Submitted by: Morris Kim

Biohazardous waste refers to infectious waste or biomedical waste containing infectious material or potentially infectious substances, like blood. Of special importance are sharp items like needles, blades, and pipettes that can cause injury while handling. Such items must be disposed of as per a statutory disposal policy. This holds true even while handling household medical waste, although medical wastes generated at home are generally not considered to be of serious health concern.

Household Medical Waste

Even though most wastes generated at home are not of serious concern, we need to be bothered about household waste that is infectious or biohazardous in nature. Such wastes are capable of causing disease to house inmates, if a person comes into contact with the biohazardous waste. For example, sharps, if contaminated by infectious blood, can cause deadly diseases like HIV/AIDS or Hepatitis B that can be fatal for the infected person.

What is the best way to handle hazardous waste generated at home? Here are a few important tips.

* Household waste is a solid waste that must be disposed of in a permitted municipal solid waste landfill. If you are unable to do it on your own, a good way to ensure this is by seeking assistance of one of the recognized medical waste disposal services. Waste disposal services handle biohazardous waste in a safe and scientific manner.

* The recommended guidelines for packaging are placing the waste in an opaque, puncture-resistant, and leak-proof container, sealing it properly and ensuring that the outside of the container is free from contamination. However, care should be taken not to mark the package, divulging the contents.


Medical or biohazardous wastes generated at hospitals, however must be first rendered non-infectious by autoclaving, incineration, or by any other efficient means before disposing of to a solid waste area. Hospitals and clinics generate a large amount of waste that is potentially unsafe for public health, if not properly handled. Environmental requirements dictate that such wastes must be handled, segregated, mutilated, disinfected, properly packed, and transported before final disposal.

In fact, it is the responsibility of the waste generator whether a medical establishment or a household to dispose of the biohazardous waste in the above manner. All medical facilities must register with the Department of Environmental Protection at least 30 days prior to waste generation. The Department of Environmental Protection will assign a biomedical waste generator registration number to each facility. Thereafter, each facility must mandatorily prepare a biomedical waste management plan that is appropriate for its type and size. The plan must include all details of proper management of biohazardous waste.

Coming back to the issue of dangerous household wastes, some examples of the most common items in this category are:

* Insecticides, herbicides, and rat poison

* Paint thinners and strippers

* Household polishes

* Fungicides

* Cosmetics

* Grease and solvents

* Batteries

* Lighter fluids

* Medical wastes

Since it is impossible to regulate every house in the United States, the EPA developed a household exemption, under which waste generated by normal household activities is exempt from the definition of biohazardous waste

You can do your bit to reduce household hazardous waste by buying only the amount you need, by donating unused products to friends or community organizations, and by properly recycling leftover hazardous household products. Safe disposal of waste is the responsibility of every individual. After all, biohazardous waste can cause catastrophic environmental hazards.

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