Medical Waste Disposal Faqs

blog post 9Q. What is considered medical waste?

A. Medical waste is all waste materials generated at health care facilities, such as hospitals, clinics, physician’s offices, dental practices, blood banks, and veterinary hospitals/clinics, as well as medical research facilities and laboratories.


The Medical Waste tracking Act of 1988 defines medical waste as “any solid waste that is generated in the diagnosis, treatment, or immunization of human beings or animals, in research pertaining thereto, or in the production or testing of biologicals.” This definition includes, but is not limited to:


Blood-soaked bandages

Culture dishes and other glassware

Discarded surgical gloves

Discarded surgical instruments

Discarded needles used to give shots or draw blood (e.g., medical sharps)

Cultures, stocks, swabs used to inoculate cultures

Removed body organs (e.g., tonsils, appendices, limbs)

Discarded lancets


Medical Waste Faqs

Q. How often do I need to dispose of medical waste?

A. For the two types of medical waste, biohazardous and sharps waste, the storage times do differ.  A facility that generates less than 20 pounds of biohazardous waste per month may store it for 30 days.  The waste may be stored for up to 90 days if kept at 32° F or below.  Sharps waste can be stored for 30 days, once the container is full.   To determine how frequently your facility requires pickup by a medical waste transporter, you should weigh the amount of biohazardous waste generated in one month.  Do not include the amount of sharps waste generated in the weight.

Q. What Govt. entities regulate medical waste?

A. In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates household, industrial, manufacturing and commercial solid and hazardous wastes under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).

In addition some tips to keep in mind:

When disposing of Medical Waste…

  1. Always immediately dispose of needles after using them.
  2. Do not overfill Sharps containers.
  3. Never place anything other than intended medical waste in to the container.
  4. Make sure containers are properly marked.
  5.  If you find you have come into contact with another person’s blood or other body fluids while disposing, wash the area immediately with hot, soapy water for up to a minute before rinsing.


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