A particular category of medical waste that requires special attention from medical facilities are called biohazardous waste. From the name itself, it’s the kind of garbage that may potentially contain chemicals or biological agents that are harmful to the general population if not properly disposed of.
If biohazardous waste disposal methods are not carried out correctly, agents such as mold, parasites, viruses, bacteria, and other microorganisms present in the biohazardous waste can harm the health or may even be fatal.
Sharps are objects that have sharp points or edges that have the potential to wound the skin. Examples are needles, lancets, razor blades, scalpels, and glass slides. There should be designated containers for disposing of sharps. These containers should be made of hard materials that should be puncture-proof and leak-proof.
Once the sharps are inside the container, they should be difficultto be reassessed. When the container is about three-fourths full, it should be ready to be disposed of. These containers can be placed at designated pick-up points or could be picked up by an authorized specialist.
Liquid Biohazardous Waste
Biological liquids including pooled clinical specimen liquids, culture media, etc., are examples of liquid biohazardous waste. These wastes are disposed of in the lab sink while wearing proper protection such as gloves, lab coat, and splash goggles.
The standard containers for these are vacuum flasks. Remember to disinfect it before utilizing to prevent the growth of contaminating agents inside the flask. As all biohazardous waste disposal methods suggest, the containers should be labeled appropriately, leak-proof, and non-breakable. Cleaning must also be done regularly.
Dry Biohazardous Waste
Lab consumables such as gloves, serological pipettes, and disposable culture flasks that are regularly exposed to chemicals or biological materials that can potentially be dangerous or infectious fall under this category. Store these in a biohazard bag that should always remain closed when not in use. The bag should then be transferred in a secondary biohazard container at the pick-up point. These waste bags should then be incinerated or autoclaved as the final treatment.
All unfixed human or animal tissues, which includes organ and bones, that were used in a research lab are considered tissue biowaste. They are stored in biohazard bags or sealable bags. Again, there should be a secondary biohazard container at their pick-up point. Incineration is the most effective way to treat and dispose of tissue biowaste. This should be done in a laboratory following proper guidelines and using the right equipment and protection.
Disposal of biohazardous wastes should only be done by people with proper training. When you’re exposed or come in direct contact with any biohazardous waste, immediately wash the affected area to flush out the agents and contact the nearest hospital facility for a medical examination as soon as possible.
For Michigan residents, regulatory authorities such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration should be alerted to conduct an inspection at the place of incident and ensure safety.