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South Dakota

Infectious
Medical Waste

 

Waste Categories
Definition of Regulated Medical Waste
Management of Infectious Medical Waste
OSHA Regulations
Statutes, Regulations and Guidelines
Contacts


Waste Categories

South Dakota classifies wastes generated by health care facilities into four main categories:

Hazardous wastes.  This refers to a class of wastes specifically defined in a federal law (the Resource conservation and Recovery Act, or RCRA).  These wastes contain certain toxic chemicals or have certain characteristics that cause them to be a significant risk to the environment and/or human health.  Some certain chemotherapy waste is hazardous waste.

Medical waste.  Medical waste means any solid waste which is generated in the diagnosis, treatment, or immunization of human beings or animals, in research, or in the production or testing of biologicals.  It does not include any hazardous waste, radioactive waste, or household waste.

Regulated medical waste (RMW).  These are a special subcategory of medical wastes that present significant health risks such as the potential for infectious disease transmission, and special rules apply to them. 

Municipal solid waste.  These wastes present fewer environmental or health risks than medical wastes.  Municipal solid waste can be disposed of into dumpsters.

It is important that you categorize your facility's waste accurately.

  • Hazardous waste disposed of as regulated medical waste or municipal solid waste, or regulated medical waste disposed of as municipal solid waste are violations of the law and can result in substantial penalties.  
  • Conversely, most medical waste may be handled as general solid waste and does not require special handling or treatment. 
  • Correctly identifying and segregating your IW can reduce the cost of disposal.  Infectious medical waste makes up only a small portion of the total medical waste stream.  Some facilities, such as long-term care facilities, generate medical waste, but little or no infectious medical waste.  Use the guidance and references below to accurately categorize your wastes.  For additional help, see Contacts below.
  • Infectious waste that is treated to specific standards can be disposed of as municipal solid waste, provided that no local rules prohibit it.

Definition of Regulated Medical Waste

Regulated medical waste is solid waste generated in the diagnosis, treatment, or immunization of human beings or animals, in research pertaining to diseases of humans or animals, in research pertaining to diseases of humans or animals, or in the production or testing of biologicals, as listed below:

  • Cultures and stocks of infectious agents and associated biologicals.
  • Pathological waste.
  • Human blood and blood products.
  • Sharps.
  • Animal waste that are known to be contaminated with human pathogens.
  • Isolation Waste such as biological and discarded materials contaminated wit blood, excretion, exudates, or secretions from humans who are isolated to protect others from certain highly communicable diseases.

Managing Regulated Medical Waste

Regulated medical waste must either be disposed of by incineration in accordance or treated by steam sterilization, chemical disinfectant, or an equally effective treatment method.  Treated regulated medical waste may be disposed of as a solid waste.

Healthcare facilities sending their regulated medical waste off-site for disposal must meet comply with regulations covering packaging, labeling, and storage.  These are discussed below.

Container requirements.  Containers of regulated medical waste for transport off-site must meet the following requirements:

  • Containers must be rigid, leak-resistant, impervious to moisture, resistant to tearing or bursting under normal conditions of use and handling, and sealed to prevent leakage during transport.
  • Treated and untreated sharps and sharps with residual fluids must be placed in packaging that is rigid, leak-resistant, and puncture-resistant.
  • Quantities of fluids greater than 20 cubic centimeters must be placed in packaging that is break-resistant and tightly lidded or stoppered.
  • Oversized regulated medical waste need not be placed into containers, but any special handling instructions must be attached to the waste. Generators may use one or more containers to meet these requirements.

If a healthcare facility plans to reuse containers, they must comply with the following rules:

  • All nonrigid packaging and inner liners must be managed as regulated medical waste and may not be reused.
  • Any container used for the storage or transport, or both, of regulated medical waste and designated for reuse once emptied must be decontaminated if the container shows signs of visible contamination.
  • If any container used for the storage or transport, or both, of regulated medical waste is for any reason not capable of being rendered free of any visible signs of contamination, the container must be managed as regulated medical waste and labeled, marked, and treated or disposed of.

Storage Requirements.  Storage of regulated medical waste before treatment or disposal on-site or transport off-site must comply with the following storage requirements:

  • Must be stored in a manner and location that maintains the integrity of the packaging and provides protection from the elements.
  • Must be maintained in a non-putrescent state, using refrigeration when necessary.
  • Must be stored in a manner that affords protection from animals and does not provide a breeding place or a food source for insects and rodents.
  • All on-site storage of regulated medical waste must be in a designated area away from traffic flow patterns and must be accessible only to authorized personnel.
  • Outdoor storage areas containing regulated medial waste must be locked to prevent unauthorized access.
  • Containment of regulated medical waste must be effected in such a manner that no discharge or release of any waste occurs.

Labeling Requirements.  Before transporting regulated medical waste or offering it for transport off-site, each package of untreated medical wastes must have a water-resistant label affixed to or printed on the outside of the container.  The label must include the words “Medical Waste” or “Infectious Waste” or display the universal biohazard symbol.  Plastic bags used as inner packaging need not display a label.

Healthcare facilities must mark each package of regulated medical waste according to the following marking requirements before the waste is transported off-site:

  • The outermost surface of each package prepared for shipment must be marked with a water-resistant identification tag of sufficient dimension to include the generator’s name and address, the transporter’s name and address, the date of shipment and the identification of contents as medical waste.
  • If the generator has used inner containers, including sharps and fluid containers, each inner container must b e marked with indelible ink or imprinted with water-resistant tags.  The marking must contain the generator’s name and address.
  • If the generator has used inner containers, including sharps and fluid containers each inner container must be marked with indelible ink or imprinted with water-resistant tags.  The marking must contain the generator’s name and address.

Incinerator and Other Treatment Regulations

Health care facilities may operate a medical waste incinerator on-site for the disposal of regulated medical waste.  There are various rules that apply to these facilities, which are found in Article 74:35:11 See Statutes, Regulations and Guidelines below.  Incinerators must be permitted before use.

For treatment methods other than incineration, any process designed to treat or actually treating greater than 200 pounds of regulated medical waste for each treatment cycle may not be constructed or operated unless all appropriate local, state, and federal permits and approvals have been obtained.

OSHA Regulations

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.  South Dakota 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 Guidelines

Rule 74:35 Medical Waste

Contacts

South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources

More Information

None located.