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? What is considered biohazardous waste? 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.
TOPICS WE WILL COVER:
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, the definition of a biohazardous waste product can be anything contaminated with potentially infectious materials.
1 / Infectious waste, such as:
- Blood and blood products
- Contaminated personal protective equipment (PPE)
- IV tubing, Blood Transfusion Bags and Suction Canisters
- Cultures, stocks, or any laboratory agent that may be contaminated with an infectious disease (often defined as microbiological waste)
2 / Any type of waste produced in the room of a patient diagnosed with a communicable disease
4 / Animal waste or waste resulting from veterinary procedures
5 / Pathological waste including waste materials from a biopsy proedure
6 / Sharps waste including needles, scalpels and broken glass vials
7 / Recombinant DNA and RNA (per National Institutes of Health guidelines and developed for safe operating procedures at universities and labs around the country).
8 / Laboratory Items (otherwise known as microbiological waste) including cultures, items contaminated with an infectious disease, used petri dishes
9 / Liquid medical waste – such as clinical specimen liquids or bodily fluids or bloods that may contain an infectious agent
10 / Gloves, Surgical masks, Swabs or Gauze that is soaked, saturated or dried and able to flake with blood, bodily fluids or other infectious material
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!
How do I identify a Biohazardous Waste?
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. When you think about biohazardous waste, it's important to think not of an "item" or "object" to classify, but rather the exposure an item has had to contamination. The first things that come to mind when classifying biohazard waste is:
- Soiled Gowns
- Soiled Bedsheets, or linen from an isolation environment
- Sharps including syringes, pipettes or scalpel blades
Beyond this list however, biohazard waste can include any form of equipment that has come into contact with a potentially infected individual. Think about surgical and procedural tools and devices used to treat an infected individual or items that might have come into contact or been contaminated such as 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: biohazardous waste can be defined as anything that maybe contaminated with potentially infectious materials.
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 occupational safety and health of employees, coworkers, patients, and the general public.
How to Handle Biohazard Waste Disposal
Proper handling and disposal of biohazard waste in the United States 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 prior to transport and disposal.
Sharps include any object that has the potential to puncture or cut the skin and has possibly been contaminated with biological materials; the safety and health regulations (OSHA) state that contaminated sharps must always be discarded in a sharps container immediately following use, and that such containers must be - a) closable, b) puncture resistant; c) leakproof on sides and bottom; and d) labeled or color-coded in accordance with the standard [29 CFR 1910.1030(d)(4)(iii)(A)]
Liquid biohazardous waste such as culture media, specimens, and so forth are typically collected into vacuum flasks which, 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. CDC regulations state that such waste should be contained in a sturdy, leak-proof container lined with a biohazard bag and appropriately marked with biohazard labeling.
Daniels Health provides a range of containers for the segregation of biohazard waste and safety in biomedical waste management, as well as expert guidance in the proper placement and usage of biohazard waste containers mandated by federal and state guidelines.
Biohazard Waste Guidelines - Who is Responsible?
The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) grants the EPA the authority to control hazardous waste from cradle to grave.
How does cradle to grave law apply to a medical waste generator? It means that the responsibility of proper transport, treatment and disposal of biohazardous waste falls on the generator of the waste. Whether a doctors office, long term care facility or a hospital, federal and state regulations mandate 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.
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? If you are looking for the best way to dispose of biohazard waste, our team at Daniels can help you navigate your treatment and disposal requirements in line with state and federal regulations, while upholding the occupational safety and health of your staff and saving you money in the process.