Medical and bio-waste disposal is a necessity in more industries than one would typically think. Of course, hospitals, dental offices, and other primary care clinics all need biomedical waste properly disposed of by professionals. However, they aren't the only ones. In general, medical or bio-waste contains infectious and potentially harmful materials. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Medical Waste Guidance, all medical or bio-waste categories include infectious, hazardous, radioactive, and general waste.

Moreover, there are strict regulations regarding collection, transport, and overall disposal. Thus, any industry where bio-waste is a part of day-to-day operations needs to utilize proper bio-waste disposal procedures and methods. That said, at least ten industries require medical waste collection, transport, and adequate discarding. Let's go over them now.

Doctors and Hospitals

Clearly, doctors and hospitals require proper bio-waste disposal. It's not uncommon for hospitals to have discarded sharps and other healthcare waste. Due to the potentially hazardous nature of these two types of medical waste, it's imperative that waste disposal professionals handle all three steps of removal. Similarly, doctors' offices deal with healthcare waste on a daily basis, whether it's from drawing blood or standard prevention services. Smaller practices may utilize mail-back or actual collection services, while many hospitals have on-site treatment. Regardless of the disposal method of choice, there's still science to discarding medical waste. If you're interested in finding a local medical waste disposal company in your area or would just like more information on the proper waste disposal procedures in this industry, then click here.

Health and Diagnostics

When it comes to health and diagnostics, you generally find bio-waste like broken lab hardware, body fluids, and chemical reagents. Medical waste disposal professionals can only discard waste of this particular kind. Consequently, the proper procedure here should include a reputable collection and disposal company. Moreover, waste that's ready to be collected needs to be stored correctly until it's time for pick-up and transport.

Biological Labs

Here, laboratories that deal with microbe cultures, human or animal tissues, and collected body fluids absolutely need proper disposal measures in place. Typically, trained personnel and staff handle waste materials of this nature and ensure that everything is appropriately disinfected or sterilized. This usually involves a process called autoclaving. This specific method uses high-pressure steam to kill off any hazardous germs, spores, or bacteria. Via this process, for approximately 60 minutes at 121 degrees Celsius, medical waste is effectively neutralized.

Assisted Living Facilities

Senior citizens and individuals who need specialized care often have access to on-site healthcare services. Due to the various medical needs that a person at an assisted living facility/home may have, it's generally good practice to have a waste disposal company handle any and all medical waste. More often than not, these specific facilities generate a substantial amount of regulated waste. For instance, assisted living and retirement/nursing homes tend to have medical waste that includes used diapers/incontinence devices, expired medications, and sharps (syringes, lancelets, etc.). Therefore, professional assistance with bio-waste should always be the standard. Note that most states do require these facilities to employ experienced medical waste transporters.

Veterinary Clinics

Yet another industry that needs to utilize proper disposal practices is veterinary clinics. Animals, like humans, need preventive healthcare services. Moreover, sick family pets often require medical treatment. As a result, these clinics generate regulated waste. Since improper veterinary medical waste disposal can lead to hefty fines and potential harm to the surrounding communities, there are key guidelines that should be followed here. As a rule of thumb, compliant veterinarian waste disposal should include properly packaging waste, manifest waste destruction, and proper transport. For instance, relegated waste that weighs more than fifty pounds requires a permit. Thus, working with a professional waste disposal company can ensure that you follow the necessary guidelines and have the correct paperwork/permits.

Public Sanitation

The Department of Public Sanitation (DPS) also needs professional and adequate regulated waste disposal. Unsurprisingly, many people don't follow the EPA guidelines and regulations when it comes to discarding bio-waste. When hazardous and infectious material ends at the local landfill or in the city's water system, it still has to be properly discarded. DPS is responsible and equipped to deal with household or municipal waste only. Of course, that doesn't stop people from disposing of hazardous materials combined with their household waste. Since it's illegal to essentially process this waste, DPS outsources any regulated waste removal to bio-waste disposal companies when this situation occurs.

