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Best Practices for Disposal of Medical Waste

  • • Inventory all waste generated by hospital operating and research departments as well as all other facilities generating hazardous medical waste and determine how this material is collected, stored, and put through proper disposal techniques.
  • • Clean up all waste spills immediately and remove all personal protective equipment, and gather up materials as well as cleaning equipment to a special contained area and place in hazardous waste containers. Where the cleaning equipment can be reused, it should be completely decontaminated before moving to another area.
  • • Determine if any of the material is treated and recycled and conduct appropriate tests to make sure that it does not constitute a hazard of any type.
  • • Do not put any hazardous waste into the sewage system unless it has been previously treated and it is no longer hazardous.
  • • The facility generating the hazardous chemical waste may use various treatment methods prior to release for disposal including: solidification or stabilization where free liquids in the wastes are eliminated; neutralization to raise or lower the pH to an acceptable level of between 6 and 9; carbon adsorption to bind the chemical contaminants to carbon which helps remove metals, organic solvents, other inorganic, and organic contaminants; separation through using a centrifuge or coagulation or flocculation; filtration to remove solids from liquids; and evaporation which reduces or removes water from the waste and decreases volume.
  • • Destroy all microorganisms before sending infectious waste to an incinerator. This can be accomplished by the use of a special steam sterilizer, chemical disinfection, irradiation, and gas/vapor sterilization on-site before the biohazardous material is released to the incineration facility.
  • • When the medical facility uses special private infectious waste haulers and disposal companies, all containers must be sealed, and all sharps must be placed in waterproof and piercing-proof containers which are sealed. All bags containing infectious medical waste must be double bagged in leak-proof material. It is essential that each of the disposal containers be labeled appropriately in order for all workers and others potentially exposed to the materials to be advised of the nature of the hazardous contents being transported. After use of the transport vehicle, the vehicle must be thoroughly cleaned and decontaminated by experienced professionals wearing appropriate personal protective equipment.

Low-Level Radioactive Waste

These wastes may be produced at nuclear power plants, in certain industries, in hospitals, and in research institutions.

Best Practices for Treatment of Low-Level Radioactive Waste (See endnote 107)

• Convert all low-level radioactive wastes to a solid and structurally stable mass before transportation to a disposal facility. Most of this waste is cardboard, paper, plastic, cloth, and glass.

  • • Shred and compact the waste for easier movement. Incineration may also be used. Contaminated equipment should go to appropriate disposal.
  • • Where short-lived low-level radioactive waste is involved, keep in special containers until the decay process eliminates the hazard.
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