Biohazardous waste is any waste that could include pathogens of bloodborne diseases. This waste can present both environmental as well as a risk to others.
It’s important to know what biohazardous waste looks like and how you can properly dispose of it.
You can spread an infectious disease if you don’t handle this type of waste correctly.
What Is Biohazard Waste?
The two types of biomedical waste are general and infectious waste.
General medical wastes are just the materials used in healthcare, such as bandages, gloves, furniture, tools, syringes, tubing, packaging, and foodservice items.
Infectious waste is the biomedical waste that contains an infectious agent, such as a virus or bacteria.
An example of infectious medical waste would be blood or urine samples from a patient with the flu.
There are many different kinds of biohazardous wastes.
Examples include contaminated animal waste, insects, carcasses (including rodents), medical waste (such as trash that has come into contact with infected bodily fluids like blood, urine, or stool), and more.
Biohazardous wastes can also be transfer diseases such as hepatitis B, C, D, and HIV/AIDS.
People usually separate general biomedical waste from infectious biomedical waste.
However, it can be difficult to tell the difference between biomedical waste and the materials used to dispose of it.
It is important for professionals who handle dangerous materials like hazardous waste or biohazardous waste to know about the proper disposal of biomedical waste.
How Medical Professionals Should Dispose of Waste
Certain professionals must know the specific regulations about how to dispose of each kind.
In most cases, we must put anatomical waste into a separate container from infectious medical waste.
An example of anatomical waste would be an amputated limb, a surgical sponge or gauze, and placenta after childbirth.
Whenever dealing with infectious materials, use a biohazard bag for storage while transporting the material and until the material is treated appropriately.
The right type of bags can be found online or are often available at hospitals, clinics, laboratories, medical suppliers stores, veterinary clinics, etc.
Different types of biomedical waste require specific bags to ensure they are disposed of properly.
Medical waste can also include disposable sharps, which can be needles, syringes, and scalpels.
Dispose of such materials in a sharps container that is puncture-resistant or placed in a hard plastic or metal container with a secure lid.
Therefore, the waste cannot leak out during transportation with other garbage.
In most cases, medical waste should not be mixed with general waste. The regulations for each state and country vary when it comes to the disposal of biomedical waste.
So make sure to research any specific rules that pertain to the area where you practice or work.
A common mistake made when disposing of infectious medical waste is mixing general garbage with the biomedical waste container or bag.
We can incinerate some types of biomedical waste at high temperatures such as 600 degrees Fahrenheit. Incineration is necessary for sterilization.
After burning the waste in a special incinerator, one can seal it and dispose of it with the regular garbage.
Handlers must also safely and securely store biohazard material before disposing of it.
All containers must be leak-resistant, easily identifiable, and labeled. Containers must include one of the red biohazard symbols on them.
All staff members who deal with biohazards should have a clear written policy about medical waste disposal.
Medical waste, including biohazardous waste, should not accumulate in an area where it poses a threat of infection to other staff members.
How To Label Biohazard Waste
Proper labeling of infectious waste is essential to prevent the spread of disease and correct disposal. All containers should have a designated biohazard label.
The biohazard label must be fluorescent orange or red and orange and include the words “biohazard” with the universal biohazard symbol.
As mandated by the Department of Transportation (DOT), all medical waste must include specific information on storage and transportation.
Information includes what type of contamination is in the container (biohazardous, radioactive, chemical, etc.), the name of the generator, the transporter, and/or treatment facility.
Transportation of BioHazard Waste
In addition to the DOT regulations, under the Occupational Health and Safety Act of 1970 (OSHA), employees have a right to know what biohazardous waste is moving through their workspace.
In addition to safe handling procedures for these materials, all staff members who touch or are near these containers must be aware of the contents.
A vehicle transporting this type of waste must also have a properly maintained leak-proof tank to contain any spillage.
How Can A Company Get Biohazardous Waste Removed Safely?
In some cases, it may be best for a company to hire a biohazard waste removal service to keep the workplace safe and clean. It is especially true if multiple employees handle this type of material.
The trained professionals at the medical waste disposal company can provide this service safely, correctly, and legally.
What To Do If You Empty A Biohazard Waste Container In The Wrong Area
If you accidentally empty a biohazard waste container in the wrong area, such as a corridor or break room, clean it up immediately and disinfect the area.
The preferred method for cleaning up small spills is to use bleach water mixed with cat litter.
This mixture will quickly neutralize hazardous materials and ensure that no cross-contamination takes place.
After the disinfectant is in place, leave it for at least 10 minutes before removing any potentially harmful waste.
Biohazards At Home
The active ingredient in most household bleach is sodium hypochlorite, which can kill microorganisms.
Using a standard American household bleach diluted at one part of bleach to ten parts, water should be enough to disinfect items.
Soak the items for five minutes before rinsing them off.
When it comes to eating utensils, anything that goes in someone’s mouth must be properly disinfected before being allowed back into general circulation.
It is always best to err on the side of caution when dealing with an infectious disease like Covid. We can also use an alcohol solution of 70% isopropyl or ethanol to disinfect utensils.
If you get human fluids such as blood or urine on reusable house items, place all soiled reusable items in your washer.
Use one-half cup of bleach for each gallon of water capacity for your washer and run a cycle. Once that cycle completes, add detergent and wash in the next cycle.
Chemicals and toxins should be classified as infectious or non-infectious depending on the chemical. In addition, we must properly label chemical containers to reflect their contents.
It’s important to note that if a container is labeled “Biohazardous,” it does not necessarily mean that it has been tested for its infectivity.
Several chemicals will fall under the category of infectious waste, including cytotoxic, biocides, and mercury-containing chemicals.
Label any containers holding these chemicals with a Biohazard label to ensure safe handling. You should also make sure to dispose of chemical containers in an autoclave or puncture them to prevent re-use.
Construction sites that disturb more than one cubic yard of soil must collect the debris and transport it to a disposal facility.
This includes disturbing ground covered by an intact burial site, coffins, vaults, or even urns.
This includes areas for foundations, basements, footings, and trenches. The debris for these areas must be thought of as infectious. Workers should never dump such items in a landfill.
During a disaster recovery situation, organizations need to keep the public safe and healthy.
This means that during a disaster recovery plan, there must be defined management of both infectious and non-infectious biohazardous waste.
For example, during the aftermath of a flood, it is important to contain and clean up any contaminated water in a manner that will not allow for further contamination.
This extensive work effort includes safe disposing of wastewater, such as oil or gasoline that has mixed with floodwater.
Proper disposal includes containment of contaminated water and then cleaning it with a non-toxic absorbent, such as cat litter.
During cleanup efforts after a natural disaster, your physical protection is still necessary.
Anyone taking part in the cleanup should wear proper respiratory protection, such as full-face respirators and goggles, when in areas contaminated with waterborne biohazardous waste.
It is also important to disinfect contaminated equipment, such as mops or shovels, before using them again in a different area of the facility.
Failure to disinfect cleaning tools that have come into contact with infectious material will simply spread the infection.
In conclusion, please follow the proper guidelines for handling and disposing of biohazard waste.
Safe guidelines include the use of labels that make it easy to identify, transporting it appropriately, and placing hazardous materials in the correct area.
As long as this is followed, you can safely remove biohazard waste from your facility or home.
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