Medical waste disposal is a heavily regulated industry to ensure the safety of the population and the environment. Because of regulations, the term regulated medical waste has been coined. But what exactly does it mean and what are some examples of it?
The Medical Waste Tracking Act of 1988
In 1988, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) passed the Medical Waste Tracking Act. This act clarified the following items
- What is medical waste
- Which medical wastes would be subject to regulations
- A “cradle-to-grave” tracking system
- Waste separation and management standards
- Record-keeping requirements
This act laid the foundation for the regulations of medical waste. After expiring in 1991, the responsibility to regulate medical waste fell on each individual state. Regulations vary from state to state.
What is Medical Waste?
The EPA defines regulated medical waste as “healthcare waste that may be contaminated by blood, body fluids or other potentially infectious materials.” Essentially, regulated medical waste is the same as medical waste, except the term outright states it’s regulated.
Examples of Regulated Medical Waste
Each individual state is responsible for deciding which medical wastes to regulate. Examples of regulated medical waste include:
- Biohazard waste
- Chemotherapy waste
- Sharps waste
- Pharmaceutical waste
Containing infections and keeping our environment clean are key to a healthy world. The medical waste we produce does need to be handled and treated, but our regulations ensure they are treated properly. That way, we know we are doing all we can to stay in good health.