Chemotherapy generates some of the most hazardous waste in the medical field simply because these substances are highly toxic and corrosive. Chemotherapy wastes are characterized as a hazardous chemical waste by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and must be managed as biomedical waste.
There are several chemotherapy drugs that designate as RCRA hazardous waste, either as P- or U-listed hazardous wastes or as characteristic hazardous wastes. Facilities must manage chemotherapy (chemo) and hazardous drug waste separately from other waste streams such as biohazardous waste.
Some chemotherapy drugs include:
- Uracil mustard
- Mitomycin C
Of course, chemotherapy waste isn’t exclusive to just the drugs used for treatment. There is also waste that is known as “trace” chemotherapy waste, which includes items used by healthcare professionals to administer the drugs, such as:
- IV Bags
- P-Listed Chemotherapy agents
- Chemotherapy containers
- Gowns (that have been used during infusions)
- Any PPE or other materials used during infusions that are not visibly contaminated
Federal and state regulations and guidelines exist for the use, handling, storage, treatment, and disposal of chemotherapy drugs in clinical and research settings.
Staff must follow safety precautions when working with hazardous drugs, especially chemotherapy waste. These include use of exhausted enclosures, procedures to avoid personal exposure and contaminating surfaces, personal protective equipment (PPE), and training of personnel in hazard awareness and safe work practices. Just like all medical waste, there are specific requirements, safety procedures and compliance issues related to chemotherapy waste.
For clinics, treatments centers and other healthcare providers, it’s critical to maintain safe practices when providing chemotherapy to patients to ensure that any waste is disposed of properly.
Red Bags utilizes color-coded equipment to ensure that our clients stay in compliance. Through the use of special yellow bags and incineration only boxes, our clients can be confident that waste is properly segregated.