New York State generally defines Regulated Medical Waste (RMW) as a waste that is infectious to humans. Infectious agents are further defined by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as pathogenic organisms that pose a moderate potential hazard to people and/or the environment. Many organisms have been categorized by the NIH as “Biosafety Level” 2, 3 and 4 organisms. The University has compiled a list of over 300 infectious agents (Biosafety 2, 3 and 4) in Appendix A of the Biological Safety Program. Please refer to the Biological Safety Program located on the EHSS website under Laboratory Safety as well as Biohazardous Waste located under Waste Management when managing biological waste. Regulated Medical Waste Categories
New York State lists five categories of RMW. The University has expanded upon the five categories and has defined two additional categories to include the Recombinant DNA and Select Agents per the NIH. Items that fall into one of the seven categories listed below shall be managed as R M W:
- Cultures and Stocks
- Human Pathological Waste
- Human Blood and Blood Products
- Animal Waste
- Recombinant DNA
- Select Agents
Culture and Stocks
Cultures and stocks refer to systems used to grow and maintain infectious agents in vitro. This category also includes preparations made from living organisms and their products that are used in diagnosing, immunizing, or treating human beings or animals. This category also includes culture dishes and devices used to transfer, inoculate, or mix cultures that have come in contact with high concentrations of infectious agents or the recovery of such agents in culture from clinical specimens. Cultures of Biosafety Level 2, or higher organisms, must be autoclaved according to the procedures listed in the Biological Safety Program, prior to disposal as RMW.
Human Pathological Wastes
This category of RMW includes human tissue, organs, and body parts, bodily fluids, specimens of bodily fluids, their containers, and discarded materials saturated with such bodily fluids, other than urine. This category does not include urine or fecal materials, unless they have come in contact with infectious diseases.
Human Blood and Blood Products
This category of RMW includes discarded human blood, discarded blood components, containers with free-flowing blood or blood components, and discarded saturated material containing free flowing blood or blood components. This also includes materials saturated with blood or blood products.
This category of RMW includes discarded sharps, such as hypodermic, intravenous, or other medical needles, hypodermic or intravenous syringes, Pasteur pipettes, and scalpel blades. Syringes which can be easily and safely removed from the needle do not need to disposed of as sharps waste, however if the syringe was in contact with an infectious it must be disposed of as RMW. Sharps waste also includes used and unused blood vials, and broken or unbroken glass which has come in contact with infectious substances including slides and cover slips. Broken glassware which was not in contact with an infectious substance may be placed into a puncture proof container and disposed in the regular trash.
This category of RMW is for discarded carcasses, body parts, body fluids, blood, or bedding originating from animals known to be contaminated with infectious agents, or from animals inoculated with infectious agents during research. It is important to note that exposure to a known infectious agent is necessary before the animal waste should be considered RMW. Preserved animals, used for educational purposes, are not typically RMW. These animals should be reviewed to ensure there is not a presence of a fixative, such as formalin, which may be a hazardous waste.
Recombinant DNA Molecules
This category od RMW includes molecules that are constructed outside living cells by joining natural or synthetic DNA segments to DNA molecules that can replicate in a living cell, and include the subsequent molecules formed through the replication process. All waste that contains, or is potentially contaminated with recombinant molecules, from recombinant DNA experiments that involve whole plants, whole animals, or Biosafety Level 2, or higher organisms, must be autoclaved according to the procedures listed in the Biological Safety Program, prior to disposal as RMW.
This category of RMW includes all “Select Agents” as defined by the United Sates Department of Agriculture and the Centers for Disease Control. All waste that contains, or is potentially contaminated with a “Select Agent”, must be autoclaved according to the procedures listed in the Biological Safety Program, prior to disposal as RMW.
If a waste does not meet any of the above definitions, it should not be considered a RMW. Do not dispose of paper, packing products, dishes, animal carcasses, or other items as RMW if they were not contaminated or potentially contaminated with infectious material. It is important to accurately categorize all waste, making sure it is disposed of in the most appropriate manner. If you need assistance determining what materials meet the definition of RMW, please contact EHSS at x-4132.
Regulated Medical Waste Disposal Procedures
- Purchase and maintain appropriate sharps containers for collection of waste sharps prior to using sharps.
- Only dispose of sharps in a sharps container.
- Once the sharps container contents reach the full line or the container is 3/4 full , contact EHSS to request a pick up.
Preserved Specimens (Vegetable, and Animal Parts, Vertebrate or Invertebrate):
- If the specimens are in a solution, call EHSS for assistance in pouring off the liquid.
- The solution must be handled as potential hazardous waste and must be labeled as a hazardous waste, to identify components.
- Double-bag the specimens in red plastic bags (provided by EHSS), pack in cardboard medical waste boxes (provided by EHSS), and store in a cooler or freezer. Use absorbent, if necessary, for wet wastes.
Other Regulated Medical Waste Items:
- Double-bag the items in red plastic bags (provided by EHSS), pack in cardboard medical waste boxes (provided by EHSS), and store in a cooler or freezer as needed.
- If the waste contains infectious liquids (such as blood or agar) which may leak, use universal absorbent or heavy plastic bags within the red bags as appropriate.
- Call the EHSS Biosafety Officer (x-2447) with questions on identification of RMW, handling, or storage.
- Call EHSS to request a RMW pick up (x-4132).
- Provide all the information needed to schedule the waste pick up:
- Generator’s name and phone number;
- Location of waste;
- Description of the RMW;
- Quantity (Do Not Exceed the 50 Lbs. Weight Limit Per Box).
- The generator must sign the waste tag at pick up.
Sharps containers and Broken Glass containers must be purchased by the generator through Syracuse University Materials Distribution.