What is Infectious Medical Waste?
The following information is referenced from the West Virginia
Medical Waste Rule, 64 CSR 56.
Infectious medical waste is medical waste which is capable of producing
an infectious disease. Medical waste shall be considered capable of producing an
infectious disease if it has been, or is likely to have been, contaminated by an
organism likely to be pathogenic to healthy humans, if such organism is not
routinely and freely available in the community, and such organism has a
significant probability of being present in sufficient quantities and with
sufficient virulence to transmit disease. Infectious medical waste includes the
Cultures and stock of microorganisms and biologicals;
Discarded cultures, stocks, specimens, vaccines and associated items likely
to have been contaminated by an infectious agent, discarded etiologic agents,
and wastes from the production of biologicals and antibiotics likely to have
been contaminated by an infectious agent.
Blood and blood products;
Liquid waste human blood and blood products in a free-flowing or unabsorbed
state. Note: All tubing with any visible blood, must be disposed of as
Human pathological wastes, including tissues, organs, body parts, and
containers of body fluids, exclusive of those fixed in formaldehyde or another
Discarded articles that may cause punctures or cuts and that have been used
in animal or human patient care or treatment, or in pharmacies or medical,
research or industrial laboratories, including, but not limited to, hypodermic
needles, syringes with attached needles, scalpel blades, lancets and broken
Animal carcasses, body parts, bedding and related wastes;
Contaminated animal carcasses, body parts, and bedding of animals that are
known to have been exposed to infectious agents during research, production of biologicals, testing of pharmaceuticals, or for any other reason.
Wastes generated from the care of a patient who
has or is suspected of having any disease listed as Class 4 in “Classification
of Etiologic Agents on the Basis of Hazard,” published by the United States
Centers for Disease Control.
Definition of Class 4: Agents that require the most stringent
conditions for their containment because they are extremely hazardous to
laboratory personnel or may cause serious epidemic disease. This class
includes Class 3 agents from outside the United States when they are employed in
entomological experiments or when other entomological experiments are conducted
in the same laboratory area.
Class 4 Viral Agents:
Monkey pox, Smallpox, and White pox.
fever viruses: Congo-Crimean, Ebola, Hantavirus, Junin,
Machupo, and Marburg viruses
simiae (Monkey B virus)
encephalitis viruses including: Central European encephalitis, Kyasanur
forest disease, Omsk hemorrhagic fever, and Russian spring-summer
equine encephalitis virus
Any residue or contaminated soil, water, or other debris resulting from the
cleanup of a spill of any infectious medical waste; and
Waste contaminated by or mixed with infectious medical waste.
What is Not Infectious Medical Waste?
As reported in the CDC’s Morbidity & Mortality Weekly
Report 36(2S); 12S, August 21, 1987:
“There is no epidemiological evidence to suggest that
most hospital waste is any more infective than residential waste.
Moreover, there is no epidemiological evidence that hospital waste has
caused disease in the community as a result of improper disposal.
Therefore, identifying wastes for which special precautions are
indicated is largely a matter of judgment about the relative risks of
disease transmission. The most practical approach to the
management of infective waste is to identify those wastes with the
potential for causing infection during handling and disposal and for
which some special precautions appear prudent. Hospital wastes for
which special precautions appear prudent include microbiology,
laboratory waste, pathology waste, and blood specimens or blood
products. While any item that has had contact with blood,
exudates, or secretions may be potentially infective, it is not usually
considered practical or necessary to treat all such wastes as
The WV Infectious Medical Waste Rule specifies that the
following items are not infectious medical waste:
Used personal hygiene products such as tissues,
diapers, and feminine products;
Gauze and dressing material containing small
amounts of blood or other body secretions with no free flowing or
Fixed pathological tissues; and
Medical tubing and devices that have not been
Hair, nails, and extracted teeth;
Human remains and body parts being used or examined for medical
purposes which are under the control of a licensed physician or
dentist and are not abandoned materials;
Human remains lawfully interred in a cemetery or in preparation by a
licensed mortician for interment or cremation;
Waste generated by veterinary hospitals, with some exceptions (see
Rule for more information).
Infectious medical waste contaminated with radioactive waste is
considered to be radioactive waste and is subject to State and federal
law and regulation as radioactive waste.
Infectious medical waste contaminated with hazardous chemical waste is
considered to be hazardous chemical waste and is subject to State and
federal law and regulation as hazardous chemical waste.