Biohazardous Waste


Laboratory personnel and principal investigators (PIs) are responsible for identifying, packaging and properly decontaminating biohazardous waste, including all recombinant or synthetic DNA/RNA waste, before disposal. Procedures to identify, package, transport and decontaminate biohazardous waste are detailed below. For site-specific information, see Biohazardous Waste Flow Charts.

    What is biohazardous waste?

    The following materials are defined as biohazardous or biomedical waste:

    • Sharps waste
    • Human and nonhuman primate blood, tissue, body fluids and cell lines
    • Cultures or stocks of pathogenic agents, including bacteria, rickettsia, fungi, viruses, protozoa, parasites, prions and select agents
    • Recombinant or synthetic nucleic acids (recDNA), including waste products from procedures involving plasmids, viral vectors, E.coli, yeasts and naked nucleic acids
    • Laboratory waste items (i.e., used PPE, culture dishes, tubes) that have come into contact with a biohazard
    • Animal waste, carcasses and body parts that have been exposed to recDNA or any biohazard
    • Human pathological waste
    • Plant waste, including all transgenic plants, seeds, spores, plant debris and soil materials, and any plants exposed to plant pathogens

    Package Biohazardous Waste

    Transport Biohazardous Waste

    Decontaminate Biohazardous Waste

    Site-specific information

    Refer to Biohazardous Waste Flow Charts for site-specific information.

    What you can do to stay safe

    • Be familiar with the different types of biohazardous waste and their packaging and disposal methods.
    • Plan for disposal before generating biohazardous waste.
    • Follow all of the autoclave safety and monitoring requirements and provide training to all autoclave operators.
    • Follow the biohazard transport policy when transporting biohazardous waste.

    Services available

    EH&S biosafety officers can assist with training, consultation and help with any biosafety questions. If you plan to generate mixed waste (i.e., biohazardous and radioactive), please contact EH&S first.

    Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

    Yes. Because recombinant or synthetic DNA/RNA is considered a biohazard, those tips do need to be autoclaved. Also, if your lab does any biohazardous work, it is easier to treat all pipets and tips as biohazardous so that you do not have to make a decision for each tip; instead, they all go as biohazardous waste.

    EH&S does not collect or treat sharps or other biohazardous waste. EH&S provides consultation and training for on-site or off-site treatment of sharps and biohazardous waste prior to disposal. Check with your department to see if a sharps disposal waste stream already exists.

    If the extracted teeth are not intended for interment or cremation, treat and dispose of them as human pathological waste. Human pathological waste is shipped for off-site incineration via a contracted carrier. Refer to “Off-Site Sterilization” in the Decontaminate Biohazardous Waste section above. If the extracted teeth contain amalgam, contact EH&S Chemical Waste for pick-up and disposal.

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