A look at North Carolina medical waste requirements.

North Carolina medical waste disposal regulations are managed by the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources Division of Waste Management, and it oversees the packaging, storage, transportation, treatment, and disposal of medical waste.

According to the state’s DEQ, medical waste and regulated medical waste, while managed under the same laws, have different definitions; medical waste means any solid waste which is generated in the diagnosis, treatment, or immunization of human beings or animals, whereas regulated medical waste refers to blood and body fluids in individual containers in volumes greater than 20 ml, microbiological waste, and pathological waste that have not been treated.

The state says that “most” medical waste can be handled as general solid waste unless it’s regulated medical waste.  For the latter, waste can be treated on site or sent to a medical waste treatment facility.

Perhaps the most interesting, even if a bit concerning regulation is how North Carolina handles sharps waste; the rules do not require the treatment of sharps before disposal.  However, sharps waste must be packaged in a container that is rigid, leak-proof, and puncture resistant.  Once packaged, it can be disposed of with regular solid waste.

If medical waste is to be treated on site, there are no special storage requirements, however medical waste that is to be treated off site must be packaged in a plastic bag in a rigid box that is leak-proof.  All packages must labeled with a biohazard symbol,the words “INFECTIOUS WASTE” or “MEDICAL WASTE,” the date of shipment, and the name, address, and phone number of the generator.  Generators must also identify the transporter, storage facility, and treatment facility on the package.

North Carolina does not require generators to maintain manifests, nor does it require “cradle to grave” tracking of medical waste.

There are some exceptions to medical waste regulations in the state of North Carolina; items such as dressings, bandages, gloves, and tubing are not included in the definition of regulated medical waste and may be disposed without treatment.

The state of North Carolina doesn’t have as many permit requirements for transporters, nor does it have as strict of disposal methods and treatments of certain medical waste compared to other states.  While North Carolina’s sharps practices and handling of medical waste versus regulated medical waste seem a bit surprising, the state emphasizes and requires generators to correctly identify and segregate all regulated medical waste for cost reduction and compliance.  

Learn how other states handle medical waste requirements.

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North Carolina Medical Waste

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