Definition of Biomedical Waste
Managing Biomedical Waste
Statutes, Regulations and Guidelines
Definition of Biomedical Waste
Biomedical Waste means
any solid waste which contains pathological waste, biological waste,
cultures, and stocks of infectious agents and associated biologicals,
contaminated animal carcasses (body parts, their bedding, and other wastes
from such animals), chemotherapy waste, discarded medical equipment and
parts, not including expendable supplies and materials, which have not
- Pathological waste means all recognizable human
tissues and body parts except teeth, which are removed during surgery,
obstetrical procedures, autopsy, and laboratory procedures.
- Biological waste means blood and blood products,
exudates, secretions, suctionings, and other body fluids, which contains
free liquids and cannot be or are not directly discarded into a municipal
- Cultures and stocks of infectious agents and associated
biologicals including cultures from medical and pathological laboratories,
cultures and stocks of infectious agents from research and industrial
laboratories, wastes from the production of biologicals, discarded
live and attenuated vaccines, and culture dishes and devices used to
transfer, inoculate, and mix cultures.
- Contaminated animal carcasses, body parts, their
bedding, and other wastes from such animals which are infected with
or which have been exposed to infectious agents, capable of causing
disease in man.
- Sharps, which mean any discarded article that may
cause punctures or cuts. Such waste includes, but is not limited to,
items such as needles, IV tubing and syringes with needles attached,
and scalpel blades.
- Chemotherapy waste, which means any disposable material
which has come in contact with cytotoxic/antineoplastic agents toxic
to cells) and/or antineoplastic agents (agents that inhibit or prevent
the growth and spread of tumors or malignant cells) during the preparation,
handling, and administration of such agents. Such waste includes, but
is not limited to, masks, gloves, gowns, empty IV tubing bags and vials,
and other contaminated materials. The above waste must first be classified
as empty which means such quantity that it is not subject to other
federal or state waste management regulations prior to being handled
as biomedical waste.
- Discarded medical equipment and parts, excluding
expendable supplies and materials included in the above wastes, which
have not been decontaminated, and that were in contact with infectious
Unless exempt under the regulations, these requirements
apply to all persons generating or handling biomedical waste, including
but not limited to: ambulatory service centers, blood banks, clinics,
county health departments, dental offices, funeral homes, health maintenance
organizations (HMOs), hospitals, laboratories, medical buildings, physicians
offices, veterinary offices, research and manufacturing facilities, nursing
homes, and biomedical waste transportation, storage, treatment, and disposal
Storage and Containment of Biomedical Waste
- Containment of biomedical waste shall be in a manner
and location which affords protection from animals, rain and wind,
does not provide a breeding place or a food source for insects and
rodents, and minimizes exposure to the public.
- Biomedical waste shall be segregated by separate
containment from other waste at the point of origin.
- Biomedical waste, except for sharps, shall be placed
in containers that are impervious to moisture and have strength sufficient
to preclude ripping, tearing, or bursting under normal conditions of
use. The containers shall be securely closed so as to prevent leakage
or expulsion of solid or liquid wastes during storage, handling, or
- Sharps shall be contained for storage, transportation,
treatment and subsequent disposal in leak-proof, rigid, puncture-resistant
containers that are taped closed or tightly lidded to preclude loss
- Rigid containers of discarded sharps and all other
disposable containers used for containment of biomedical waste shall
be red or orange in color or clearly identified with the universal
biohazard symbol or clearly marked with the word "Biohazard".
- Biomedical waste contained in disposable containers
as prescribed above, shall be placed for storage, handling, or transport
in disposable or reusable pails, cartons, boxes, drums, dumpsters,
or portable bins. The containment system shall have a tight fitting
cover and be kept clean and in good repair.
- The containers may be of any color and shall be
conspicuously labeled with the universal biohazard symbol and the word "Biohazard" on
the sides so as to be readily visible from any lateral direction when
the container is upright.
