Key Methods of Medical Waste Treatment and Disposal
As a Maryland medical waste removal company, we frequently get questions from medical facilities about regulations and strategies regarding medical waste disposal. Many hospitals and laboratories have the resources to implement internal waste treatment processes to both reduce the volume of the medical waste in general and decontaminate certain infectious waste so that it can be disposed of as non-infectious. If you are in the process of evaluating the best options for your facility too, allow us to offer a quick overview of the main medical waste treatment and disposal methods.
On-Site Medical Waste Treatment
Thermal treatment is typically used for sharps and certain other types of infectious waste. An autoclave is in essence a large pressure cooker that uses high temperatures and steam to deeply penetrate all materials and kill any microorganisms. Depending on the type and amount of waste you will need to sterilize, you can purchase an appropriately-sized autoclave for your facility. These appliances range from 100 liters to 4,000+ liters in volume for bulk waste treatment.
Modern autoclaves are also automated to minimize human involvement and therefore reduce needle-stick injuries and contamination. Decontaminated sharps and other medical waste that's been autoclaved can then be handed over to your Maryland medical waste removal vendor to be disposed of as non-infectious waste. However, keep in mind that such medical wastes as chemical waste, including chemotherapy waste, as well as pharmaceutical waste can't be decontaminated in an autoclave.
Often used to deactivate liquid waste, chemical treatment is designed to decontaminate or deactivate certain wastes on site rather than packaging and sending them to a separate facility. Since liquids are highly susceptible to spills, it's typically best to have them treated as close to the generation site as possible. Chemical treatment can also be applied to some non-liquid infectious wastes, but they would typically need to be shredded first to ensure that all portions of the waste are exposed to the chemicals.
Depending on the type of waste, chemicals like chlorine, sodium hydroxide or calcium oxide can be used. However, these chemicals may often produce undesirable byproducts, as well as off-gas dangerous VOCs when applied. Chemical treatment has to be executed carefully and by knowledgeable staff. If you are not comfortable with on-site chemical treatment, an alternative is to use solidifying agents to turn liquids into solids and direct them to your medical waste removal vendor for disposal.
A microwave treatment system, similar to an autoclave, also uses heat to decontaminate medical waste. These systems work best for waste that is not 100% dry or solid, as the moisture allows the heat to penetrate deeper, and the steam sterilizes. Therefore, before microwaving, most types of medical waste need to be shredded and mixed with water to achieve the desired effect. The bonus is that shredding reduces the volume of the waste, so it can later be land-filled.
Off-Site Medical Waste Disposal
Incineration is typically used (and often required by the state) for pathological and pharmaceutical waste. Incineration of medical waste should be preformed in a controlled facility to ensure complete combustion and minimize any negative effects for the environment. The great thing about incineration is that it kills 99% of microorganisms and leaves very minimal waste, if any.
Land disposal is typically used for shredded, treated and decontaminated waste. In certain cases, it can also be used for hazardous waste or other untreated waste that can not be decontaminated by other means. Specialized sanitary landfill sites exit to reduce the risk of soil and water contamination and provide a safe space for medical waste disposal.
Of course, these are just the general medical waste treatment and disposal methods, and some types of waste may require specific disposal procedures we haven't listed here. If you have any questions or need help ensuring OSHA or EPA compliance, give us a call or contact online!
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“Our office has been utilizing the services of Biomedical Waste Services, Inc. (BWS) for well over a decade. Their caring, dedicated, and professional team have made it an absolute pleasure to do business with. They are always prompt and courteous in providing whatever service we ask of them. We highly recommend them for your practice!!”
Paul R Miller, D.D.S. and Team
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ZytoGen Patient Services
“My review from 2019: Still using BWS and still think they're great!
My review from 2016: We've been doing business with BWS for a few years now, and their service and pricing are great. We previously used a company who provides the same service in our area but overcharged us for years. I would definitely recommend BWS to anyone in the market for waste disposal at a great price with excellent service.”
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Akbar Masood, D.D.S.
“BWS has been handling our biohazardous waste disposal for three years. They have always been helpful and dependable. I recommend them to all who need biohazardous waste disposal services.”
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Tomicka Jackson-George, D.M.D.
“I've used BWS for several years now. Their service is great and their fees are very reasonable, making BWS a great value in hazardous waste removal.”
Louis Sachs, D.D.S.
“Professional and always on time! Great service!”
Kate Blair English
“Great option for healthcare waste management. BWS is an independent owned professional organization that is built on integrity and trust. There is no other company in the region that I'd recommend more. Most others say the right things the folks at BWS do the right thing. I'll continue to recommend them.”
We are a medical practice in a new location and needed hazardous waste removal services. We have been so pleased with the level of service and professionalism on both the admin and field work end of BWS services, and their pricing is fair and flexible. We would highly recommend them to any medical practice in need of these services.
Kerry Owens, Avalon Plastic Surgery
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