What is biohazardous waste?

What is biohazardous waste?

Laboratories, universities, hospitals and clinics produce different types of healthcare related waste. However, not all of them are considered hazardous for the human / animal health or the environment.

Biohazardous waste is any biological waste that is potentially dangerous for human or animal health, such as:

  • human blood and its components, in liquid or semi-liquid form, dried or not
  • human bodily fluids (including semen, vaginal secretions, cerebral spinal fluid, synovial fluid, pleural fluid, pericardial fluid, peritoneal fluid, amniotic fluid, and saliva), in liquid or semi-liquid form, dried or not
  • human pathological waste: all human tissues, organs, and body parts
  • animal waste: all animal carcasses and body parts
  • microbiological waste: laboratory waste containing infectious agents (including discarded specimen cultures, stocks of etiologic agents, discarded live and attenuated viruses, wastes from the production of biologicals and serums, disposable culture dishes, and devices used to transfer, inoculate and mix cultures)
  • sharps waste: sharp medical utensils such as scalpels, needles, glass slides, lancets, glass pipettes, broken glass that have been contaminated with potentially infectious material

To help laboratories and healthcare operators navigate through the strict legislation on hazardous waste disposal, the Department of Health has created the following classification:

Offensive waste

‘Offensive waste’ is non-clinical waste that’s non-infectious and doesn’t contain pharmaceutical or chemical substances, but may be unpleasant to anyone who comes into contact with it.

You must segregate healthcare offensive waste from both clinical and mixed municipal wastes.

If you’ve produced more than 7kg of municipal offensive waste, or have more than one bag in a collection period, you must segregate it from any mixed municipal waste.

If you’ve produced less, you can dispose of your municipal offensive waste in your mixed municipal waste (‘black bag’).

Plaster and similar wastes

Most plaster waste is non-infectious.

It should be kept separately from any plaster waste that’s infectious, which must be placed in the bagged infectious clinical waste stream.

Waste medicines

A medicine is considered to be cytotoxic or cytostatic for waste classification purposes if it’s any of the following:

  • acutely toxic
  • carcinogenic
  • mutagenic
  • toxic for reproduction

Sharps and related waste

The safe management and disposal of sharps waste is vital to ensure the risks associated with handling sharps are eliminated and to ensure compliance with the Hazardous Waste Regulations (Special Waste Regulations in Scotland). The disposal of sharps waste is determined by the medicinal contamination. To ensure compliance with the Hazardous Waste Regulations the correct segregation and storage of sharps in colour coded bins and special containers is essential.

  • Orange bins – For the storage and disposal of sharps not containing or contaminated with medicines, such as sharps used for blood samples and acupuncture
  • Yellow bins – For the storage and disposal of sharps contaminated with or containing medicines or anaesthetics
  • Purple bins – For the disposal of sharps and medicines with Cyto-toxic or Cyto-static contents or contamination
  • Blue bins – For the disposal of out of date drugs, used drug denaturing kits and discarded items from use in the handling of pharmaceuticals such as bottles or boxes with residues, gloves, masks, connecting tubes, syringe bodies and drug vials

Anatomical waste

Anatomical waste from operating theatres requires special containment and must be stored, transported and disposed of as hazardous waste to ensure that there is no risk to human health or to the environment.

Anatomical waste includes:

  • Body parts
  • Organs
  • Blood bags and blood preserves

Laboratory chemicals and photochemicals

Hazardous chemical waste – includes:

  • Wastes classified as ‘hazardous’ in The Hazardous Waste Regulations 2005 amended 2016 (Schedules 1 and 2) or in The European Waste Catalogue (EWC) ‘List of Wastes’.
  • Other wastes which display one or more of the hazardous properties (HP1 to HP15) listed in the Regulations (see the Environment Agency Guidance WM3).

Any medical supplies or other equipment (such as gloves, towels, used bandages and dressings, tubes) that have come into contact with hazardous materials and consequently exhibit more than trace elements of these materials are themselves also classified as hazardous waste.

The Environmental Protection Act includes a ‘Duty of Care’ which requires all persons involved in the handling of waste, including producers, to take reasonable and appropriate measures to ensure that:

  • Waste is only kept, treated, deposited or disposed of in accordance with a waste management licence or other authorisation;
  • Waste does not escape from the control of the holder;
  • Waste is only transferred to authorised persons such as registered waste carriers or licensed disposal operations permitted to accept that type of waste;
  • All transfers / movements of the waste are accompanied by an adequate written description of the waste which will allow waste to be identified and subsequently handled correctly.

All Waste Matters offer specialist laboratory waste disposal services to an extensive client base throughout the UK, from commercial labs to schools, colleges and universities.

From our fully licensed waste management facility site in Kent, we can offer a tailored laboratory waste disposal and collection service of any unwanted chemicals and laboratory waste.

We collect with our own vehicles and our licensed laboratory waste disposal facility is frequently inspected by the Environment Agency. This is essential in providing our customers with complete peace of mind and ensuring the lab waste is treated in – keeping and exceeding all recommended guidelines.

About the Author
stewart

stewart