In the medical and scientific fields, medical waste is a part of everyday life. Each state has different regulations on how to properly dispose of it. Because this type of waste, also known as biomedical waste or biohazardous waste, may carry infectious diseases, safe disposal is essential. There are five main types of biohazardous waste; each of these requires a different procedure for proper handling.
1. Solid Biohazardous Waste
Solid biohazardous waste includes any tools containing or contaminated with human or animal material such as tissue, fluid, etc. Examples of solid biohazards are Petri dishes, pipettes, and personal protection equipment (PPE). These are placed in a bag marked for autoclaving (high-pressure washing through steam,) and then disposed of as regular waste.
2. Liquid Biohazardous Waste
This type refers to the human or animal specimens of blood, fluid, etc. The quantity must be 25 milliliters or more to count as liquid waste; otherwise, it is counted as a solid biohazard. Otherwise, as a liquid, the waste must go into a leak-proof bag and be placed in a solid container like a tray or a bin. Through chemical treatment or autoclaving, the liquid can go on its way out of the lab.
3. Sharp Biohazardous Waste
Also known as Sharps, this type of material needs a special form of disposal. The general rule is, if it is sharp enough to puncture skin, it is sharp enough to pierce through plastic as well. Broken vials or vials containing contaminants, needles, scalpels, microscope slides, Pasteur pipettes, disposable syringes, and capillary tubes fall under this category. Whether contaminated or not, sharps must be disposed into an autoclave bag within a solid container to be decontaminated on-site and then removed.
4. Pathological Biohazardous Waste
Pathological waste, on the other hand, is the actual removed human or animal specimen, from body parts to organs to cells, in a research or surgical capacity. These are sealed in a double bag and also placed within a solid container to ensure that no leakage occurs. Pathological waste is usually incinerated or receives chemical treatment.
Maryland Standards of Disposal
Maryland’s medical waste requirements are dictated by the Department of the Environment. Facilities generating biohazardous waste must fill out the appropriate paperwork and obtain their identification number in order to carry out standard medical waste disposal procedures. However, if an accident occurs in the lab, the facility should call a facilities cleaning company to thoroughly take care of the mess.
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