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Administration: Office of Environmental Health & Safety

Regulated Medical Waste Procedures

Starting in the late 1980s, Regulated Medical Waste (RMW) management and disposal was heavily regulated and was defined as anything that “looked medical” or “looked as though it came from a laboratory”, whether or not it was actually infectious (= capable of causing illness).There were severe penalties for improper RMW management and disposal. Over the past 2 decades RMW procedures have evolved greatly, although lab personnel often still follow the old, rescinded rules. When making an RMW waste determination, except where noted below, please apply this determination to infectious materials only!

All solid and semisolid cultures and stocks containing infectious agents(Biosafety Levels II – IV (pdf)) such as nutrient agars, gels, broths (including those utilizing human blood or blood products or other infectious agents are collected in red biohazard bags (double bag if necessary) and placed in a gray plastic Regulated Medical Waste (RMW) container. Liquid cultures and stocks of infectious agents must be collected in leak proof plastic containers (available from EH&S x8978).

Sharps (razor blades, scalpel blades, lancets, needles), whether or not they were used with infectious materials, present a significant hazard to worker health and safety as they are specifically designed to cut or puncture skin.  Sharps used with human blood and/or other potentially infectious materials (OPIM) present significant worker risk of exposure to human pathogens. This waste stream may receive special handling/decontamination (if it contains infectious agents) prior to disposal.

Collect sharps in puncture resistant, leakproof plastic sharps containers, available in Davis 030 (you may also contact EH&S for sharps containers, x8978). With your Chair’s permission, you may obtain a key to Davis 030 through Public Safety.

Do not fill sharps containers completely. Leave approximately 5 cm clear space at the top. To dispose, drop off full sharps collection con­tainers to Davis 030. Custodians will not remove sharps containers from labs or hallways.

Other sharp (i.e. capable of breaking the skin) items: if contaminated with infectious agents, broken and unbroken glass, pipets (glass or plastic), culture dishes (glass or plastic), cover slips, microscope slides must be collected in a gray plastic RMW container lined with a red RMW bag. These containers are available from Davis 030.

Other sharp items can cause injury (cuts/punctures) even if they are notcontaminated with infectious agents and must be disposed of properly. Such materials are disposed of as ordinary glass waste, collected in glass disposal boxes (available from Grainger). When full, close lid, tape box closed and contact Buildings & Grounds (x8180) for pickup.

Gloves, bench liners, other types of labware, microfuge tubes, etc. that is contaminated with infectious agents are collected in gray plastic RMW bins lined with a red plastic RMW bag. Containers must be kept closed, except when adding materials to the bin.
Uncontaminated gloves, labware, etc. is disposed of as ordinary trash.

Animal carcasses: collect (untreated) animal carcasses in red RMW bags and place in freezer in Davis 030. Animal carcasses and tissues treated with preservative chemicals are collected in gray plastic RMW bins lined with red plastic RMW bags.