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Are There Standards for Disposing of Medical Waste?

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According to the WHO (World Health Organization), out of all waste produced by healthcare endeavors, 85 percent are non-hazardous waste, and the 15 percent remaining are radioactive, toxic, or infectious. For that reason, there are standards to ensure the safe disposal of medical waste.

What Are State Regulations?

Almost all 50 states decreed the regulation of medical waste. However, state standards may differ. Some medical waste laws in some states follow the Medical Waste Tracking Act of 1988 (MWTA), while other regulations do not resemble historical laws.
In most regions, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for creating and enforcing healthcare waste disposal and management rules.
Most have regulations on packaging, storing, and transporting medical waste. Some states obligate medical facilities to get authorization for their medical waste.

What Are OSHA Regulations?

OSHA or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in the U.S., together with affiliate organizations, have a program to regulate medical waste. Their program includes managing sharps, requiring containers storing healthcare waste, container or bag labeling, as well as employee training.

Their program or standard is made to protect medical professionals from being at risk of bloodborne pathogens. Moreover, these also help to manage waste systematically to benefit the community and environment.

States with comprehensive regulations often trigger overlaps between OSHA and EPA standards or health rules, which happens when one sets general or vague rules and the other more specific.

For such cases, medical facilities must follow more specific or detailed regulations. In some states with no existing healthcare waste regulations, the OSHA standards fill the gap.
A lot of the medical waste produced by various healthcare facilities can pose significant health risks, which is why there are standards in place to ensure they are always correctly disposed of.