funeral home waste

How to Manage Funeral Home Waste

Funeral homes are responsible for preparing and processing the deceased while working with families, ministries, and cemeteries to provide meaningful last moments for the deceased’s loved ones. The medical directors will generally perform the embalming process to preserve a corpse by treating it with chemicals. During this time, medical service providers will treat a lot of biohazardous waste and dispose of it with proper care to maintain the safety of employees and guests, while avoiding legal liabilities. Knowing the types of waste generated and how to dispose of it will keep your business safe and compliant. In this article, I will go over five types of waste that funeral homes commonly produce and their proper disposal method.   

Five common types of generated waste

  1. Blood: When the deceased body is in the embalming process, the blood drains and various chemical fluids replace it through the veins. These chemicals can be toxic, typically including formaldehyde, methanol, sodium borate, sodium nitrate, glycerin, coloring agents, and water. It is standard to manage the blood and excess chemicals after embalming safely.  

    Double bagging, using biohazardous approved plastic storage containers, and specific absorbents, may be required to dispose of this pathological waste. It’s imperative to ensure that all pathological waste is labeled correctly to prevent accidental exposure.
  2. Sharps: Sharps can cause cuts or puncture wounds. Sharps include needles, scalpels, glass ampoules, razor blades, sharp-pointed pieces of bones and teeth, stitch cutters, and other disposable sharp instruments. These sharps may also have exposure to bodily fluids and toxic chemicals.   

    Loose sharps must be placed in sturdy, puncture-proof, small, enclosed containers. The sharps containers must be clearly labeled to stay safe and out of harm’s way until a medical waste service professional can pick them up.   
  3. Medications and Pharmaceuticals: When bodies are embalming, they may still have traces of certain medications in their veins. Accidental exposure could include highly toxic chemotherapy elements that may cause irreversible damage. 

    It is essential to follow the guidelines for handling and disposing of pathological and toxic waste and to avoid contact.  
  4. PPE: Personal protective equipment includes gloves, masks, full body suits, eye protection, etc. This equipment will likely face exposure to bodily fluids, blood, and other pathogens that could create danger.   

    These contaminated items are placed into red biohazardous bags to avoid contamination and accumulation.   
  5. Materials used for body Preparation: Tissue builders, cosmetics, and adhesives used for body preparation may contain harmful solvents or chlorinated compounds, such as trichloroethylene and perchloroethylene. It is essential to handle these chemicals and any gauze and swabs used during application as hazardous waste. Any gauze or swabs used to apply these materials require proper disposal.  

    Funeral homes generate many types of waste, and most are considered biohazardous. Awareness of the types of waste your home produces will allow you to decipher the proper handling and management of each. MedPro Disposal offers a broad spectrum of services, and we are ready to take care of all your waste disposal needs. Click here for your free quote and see what we can save you! 
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