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Health & Safety Manual - Biological Safety

2.12 Regulated Medical Waste

2.12.1 Containers for Regulated Medical Waste Sharps Containers Red bags Cardboard and Styrofoam Boxes Tissues Fixed in a Hazardous Chemical Obtaining and Discarding Containers Downloadable Wall Chart summarizing Regulated  Medical Waste disposal streams in University Laboratories.

Regulated Medical Waste (RMW) Regulated Medical Waste (RMW) is material that may be contaminated with blood, bodily fluids, or other infectious materials, as well as sharps. RMW must be properly handled, collected, segregated, packaged, stored, labeled, transported and disposed of in order to minimize the risk of transmitting infection or endangering human health.
2.12.1 Containers for Regulated Medical Waste Sharps Containers are for disposal of items contaminated with infectious materials or recombinant DNA that may rip or poke a hole in a red plastic bag, including:

  • All hypodermic needles, suture needles, syringes, and scalpel blades, even if unused.
  • Pasteur pipettes (glass or plastic) blood vials, razor blades, serological pipettes (glass or plastic), slides, cover slips, and glass culture dishes and test tubes containing or that were in contact with cultures/stocks of microorganisms, or if they are unwrapped/unpackaged or appear as anything other than unused.
  • Devices and materials listed in the bullet above, may be placed in cardboard boxes (see below) if they are unused and in their original packaging.
  • Broken or unbroken glassware that were in contact with infectious agents, such as used slides and cover slips.

Go to Top Red bags are for items that are not expected to poke or tear the bag when it is lifted. This includes all of following if they are unwrapped/unpackaged or appear as anything other than unused: plastic test tubes, eppendorf tubes, plastic culture dishes, gloves, tissue culture flasks. In addition, the following materials belong in red bag disposal:

  • Cultures and stocks of infectious agents and associated biological materials, including cultures from medical and pathological laboratories, cultures and stocks of infectious agents from research and industrial laboratories, wastes from the production of biological materials, discarded live and attenuated vaccines, and culture dishes and devices used to transfer, inoculate, and mix cultures.
  • Human pathological wastes, including tissues, organs, and body parts and body fluids that removed during surgery or autopsy, or other medical procedures, and specimens of body fluids and their containers.
  • Liquid waste, human blood, products of human blood, items saturated and/or dripping with human blood, or items that were saturated and/or dripping with human blood that are now caked with dried human blood including serum, plasma, and other blood components, and their containers, which were used or intended for use in either patient care, testing and laboratory analysis or the development of pharmaceuticals. Intravenous bags are also included in this category.
  • Contaminated animal carcasses, body parts, and bedding of animals that were known to have been exposed to infectious agents during research (including research in veterinary hospitals), production of biologicals, or testing of pharmaceuticals.
  • Wastes from surgery or autopsy that were in contact with infectious agents including soiled dressings, sponges, drapes, lavage tubes, drainage sets, underpads and surgical gloves.
  • Laboratory wastes from medical, pathological, pharmaceutical, or other research, commercial, or industrial laboratories that were in contact with infectious agents, including disposable gloves, laboratory coats and aprons.
  • Dialysis wastes that were in contact with the blood of patients undergoing hemodialysis or renal dialysis, including contaminated disposable equipment and supplies such as tubing, filters, disposable sheets, towels, gloves, aprons, and laboratory coats.
  • Biological waste and discarded materials contaminated with blood, excretion, exudates, or secretion from humans who are isolated to protect others from certain highly communicable diseases, or isolated animals known to be infected with highly communicable diseases.

Go to Top Cardboard and Styrofoam Boxes - Cardboard boxes should be used for disposal of the following uncontaminated, breakable items: glass labware, wrapped pipettes, slides, petri dishes and cover slips in their original packages, staining dishes, etc.  These are not RMW. Styrofoam boxes may be returned by the lab to the manufacturer for recycling and/or reuse. Tissues Fixed in a Hazardous Chemical (e.g., formaldehyde, formalin). If tubes/jars containing small amounts of tissue are being discarded (e.g. mouse and rat organs), the liquid fixative must be decanted/strained off and treated as a hazardous waste. The tissue can be deposited into a red regulated medical waste bag. If jars containing large quantities of fixed tissue are being discarded (e.g. pig or human organs), please contact EH&S for a consultation. Animal carcasses that have been perfused and contain no free fixative should be returned to the ICM facility and do not need to be treated differently from unfixed carcasses. Obtaining and Discarding Containers - All laboratories are responsible for safely and securely packaging their Regulated Medical Waste in accordance with all applicable regulations and campus- or building-specific procedures.  RMW and sharps that are not packaged appropriately and left in the designated pickup areas will not be removed.  On the Medical Center Campus, Facilities Operations provides and removes red bags and sharps containers during weekly pick-ups.  Please contact Facilities (305-3753) for your building’s service schedule. At Morningside, containers may be requested via the online waste pickup request form.

A detailed classification scheme for Regulated Medical Waste can be found at the New York  Department of Environmental Conservation site,

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