Park Management

Public and state parks utilize experienced disposal companies for primary removal of animal or wildlife carcasses. Depending on the type of wildlife, disposal methods can be fairly straightforward. One particular disposal method that's commonly used here is above ground burial/surface disposal. Other ways that are employed are composting, incineration, below-ground burial, discarding in a licensed landfill, as well as other options. Being able to decipher which disposal procedure is best and what they all entail is again best left to the professionals. This is especially true when possible groundwater contamination is the likely outcome if a carcass is improperly discarded.

Pest Control

Along those same lines, pest control agencies and private companies tend to find themselves in a similar situation as park management personnel. Once again, the issue of contamination and harm to the community arises. However, here, the focus is less on the animal carcasses and more on the harsh/toxic chemicals that were likely used to subdue the pest. More than likely, the deceased animal or pest has ingested chemicals that are harmful to other animals and humans. Thus, disposing of animal carcasses should be done via a bio-waste company for collection and discarding.

Beauty and Personal Grooming

The beauty and personal grooming industry generates regulated/bio-waste. A prime example of items that need to be properly disposed of include scissors, hair clippers, human hair, harsh chemicals like professional-strength dyes, and more. Not only is this a possibility that cut hair may contain parasites or lice, but the hair might also contain colorants, waxes, and other possibly harmful substances that could cause serious health issues if they leach into the groundwater. Likewise, spas, plastic surgeon offices, and even acupuncturists all generate medical or bio-waste. These particular establishments usually have sharps, human tissue, and body fluids—all of which need to be properly discarded.

Tattoo Shops

Tattoo shops also need to discard used needles and blood-soaked bandages properly. Even inks that have been contaminated require different disposal practices. In addition to needles and bandages, protective gloves, cotton swabs, ink caps, face masks, paper towels, leftover ointment, and protective covers are all considered regulated medical waste. Note that most metals can be autoclaved and used again. Thus, needle bars, tattoo machine tubs, piercing needles, and more can be sterilized for later usage.

Collecting and Separating Medical Waste

These are just a few industries that should be handling their bio-waste appropriately. Nevertheless, whatever the trade or business, if your day-to-day operations generate medical waste, it's imperative that you learn how to separate medical waste to ensure safe/proper disposal. Moreover, you should prioritize the correct disposal practices for several reasons. Legally, complying with OSHA guidelines means you're likely to be less liable for issues down the road. Environmentally speaking, utilizing the correct disposal methods will reduce the potential for contamination and keep our landfills free of hazardous materials. Proper care also ensures or helps reduce the probability of the public being exposed to infectious or harmful agents.

Bio-Waste Treatment Steps

In general, you should still have a working knowledge of the entire regulated waste treatment/disposal process. However, it's still highly recommended that you outsource or employ an experienced medical waste disposal company. That said, there are essentially four crucial treatment steps. The first step is segregation and collection. Once harmful items and materials are in the appropriate containers or bags, then it's time for the second step—transportation. After your medical waste is safely and correctly transported to a treatment facility, the appropriate method of disposal is implemented, i.e., the third step. In accordance with OSHA guidelines, depending on the type or category of waste, the following disposal options are available—incineration, autoclaving, irradiation, and chemical disinfection. The fourth and final step is for you to receive a certification of destruction. This certificate should clearly indicate the treatment date, location, chain of custody, and proof of compliance.

Final Note

5.9 million tons of medical or bio-waste are generated each year in the U.S. Thus, improper disposal of even a fraction of the annually generated amount could have devasting consequences for everyone. Therefore, to ensure that your medical waste is discarded correctly, you need to be clear on your industry’s OSHA guidelines and local regulations. Ultimately, it's highly recommended that you work with an experienced bio-waste disposal company. Doing so will save you time and money, keep you safe, as well as compliant.