Defining and managing biohazardous waste in research-based universities in the United States : a survey of environmental health and safety professionals Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/9s1618379

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  • Biohazardous waste refers to wastes that are potentially infectious to humans, as well as wastes from animal or plant research that could be potentially infectious to these organisms, or could alter their genetic selection process. Research resulting in generation of biohazardous waste is typically conducted at large, research-based universities. The purpose of this study was to examine how 122 universities manage their biohazardous waste through a survey of environmental health and safety professionals responsible for waste management at these institutions. Based on the data collected from this survey (82.6% response rate), university biohazardous waste policies are heavily influenced by state environmental regulations, the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens Standard, and CDC/NIH biosafety guidelines. Biosafety or hazardous materials professionals are the individuals most likely to be responsible for program administration. Contaminated wastes, both sharps and non-sharps, are almost exclusively treated as biohazardous waste by these institutions if they are a potential infection risk to humans. They are also likely to be treated as biohazardous waste if they are an infection risk for animals but less likely to be treated in this manner if they are a potential infection risk for plants. Over 70% of the universities indicated that they are using a licensed medical waste hauler for some portion of their waste. Even so, 90% of universities use sterilization by autoclave for waste treatment, yet only 52% of those users indicated validation of the process using a biological indicator. Forty-two percent of respondents currently use incineration for waste treatment. Of those incinerators, roughly half (22 of 42) are HMIWI's. Ten of the twenty-two HMIWI's will continue to operate under EPA's revised regulations for these processes. To assure compliance with institutional policies, most universities require segregation and packaging of waste, training for waste generators, and inspections of waste generating areas. Biohazardous waste definition and management in large universities is variable, and is the likely result of the diversity of activities that contribute to waste generation as well as state-specific environmental requirements in addition to other regulatory and guideline issues that need to be addressed in a comprehensive management program.
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