Biohazardous Waste Disposal

  • Research Safety & Services
  • Occupational Safety & Risk Management
  • Facility Support Services
  • Biological waste is any solid or liquid waste that may present a threat of infection to humans, animals, crops or the natural ecosystem.  All items that contain, or are contaminated with any of the following, must be disposed of as biological waste:

    • Human, animal, or plant pathogens
    • Recombinant or synthetic nucleic acids and recombinant organisms
    • Laboratory and clinical waste containing or contaminated with, blood, blood products, tissues and cells from humans or nonhuman primates and other potentially infectious material as described in the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogen standard.
    • Cultures (tissues, cells, bacteria, viruses, etc.)

    All biological waste must be inactivated prior to leaving the facility. The preferred method is steam sterilization (autoclaving) although chemical inactivation of liquid waste (i.e. treatment with household bleach) may be appropriate in some cases.

    Biomedical waste is a specific subset of biological waste which refers to any solid or liquid waste, including discarded medical sharps, that may pose a threat of infection to humans.  Biomedical waste must be handled per the State of Florida Department of Health regulations (Chapter 64E-16, Florida Administrative Code).

    Storage of biomedical waste is restricted to within the generating laboratory and is limited to 30 days. The 30 day period starts when the first non-sharps waste item is placed into a red bag or sharps container, or when a sharps container containing only sharps is sealed.

    Solid Biomedical Waste
    All solid biomedical waste must be stored in a leak-proof, covered container lined with a red autoclave bag.  This waste must be autoclaved prior to placing it in the red bag lined biomedical waste box.   Best practice is to autoclave this waste at the end of each work day but at a minimum, it must be autoclaved at the end of each week.  Autoclave bags must be labeled with the date put in use, PI name, location (room/building) and telephone number.

    Inactivated waste must be placed inside a red bag lined biomedical waste fiberboard box.  The red bag lining the biomedical waste box must be printed with a certification stamp indicating that the bag meets the ASTM D 1922 and ASTM D 1709 standards for tear and impact resistance.  Liner bags that meet this requirement are as follows:

    1. 2 mil thick Fisherbrand Dual Tested Autoclave Biohazard bags (catalog #14-828-248, 37 x 48 in). Bags can be autoclaved.
    2. 2 mil thick autoclave bags that fit the 30 gallon biomedical waste box may be purchased from VWR (catalog #14220-098, 38 x 48 in). Bags can be autoclaved.
    3. 1 mil thick liner bags are provided free of cost with each box by Stericycle. These bags cannot be autoclaved!  Bags are distributed by HSC custodians or will be left with the boxes by the Stericycle driver in buildings that have their own pick-up and box delivery.

    Labs are responsible for purchasing red autoclave bags – only liner bags will be available from Stericycle.

    Note: for successful autoclaving, the bag must be closed yet vented so that steam can enter the bag.

    Each bag, including the liner bag, must be securely closed before sealing the biomedical waste box.  Per Federal Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations, “The bag must be capable of being held in an inverted position with the closed end at the bottom for a period of 5 minutes without leakage.” Please see the handout for the proper way to close the bag.

    Sturdy, pre-printed cardboard biomedical waste boxes displaying the biohazard symbol are used as the terminal receptacle in most locations on campus.  Biomedical waste boxes are available from Building Services custodians in the Health Science Center (HSC) and are left by the Stericycle driver in buildings that have their own pick-up and box delivery.  Boxes may also be picked up at the Health Science Center Storeroom (Room AG129) – call 294-5500 to arrange to pick them up.

    Tape all seams in an “H” pattern using clear tape.  Do not overfill the boxes – the maximum weight is 55 lbs.  Label all boxes with the date, PI name, location (room/building), and phone number.  In HSC buildings, place the closed and labeled biomedical waste boxes in the hall for pick-up by HSC custodians.  In other locations, take the box to the established holding room for pick-up by Stericycle.  Only properly packaged and labeled boxes will be accepted for transport.

    Liquid Biological and Biomedical Waste
    Liquid biological and biomedical waste shall be inactivated by autoclaving or bleach treatment and then flushed down the drain with copious amounts of water.  For bleach treatment, add at least 1 part concentrated (8.25%) bleach to 13 parts liquid and mix well.  Let the solution sit for a minimum of 30 minutes and then pour it down the drain.  Do not autoclave liquid waste that contains bleach as toxic chlorine gas may be generated and bleach is also corrosive to the autoclave parts.

    Other EPA-registered tuberculocidal disinfectants may be used to inactivate liquid waste provided the manufacturer’s instructions for concentration and contact time are followed.  Many of these disinfectants contain hazardous chemicals and cannot be poured down the drain.  Once the biological component is inactivated, this type of waste must be picked up by Hazardous Waste.

    Do not put liquid waste into red bags!

