Several types of waste generated in the typical clinical veterinary practice are considered regulated veterinary medical waste.

Hospitals, medical spas, healthcare facilities, and research laboratories are just a few of the facilities that produce hazardous waste, and while some like tattoo parlors may seem surprising, facilities like veterinary practices are anything but.

Of course, veterinary offices not just the places you visit to take care of your furry little friend.  These facilities go beyond what even normal healthcare facilities do; many practices are animal hospital laboratories which perform a myriad of medical tests, as well as a place for sick animals to stay.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines solid waste as “any garbage or refuse, sludge from a wastewater treatment plant, water supply treatment plant, or air pollution control facility and other discarded material, including solid, liquid, semi-solid, or contained gaseous material resulting from industrial, commercial, mining, and agricultural operations, and from community activities.”

While this is a broad definition of solid waste, there are several types of waste generated in the typical clinical veterinary medical practice that are considered regulated veterinary medical waste.  This includes discarded needles, syringes, and other sharps, as well as vaccines and vials that contained certain live or attenuated vaccines.  It also includes cultures and stocks of infectious agents and culture plates, research animals that were exposed to agents that are infectious to human beings and their associated waste, and other animal waste that is known to be potentially harmful to human beings.

In most states, medical waste generated from veterinary facilities is limited to sharps waste and animal carcasses, body parts, and bedding.

Just as it is with regular healthcare facilities, medical waste in veterinary settings must be handled with care.  It should be decontaminated prior to disposal, just as conventional medical waste.  In fact, the American Veterinary Medical Association requires that veterinary practices create plans that comply with federal, state, and local laws, and regulations.

Remember that states and some cities and counties have extra rules for waste disposal.  Many people are confused about the rules, especially when it comes to veterinary medical waste.  Don’t risk non-compliance.  Check with state and federal laws, and always work with a trusted medical waste disposal company to ensure compliance and safety.

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