Biohazard waste, also known as infectious or biomedical waste, is any type of waste that involves infectious or potentially infectious materials or substances. Examples include bodily fluids, such as blood, infectious agents, pathological waste, animal waste, sharps and DNA or RNA samples.
Proper handling will avoid spreading infection. It’s important to know the different types of biohazard waste in order to safely handle and dispose of it.
Liquid Biohazard Waste
Liquid biohazard waste includes any liquid waste from humans or animals that has a high chance of spreading disease or infection if handled incorrectly. Examples include:
- Blood elements
- Bodily fluids
- Semi-liquid materials
If the amount of liquid is less than 25 milliliters in volume, you can dispose of it as normal solid waste. But if the volume is greater than 25 milliliters, you’ll need to dispose of it using a different, more controlled method.
Dry Biohazard Waste
Dry, or solid, biohazard waste is any waste that contacts human or animal materials. Examples include:
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- Petri dishes
- Towels or linens
- Waste from viruses, bacteria and live or inactive vaccines
When preparing for disposal, place your dry biohazard waste in a labeled container with an autoclave bag. The waste is shipped off, autoclaved (disinfected using a heated steam system) and set to a medical waste landfill facility.
Sharps are considered biohazard waste. Any device that can puncture skin is considered shar and can potentially spread infectious materials or disease. Examples include:
Your sharps have their own containers designed specifically for them. These help protect from injuries and avoid further contact. There are different sized containers for different sized sharps. A medical waste disposal company will pick up and dispose of your sharps in a safe, controlled environment.
Human anatomical specimens are considered pathological biohazard waste. Waste material from biopsies or body parts removed from surgeries and autopsies are considered pathological. They all could include infectious bacteria or agents, and include human or animal:
- Other body parts removed or biopsied
To prevent leaks, spills and the spread of infectious materials, you should double bag your pathological biohazard waste. To further protect yourself and the waste, you should then place it in a sturdy plastic container. Pathological waste needs to either be chemically treated or incinerated.
Microbiological biohazard waste can contain infectious organisms, microorganisms and biologicals. Agents created for antibiotic or biological use are also considered microbiological waste. Examples include:
- Disposable culture dishes
- Specimen cultures
- Discarded viruses
- Devices that mixed cultures
- Waste from biologicals or serums
- Waste from clinical research that involve spreadable infectious materials
Autoclaving is a common form of disposal for microbiological waste. Once they are stored, they are then treated based on the category of waste they fall under, such as sharps, solid or liquid waste.
All biohazardous waste has the potential to spread infectious agents. It’s important to know what falls under biohazardous waste and what specific category. That way, you can properly dispose of it.
Contacting a medical waste disposal company and following guidelines will ensure all your biohazard waste is safely and carefully treated and disposed of to prevent possible dangerous accidents.