Regulated Medical Waste Management

Principal investigators (PIs), Laboratory Safety Officers (LSOs), and laboratory personnel are responsible for properly identifying and decontaminating regulated medical waste, including potentially infectious material and recombinant DNA (rDNA) or synthetic Nucleic Acid (sNA) waste, before disposal. Procedures to identify, package, and transport biohazardous waste are provided below. Refer to the poster guidance, Cell/Tissue Culture Waste Disposal Guide for Laboratories, for additional guidance.

Solid waste potentially contaminated with infectious agents or rDNA/sNA designated for BSL2 (or higher) containment require decontamination before disposal. Decontamination of solid waste can be achieved either via chemical disinfection or steam sterilization (i.e., autoclaving).

Due to regulatory requirements, biological waste must be managed as Regulated Medical Waste (RMW), which includes biohazardous waste decontaminated by laboratory staff. RMW can only be disposed of as regular trash after it has undergone treatment at a licensed facility. Stericycle is the approved Mount Sinai vendor for the compliant collection, transportation, treatment and disposal of biohazardous wastes. Our institutional policy requires decontamination for specific material before disposal in order to mitigate potential hazards when it handled by Building Services and transported offsite. It also to meet best practices, standards, and regulations related to biosafety and transportation safety.

If you have access to an autoclave and have completed the CITI training course, Autoclave Safety Training, then you can decontaminate and dispose of biohazardous waste yourself. Steam sterilization with an autoclave effectively inactivates infections microorganisms. All research and clinical laboratories must comply with New York State regulations that apply to the maintenance and use of steam autoclaves that are used to decontaminate biohazardous waste.

Regulated Medical Waste

Mount Sinai considers the following biohazardous waste materials as Regulated Medical Waste (RMW):

  • Sharps waste (e.g., needles, syringes, broken glassware)
  • Human and nonhuman primate blood, tissue, body fluids and cell lines
  • Cultures or stocks of biohazardous agents (e.g., bacteria, rickettsia, fungi, viruses, protozoa, parasites, and prions)
  • Recombinant DNA (rDNA) or synthetic Nucleic Acids (sNA), which includes waste products from laboratory procedures involving plasmids, viral vectors, Escherichia coli (E. coli), yeasts and naked nucleic acids.
  • Laboratory waste items that are potentially infectious materials (i.e., used PPE, culture dishes, tubes, etc., that have come into contact with a biohazard)
  • Laboratory animal waste (e.g. bedding, carcasses, and body parts) that have been exposed to rDNA or any biohazardous agent
  • Human pathological waste

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation defines Regulated Medical Waste (RMW) as material generated in biomedical research, production and testing of biologicals or health care, including:

  • Infectious animal waste
  • Human pathological waste
  • Human blood and blood products
  • Needles and syringes (sharps)
  • Cultures and stocks (microbiological materials)
  • Other infectious waste (e.g. materials contaminated with infectious agents such as the Hemorrhagic Fever viruses

Disposal of Solid Biohazardous Waste

  • Collect solid biohazardous waste in autoclave-safe biohazard waste bags. Biohazardous waste that is known to be infectious should be double-bagged with autoclave-safe biohazard waste bags
  • Add water to the autoclave-safe biohazard waste bags before closure
  • Loosely tie the autoclave-safe biohazard waste bags before autoclaving to allow steam to escape
  • Secure the bag inside a rigid, leak-proof container (e.g., Low-density polyethylene (LDPE) or stainless steel tray) that allows the bag’s biohazard symbol to be visible

Disposal of Intact Glass and Plastic Waste

  • Collect glass and plastic waste in a puncture-resistant container (e.g., Stericycle red sharps bin or a sturdy cardboard box lined with a red Regulated Medical Waste bag)
  • Laboratory waste items that are potentially contaminated with infectious materials or recombinant/synthetic nucleic acid molecules designated for BS2 containment should be decontaminated prior to disposal (e.g. by steam autoclave sterilization)

Disposal of Biohazardous Sharps Waste

Collect sharps (e.g., broken glassware or pipet tips) in a puncture-resistant container (e.g., Stericycle red sharps container)
Do not mix with any other type of waste

Liquid Biohazardous Waste Disposal

  • Liquid biohazardous waste must be decontaminated before disposal down the laboratory sink into the sanitary sewer system
  • Collect liquid biohazardous waste in leak-proof, rigid containers labeled with a biohazard symbol
  • Liquid biohazardous waste must be decontaminated with a chemical disinfectant following manufacturer’s instructions or by steam autoclave sterilization
  • Sodium hypochlorite is generally the standard chemical disinfectant for tissue culture waste disposal since is acceptable for drain disposal. If another chemical disinfectant are used, then the chemical disinfectant would need to be evaluated by EnvH&S to determine if it is acceptable for drain disposal per EPA regulations and/or other local and state standards for sewage discharge (e.g. NYC DEP)
  • If sodium hypochlorite (i.e., bleach) is used as a disinfectant, then add hypochlorite solution to equal a final concentration of 10 percent. Allow an 8-hour contact time before disposal down the laboratory sink.

Human Clinical Pathology Waste and Nonhuman Primate Carcasses

Incineration is required for human clinical pathology waste and nonhuman primate carcasses. Make disposal arrangements before obtaining human or nonhuman primate pathological samples. Do not dispose of clinical pathology waste with other biohazardous wastes.

Laboratory Animal Waste

Incineration is required for recognizable tissue, body parts, and carcasses from vertebrate laboratory animals. The Center for Comparative Medicine and Surgery (CCMS) oversees the disposal of these types of laboratory animal wastes.

Transporting Biohazardous Waste

If transporting biohazardous waste from the point of collection to a centralized decontamination center, then secure the biohazardous waste in leak-proof secondary containers, which should be marked with the universal biohazard symbol.

Regulated Medical Waste Disposal

All Regulated Medical Waste must be discarded into Stericycle red bins or bagged in red Regulated Medical Waste bags that are preprinted with the Mount Sinai institutional address (see Figure 1). To request pickup of Regulated Medical Waste or request a supply of red Regulated Medical Waste bags, send an E-mail to Building Services. Your E-mail should indicate:

  • Name of the person responsible for the RMW,
  • The location (building and room number),
  • Amount of RMW to be picked up, and/or
  • Amount of red RMW bags needed.

Biohazardous/Sharps Waste Containers

To add additional Sharps Containers to an existing location, please contact Joseph G. Marinello and Jhonier Hernandez, who will create an order for delivery of additional red biohazardous waste containers. Please allow 7 to 14 days for delivery depending on the quantity of containers requested.

To add on a new laboratory or location that does not have sharp containers, please contact Joseph G. Marinello and Reshma Smith and provide the following information:

  • Name of the Lab
  • Building Name
  • Floor
  • Laboratory Room number and Name of Room (Tissue Culture, Micro etc.)
  • Size of sharp container (8-gallon or 17-gallon) requested and quantity needed for each size.

If your laboratory will move to a new location on campus, then please contact Joseph G. Marinello and Reshma Smith, who will modify your existing account to reflect the change in location.