- Reusable containers used for shipment of biomedical
waste shall be thoroughly washed and decontaminated each time they
- Reusable pails, drums, dumpsters or bins used for
containment of biomedical waste shall not be used for other purposes
except after being decontaminated by procedures as described above
and after the universal biohazard symbol and word "Biohazard" are
Transfer of Biomedical Waste
to Off-Site Treatment or Disposal Facilities
- Any generator of biomedical waste shall transfer
custody of the waste only to a collector who is operating under authority
of the regulations.
- Biomedical waste shall not be transported in the
same vehicle with other solid waste unless the biomedical waste is
contained in a separate, fully enclosed leak-proof container within
the vehicle compartment or unless all of the waste is to be treated
as biomedical waste.
- Biomedical waste shall be delivered for storage,
including intermediate transfer, and treatment only to a facility or
location for which there is a valid and appropriate operating permit.
- Surfaces of transport vehicles that have contacted
spilled or leaked biomedical waste shall be decontaminated.
- Equipment used to transport waste from the generator
to the off-site treatment or disposal facility may not destroy the
integrity of the container.
- Vehicles used for the transport of biomedical waste
shall not be used for transportation of food or food products.
Treatment of Biomedical
If treated in accordance
with the following procedures, the waste shall no longer be considered
biomedical waste and may be combined and handled with regular solid waste.
Biomedical waste shall be treated by one of the following methods prior
to disposal at a permitted solid waste disposal facility.
- Incineration in a thermal treatment technology facility
that provides complete combustion of waste to render it nonpathogenic.
- Decontamination by heating with steam under pressure
(autoclave) so as to render the biomedical waste noninfectious.
- Other methods as approved by the Director.
- Fluid or semisolid waste may be discharged to a
sewage treatment system that provides secondary treatment of waste
if approved by the agency responsible for the operation of the sewage
- Biomedical wastes consisting of recognizable human
anatomical remains shall not be disposed of by landfilling.
- Chemotherapy waste shall be treated at a permitted
thermal treatment technology facility or other approved facility.
- Steam decontamination may not be used for treatment
of chemotherapy waste.
- All facilities treating regulated quantities of
biomedical waste must, at a minimum, comply with the above criteria.
Commercial biomedical waste treatment facilities may not construct
or operate a biomedical waste treatment facility without first obtaining
a solid waste handling permit.
- On-site biomedical waste treatment facilities are
required to obtain a solid waste permit-by-Rule, and must comply with
all applicable requirements. Commercial biomedical waste treatment
facility means a facility that accepts over 25 percent of its biomedical
waste from other, off-site, facilities, which are not owned by the
facility owning the treatment or disposal facility, generally for a
Disposal of Biomedical
- Biomedical wastes treated in accordance with the
regulations shall be properly disposed of at a properly permitted facility,
unless otherwise approved by the Director.
- Biomedical waste from generators of less than 100
pounds per month shall be properly disposed of at a municipal solid
waste landfill or treatment facility permitted under authority of these
Rules or other facilities approved by the Director.
- The disposal of untreated biomedical waste, from
generators of more than 100 pounds per month, by landfilling, is prohibited.
In addition to the state medical waste environmental
regulations there are some Occupational Safety and Health Administration
(OSHA) rules that apply to medical/infectious waste. Georgia is
one of 26 states covered entirely by the federal OSHA program. This
program is operated by the Occupational
Safety and Health Administration. OSHA rules (Occupational Exposure
to Bloodborne Pathogens Standards) impact various aspects of medical/infectious
waste, including management of sharps, requirements for containers that
hold or store medical/infectious waste, labeling of medical/infectious
waste bags/containers, and employee training. These requirements
can be found in the HERC section entitled OSHA Standards for Regulated Waste.
Statutes, Regulations and
of Georgia, Department of Natural Resources, Environmental Protection
Division, Chapter 391-3-4 Solid Waste Management
Department of Natural Resources, Solid Waste Management Program
Biomedical Collection and Treatment Facilities, Permit by Rule (MS Excel) [Revised Jun 2014]
Biomedical Waste Treatment Facilities, Commercial (MS Excel) [Revised Jan 2014]