A look at Massachusetts medical waste requirements.

In the state of Massachusetts medical waste disposal is managed by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.

Massachusetts’ medical waste list includes, but is not limited to human parts, organs, tissues and body fluids, specimens, and discarded material saturated with body fluids other than urine.  Surprisingly, medical waste does not include teeth and bone without visible tissue.

All discarded cultures and stocks of infectious agents, including culture dishes, as well as discarded live and attenuated vaccines are considered hazardous medical waste.

Massachusetts has a lot of information on sharps waste, both for at-home use and for medical use.  Sharps must be segregated from other wastes and placed in a red, fluorescent orange, or orange-red leak-proof, rigid, puncture-resistant, shatterproof container that can resist breaking under normal conditions of use and handling.  For sharps waste in the home, the state prohibits the disposal of sharps in the regular trash; all sharps must be taken to a sharps collection kiosk or using an approved mail-back program.  Municipal facilities, such as fire stations, police stations, and public health offices can participate as a sharps collection site.  These should be only for the purpose of disposing of medically necessary hypodermic needles.

Specific to sharps, acceptable treatment prior to disposal includes incineration, followed by grinding to eliminate the physical hazard of the sharps and disposed of in a sanitary landfill approved by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.

For other medical waste, acceptable treatment options include steam disinfection or autoclaving, and chemical disinfection.

Every container or bag of waste, which has not been rendered noninfectious must be clearly marked with the international biohazard symbol and colored red to indicate that it contains waste.  Red bag waste must also be rigid, leak resistant, impervious to moisture, and sealed to prevent leaking during transportation.

In Massachusetts, waste generators must submit a copy of the state form, Notification of Hazardous Waste Activity in Massachusetts, to obtain an EPA ID number. Generators must also prepare manifests before shipping waste, which has not been rendered noninfectious off-site. The manifest is a tracking document designed to record the movement of waste from the generator through its trip with a transporter to an approved disposal facility and final disposal.

Overall, Massachusetts regulations follow federal rules when it comes to medical waste storage and disposal. In addition, the state is one of 26 states covered entirely by the federal OSHA program.

Many states share similar, if not completely the same medical waste disposal regulations if they follow federal regulations to the letter.  For more specific requirements, it is up to waste generators to check with their local governing offices to ensure compliance not only for legal reasons, but for environmental protection and infection control.

Learn how other states handle medical waste requirements.

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Massachusetts Medical Waste

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