Where does biohazard medical waste go and how should its disposal be handled?


If you work in the healthcare industry, you have most probably heard the term “biohazard medical waste disposal” before. Medical facilities like hospitals all generate waste that can be considered a biohazard. But where does it all go? How can you make sure that the handling of such hazardous medical waste does not endanger the safety of your patients and staff, not to mention the environment?

In Celitron’s following article, we will discuss the basics of treating biohazard medical waste, as well as how our own onsite disposal solution helps you make sure the waste goes to the right place!

What is biohazard medical waste and why is its correct disposal such an important issue?

Any medical waste that can be viewed as a threat to the environment or public health can be considered as biohazardous waste. The risks may come in the form of contamination (like in the case of blood and body fluids),  but also from materials that pose a risk through non-infectious ways, like certain chemicals and expired drugs.

Sharps are among the most dangerous type of biohazardous medical waste, and incidentally, also make up a sizeable portion of the volume of biomedical waste generated each year. Due to the nature of their use, they cannot be recycled, and are dangerous regardless of the risk of infection, since they can pierce and puncture the skin through regular trash bags as well. Improper disposal can at best lead to a serious fine, and at worst to life-threatening scenarios.

What do I need to know about biohazard medical waste containers, bags, and bins?

Before biohazardous medical waste can be transported away or processed, it needs to be stored in appropriate containers. Also known as “red bag waste”, this type of waste goes into puncture-proof and leak-proof containers marked with the well-known biohazard symbol. Some sharps containers may be yellow rather than red but will still be marked with a recognizable biohazard symbol.

Extra care must be exercised when handling and filling up these containers. It is important that they are stored in a well-separated area, and that they are never overfilled, to reduce risks of contact with biohazardous medical waste. These containers should always be emptied or loaded in an appropriate shedder when they are filled at about 75% of their capacity.

Where does biohazard medical waste usually go when it is disposed of?

The methods used for the disposal of biohazardous medical waste are closely regulated and monitored all over the world. Hazardous waste usually ends up being dumped at sanitary landfills, but they also need to be processed beforehand, and collected by a licensed waste removal company.

Even today, one of the most prominent methods for handling biohazard medical waste disposal remains incineration. Depending on the incinerator, this can occur offsite and onsite as well. Its benefits are clear, as it completely destroys the waste, but on the con side, it should be mentioned that they have relatively high operating costs, may pose a risk of air pollution, and are less practical than other modern methods like autoclaves.

Steam sterilization is more than a viable option for biohazard medical waste disposal. An autoclave uses steam that is well above 100 degrees to kill even heat-resistant bacteria. Their ease of use and reliability have made them increasingly popular in the healthcare industry. Still, some materials that are more difficult to handle (like sharps) also need to be rendered into an unrecognizable state to ensure compliance with the law and an effective treatment.

Other possible methods for handling biohazard waste disposal include irradiation, microwave treatments, and chemical disinfection.

Biohazard medical waste disposal with Celitron’s on-site medical waste shredder: how does it work?

The issue of where biohazard medical waste needs to go can be much easier to handle if you already have the right equipment to treat your waste onsite. Celitron has created a machine that combines the reliability and thoroughness of steam sterilization with the power of a medical waste shredder within a single vessel: this is the ISS (Integrated Sterilizer and Shredder).

The high-pressure and high-temperature steam produced by autoclaves alone is an extremely reliable way to ensure the waste loaded into the machine is sterile, but with the addition of powerful shredding blades, this allows the steam to penetrate the materials inside much more effectively. This is especially important in the case of biohazard materials that are required by the law to be rendered into an unrecognizable state, such as medical sharps. The ISS can also handle the disposal of full sharps containers, as well as other types biohazard medical waste such as anatomical waste, cytotoxic drugs, chemical waste, and pharmaceutical waste.

Why should I use Celitron’s ISS for biohazard medical waste disposal?

So where does all this biohazard medical waste go? In a nutshell, the ISS can render all these materials into a completely harmless, unrecognizable, sterile state that is depleted of all liquid components, and greatly reduced in volume. It can be disposed of like any other kind of regular municipal waste that otherwise does not present any immediate risk to human health.

Compared to incinerators, it also has lower operational costs, uses less energy, and does not pose any risk of air pollution. It is easy to install and incorporate into your biohazard medical waste management system and can handle the disposal of your waste under 35 minutes depending on the load inside the machine.

All in all, every medical facility needs to ask the question: where does biohazard medical waste go? Preparing your staff and facility for the handling of such hazardous waste is of the utmost importance if you want to avoid fines, and ensure general safety in your hospital, lab, or clinic. Fortunately, there are several methods and guidelines out there on how to handle this issue: if you need equipment that is both reliable and extremely practical, be sure to check out Celitron’s own solution for biohazard medical waste disposal!

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