Handling Radioactive Medical Waste

A closer look at radioactive medical waste in hospitals and medical facilities and how it should be stored and disposed of.

When you hear the term “radioactive medical waste,” you might picture someone in a protective suit handling chemicals. That’s how it’s usually portrayed in the movies after all. But radioactive waste can be found in many more places than just a laboratory.

In this post, we’ll look specifically at radioactive medical waste in hospitals and medical facilities and how it should be stored and disposed of.

Types of Radioactive Medical Waste

A designation is typically given to types of radioactive materials based on the amount of radioactivity they give off.  Low, intermediate and high-level wastes can include everything from paper and clothing to nuclear chemicals. Each must be handled in a specific manner to best protect people and the environment.

Much of the radioactive medical waste at healthcare facilities relates to the use of machines and therapies to treat cancers. The radioactive matter is usually used to shrink and treat tumors at the location site. The radioactivity can be stored in machines or injected using medical devices.


Different types of radioactive materials present more danger to humans and the environment than others. Some can be blocked or stopped from presenting harm to the body simply by separating it with a piece of cardboard, other types of radioactive waste can still cause harm even through a brick wall. Understanding the risks present at each medical facility is key.

Proper Disposal

Hospitals generate tons of hazardous waste on a given day. Much of it must be handled with care to prevent the spread of disease and to protect the public. Special procedures, storage vessels, and strict guidelines are in place for much of this waste. When it is radioactive, the most dangerous of waste, new rules apply. In some cases, waiting for a set period of time for the radioactivity to wear off or using a waste removal company to handle its proper disposal is required so that the waste is monitored and responsibly disposed of at approved locations.

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Radioactive Medical Waste

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