment (PPE)
    • IV tubing
    • Cultures, stocks, or any laboratory agent that may be contaminated with an infectious disease (often defined as microbiological waste)
  • Any type of waste produced in the room of a patient diagnosed with a communicable disease
  • Discarded vaccines
  • Animal waste
  • Pathological waste
  • Sharps waste
  • Recombinant DNA and RNA (per National Institutes of Health guidelines and developed for safe operating procedures at universities and labs around the country).

Each of the above, if even suspected of harboring viral, parasitic, or bacterial infection, should be appropriately segregated and handled with the utmost care. Microorganisms within these waste streams have the potential to affect health and wellness. They thrive in hospital environments, as well as outpatient clinics, physicians’ offices, and yes, even your local dental office!

It is crucial that anyone employed in a healthcare environment must be able to identify biohazard waste and take appropriate steps to isolate, contain, and dispose of it. It’s the foundation of compliant and safe medical waste management. This includes everyone from management down to maintenance, housekeeping, and medical waste disposal personnel.

Biohazard waste is not limited to soiled gowns, bedsheets, or bandages, but can include any form of equipment that has come into contact with a potentially infected individual. Think about sharps (syringes, pipettes, or scalpel blades) but also surgical and procedural tools and devices used to treat an infected individual.

Biohazard waste is not to be underestimated when it comes to things that even might have come into contact with it, including gloves, gowns, gauze, or any tools or implements used in the treatment of a person who may be infected with dangerous pathogens.


Biohazardous waste can be deadly

Biohazard, biohazardous, and infectious waste are often defined as the same thing. It’s easy to get confused when it comes to terminology, but remember: anything that maybe contaminated with potentially infectious materials should be considered biohazardous waste.

The Centers for Disease Control identifies four levels of biohazard waste:

  • Biohazard Level I: any agent that has the potential to pose even minimal threats to humans or the environment. A prime example is E. coli.
  • Biohazard Level II: an agent that may cause severe illness in a human such as one that is transmitted through direct contact with infected materials. Primary examples of this level include hepatitis B, HIV, or Salmonella.
  • Biohazard Level III: any pathogen that has the potential to become airborne and cause severe illness or disease. An example of this level of biohazard includes tuberculosis.
  • Biohazard Level IV: a pathogen that has an extremely high risk of producing life-threatening disease for which there is no treatment. One of the most well-known today includes the Ebola virus.

Know how to handle different types of biohazardous waste including solid, liquid, and microbiological infectious waste for the safety of employees, coworkers, patients, and the general public.


Handling biohazard waste

Proper handling and disposal of biohazard waste is equally important, from its point of origin to its final disposal. Any waste material that has become saturated with blood or bodily fluids must be segregated and discarded in an appropriate and labeled biohazard waste container. Biohazard “red bags” must also be securely tied.

Sharps include any object that has the potential to puncture or cut the skin and has possibly been contaminated with biological materials should always be disposed of in a sharps container immediately following use. These containers must be leak-proof, puncture-proof, and spill-proof.

Liquid biohazardous waste such as culture media, specimens, and so forth are typically collected into the vacuum flasks that, like sharps containers, are leak-proof and non-breakable. Such flasks are also fitted with HEPA filters, also known as overflow flasks, and discharged and cleaned when they are half-full or on a weekly basis.

Solid biohazard waste can originate throughout a healthcare environment - from the laboratory to a patient’s room or surgical suite. Solid biohazardous waste is anything that has been potentially contaminated with infectious biological materials. Such waste should be contained in a sturdy, leak-proof container line with biohazard bags and appropriately marked with biohazard labeling.

Daniels Health provides a range of containers for segregation of biohazard waste and expertise in biomedical waste management. That means proper placement and usage of biohazard waste containers mandated by federal and state guidelines. We stress that responsibility of proper handling and disposal of biohazardous waste is on the generator.

We take the cradle-to-grave approach, meaning that the medical waste generator is responsible for the proper handling, storage, labeling, transportation, and disposal of biohazard waste from the point of origin to final disposal as mandated by federal and state regulations.


Know the rules regarding biohazard waste

Daniels Health is dedicated to protecting healthcare employees and the environment from potentially hazardous materials including biohazard waste produced by any size healthcare facility. We know the rules regarding medical waste management. Do you? Contact Daniels Health to find out more. We can help you maintain not only compliance when it comes to federal guidelines, but save money in the process.


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Megan Chamberlain

Megan Chamberlain

Content Strategist

With a little bit of knowledge about a lot of things and a quick wit, Megan was the recipient of the Daniels Pun-Master Award 2017 and is the go-to for fun analogies to explain healthcare waste.