    Sharps
    All medical sharps (e.g. metal lancets, scalpel blades, needles or syringe/needle combinations) must be disposed of in red, plastic sharps containers even if they are unused or not biologically contaminated.  Sharps containers that contain only sharp items shall be closed when they are ¾ full and discarded in the red bag lined biomedical waste box within 30 days after closure.  Containers must be labeled with the date, PI name, location (room/building) and telephone number prior to disposal.  If the sharps are biologically-contaminated, the container must be autoclaved.  Closed and labeled sharps containers are disposed of in the red bag lined biomedical waste box.

    Other sharp items that can cut or puncture the skin or the red bag (e.g. fragile glass, glass slides and cover slips, razor blades, pipets and pipet tips) shall be disposed of in a manner that prevents harm.  These items may be placed in a sharps container but other alternatives, such as placing the items in small rigid boxes or hard sided plastic containers, are detailed in the handout.

    Non-sharp items (i.e. wrappers, paper towels, Kimwipes, plastic tubes) shall not be placed in sharps containers as they quickly overfill the container and may cause sharps to protrude out of the top of the container.  If a sharps container contains any of these types of non-sharp items, it must be dated when the first non-sharps item is placed inside and disposed of within 30 days under State of Florida Department of Health regulations.

    Mixed Radioactive/Biological Waste

    Radioactive waste must be segregated, stored, labeled, and handled per the requirements of the   The biological component of mixed radioactive/biological waste must be inactivated by treating with 1N NaOH for 1 hour at 20°C prior to turning it over to Hazardous Materials Management.

    Mixed Chemical/Biological Waste
    The biological component of mixed chemical/biological waste must be inactivated prior to turning it over to Hazardous Materials Management.  Precautions must be taken to prevent the generation and release of toxic chemicals during the inactivation process.   In general, autoclaving is not recommended for this type of waste.  Note that in most cases the chemical component of the waste will have inactivated the biological component (as in the case of fixative solutions).  Please contact Hazardous Materials Management (392-8400) for additional guidance.  Chemical waste must be segregated, stored, labeled and handled per the requirements outlined in the Laboratory Chemical Waste Management section of the EH&S website.
    Human Remains/Tissues
    Human remains/tissues shall be returned to the source from which you received them.  If that is not possible, contact the Biosafety Office (392-1591) for further guidance.
    Animal Carcasses/Tissues
    The disposal of animal carcasses and other animal materials and tissue must be through Animal Care Services or Veterinary Medicine disposal devices only. These devices are for animal materials only. Please contact Animal Care Services (273‐9230) or Veterinary Medicine Necropsy (294-4528) for further information.

    Material obtained from the Animal Science slaughter facility may be returned there for disposal if not contaminated with infectious, potentially infectious, or recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid material.

    No animal carcasses or tissue pieces shall be disposed of as regular trash or through the biomedical waste box. Animal carcasses and other animal material that may contain infectious animal or human pathogens requires containment (red bags, sealed containers labeled with the biohazard symbol) before moving to Animal Care Services or the Veterinary Medicine disposal facilities.

    Biological Waste Transport

    Biological waste being transported outside of the laboratory (e.g. to an autoclave) must be in a closed, leak-proof bag or container; bags must be contained in a leak-proof tray and transported on a cart to and from the autoclave.  Do not leave non-inactivated waste unattended.  Laboratory staff needing to transport properly packaged and labeled biowaste boxes to a secure holding/pick-up area must protect the boxes from the weather and not leave the boxes unattended.  For those laboratories that do not have an established routine pick-up or an established secure storage/pick-up area in the facility, the following is required for transporting boxed biowaste to the loading dock of the Health Science Center for disposal:

    • You must use a state vehicle for transport; personal vehicles are not allowed.
    • You must move less than 25 lbs. at one time.
    • The locked silver semi-trailer at the loading dock of the Health Science Center is the disposal site.
    • Call Building Services at 294-5500 to arrange to meet someone with the keys.
    • Leave a voice mail message if need be and someone will return your call.
    • Be prepared to show your photo ID.

    Biological/Biomedical Waste Training

    All employees who generate biological/biomedical waste must be trained regarding the proper segregation, handling, packaging, labeling, storage and treatment of biological waste.  Training is required prior to commencement of duties related to biological waste handling and annually thereafter.  All individuals enrolled in the UF Bloodborne Pathogen (BBP) Program receive this training.  For those individuals who are not in the BBP Program, standalone Biomedical Waste training is available online through myTraining.  You can search for the class by using the course code (EHS851).

    In accordance with Florida Statute (Ch. 64E-16 F.A.C.), training records for each employee shall be maintained for a period of three (3) years.  Training records are kept indefinitely for those who are trained through myTraining.  If you hold an instructor-led session, you must keep the training records for a minimum of 3 years.

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