Biomedical Waste

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Disposal procedures for biological or medical waste depend on the classification and type of waste generated. Biohazardous wastes include solids, liquid, sharps, outdated pharmaceuticals, pathological, and contaminated glass waste.

What is Biomedical Waste?

Biological waste is waste contaminated with potentially infectious agents or other materials deemed a danger to public health or the environment.  They can include:

  • petri dishes
  • culture tubes
  • syringes
  • needles
  • blood vials
  • absorbent material
  • personal protective equipment (PPE)

View the links below for a detailed definition of medical waste:

Segregation and Storage

Keep the following waste types properly segregated until pick-up by USC’s Hazmat team to avoid area contamination.

  1. Dry Biohazardous Waste

Dispose the following materials in a red biohazard bag placed in a bin or container with biohazard labels on each of three sides and the top of it:

  • Contaminated cultures, petri dishes, and culture flasks
  • Plastic pipet tips
  • Wastes from infectious agents, such as bacteria, viruses, or live or attenuated vaccine
  • Waste contaminated with excretion or secretion from infectious humans or animals
  • Paper Towels, KimWipes, bench papers contaminated biohazardous materials
  1. Sharps

Dispose the following materials in a sharps container:

  • Hypodermic needles
  • Pasteur pipettes
  • Blades, microscopic slides, dental wires
  • Any contaminated material which can puncture or penetrate the skin or a red bag
  • Intact or broken contaminated glass waste
  1. Liquid Waste

Dispose the following materials through the conventional sanitary sewage system if the materials are inactivated for 30 minutes with a freshly made 10:1 dilution of normal household bleach. Follow with plenty of water.

  • Human or animal blood
  • Human or macaque body fluids, or semi-liquid materials
  1. Pathological Waste

The following materials should be disposed of immediately after they are generated. Contact the Hazardous Material Division for a white pathological waste container and to make pick-up arrangements.

  • Organs, tissues, body parts, and fluids which have been removed by trauma, surgery, or medical procedures.
  • Human or animal tissues injected with a human pathogen or are potentially infectious.
  • Animal carcasses are to be treated according the USC Vivarium policies. Currently, animals injected with:
    • infectious disease agents, or viral vectors must be placed in a red biohazard bag then placed in the biohazard bucket within the freezer.
    • high hazard chemicals or toxins can be placed in a labeled Ziploc bag and placed into a chemical hazard bucket in the freezer.

Conventional mice untreated with hazardous substances must be placed in a paper bag and stored in the vivarium freezer.

  1. Outdated Pharmaceuticals

Used or expired pharmaceuticals are placed into specific HDPE containers supplied by USC’s Hazmat Division.

  • Chemotherapy – yellow body, white top
  • Pharmaceuticals (general, non-RCRA) – white body, blue top
  • Pharmaceuticals (RCRA) – black body, white top

Request containers via EHSA or