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How Do You Classify Solid Biomedical Waste?

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According to the 1988 Medical Waste Tracking Act, medical waste pertains to any solid waste produced through the treatment, immunization, or diagnosis of humans and animals. It may also refer to waste produced upon the research of such acts or the procedure of producing biological materials. Medical Waste can be categorized into four distinct types: general, infectious, hazardous, and radioactive.


  • General Waste

Also known as municipal solid waste, general waste is non-hazardous waste that you would normally find in your homes or offices. This may include unusable paper, plastics, and other possible household materials. As long as the waste is not considered infectious, hazardous, or radioactive, it belongs to this category.


  • Infectious Waste

This is waste that can spread infectious diseases. This type of waste will require cautious storage, treatment, and disposal. The items that may belong to this category include used scalpels, gloves, and bandages contaminated by blood or other bodily fluids. They may also include tissues from both humans and animals.


  • Hazardous Waste

Any waste that is not considered infectious but still poses a threat to both humans and animals can be put into this category. An example of hazardous waste may include drugs, chemicals, and sharp materials like needles and blades.


  • Radioactive Waste

This type of waste is generated from cancer therapies, nuclear medicine treatments, and radioactive isotopes equipment.


Other Classifications of Biomedical Waste

Additionally, the World Health Organization (WHO) classifies medical waste further into:


  • Radioactive
  • Pathological
  • Infectious
  • Sharps
  • Pharmaceutical waste
  • Others



The problem with medical waste is that it may belong to more than one category. For example, a scalpel may belong to hazardous waste, but it is also considered infectious waste if infected. The storage, treatment, and disposal of medical waste is truly a difficult challenge for the world.