Sharps and Biological Waste Disposal

Marine Biological Laboratory
Policy No. B.1.3


Initiated by: Environmental Health and Safety Manager
Approved by: Director/CEO
Date: October 19, 1989
Revision: #4, September 24, 2008
Distribution: MBL website

1.0 Policy Statement:
Department of Public Health regulation 105 CMR 480.000 covers the “Storage and Disposal of Infectious or Physically Dangerous Medical or Biological Waste” in Massachusetts. It is the policy of the MBL to comply with applicable portions of this regulation and to take prudent measures to protect the public and members of the MBL community from any risks associated with the disposal of laboratory wastes. Public concerns about these wastes are high and we must ensure that our disposal practices are both legal and responsible.

2.0 Application
This policy applies to everyone who generates infectious or physically dangerous wastes in MBL facilities. It does not cover the disposal of chemicals, biogenic toxins, pharmaceutical products or other hazardous materials. Information on the disposal of these materials is available from the MBL Environmental Health and Safety Office.

3.0 Sharps/Glassware

3.1 Sharps are defined as “Discarded medical articles that may cause punctures or cuts, including but not limited to all used and discarded hypodermic needles and syringes, pasteur pipettes, broken medical glassware, scalpel blades, disposable razors, and suture needles.”

3.1.1 Regulated sharps and other waste items which pose a significant risk of injury during waste handling must be accumulated in well labeled, rigid, puncture-resistant containers. Generators are responsible for contacting the Safety Department at (x7424) or (x7192).
3.1.2 Liquid wastes, surplus chemicals, and empty chemical containers must not be placed in designated sharps containers without prior approval from the Environmental Health and Safety Office.

3.2 Other broken glassware is not regulated. It may be discarded in designated sharps containers or placed directly in dumpsters. Care must be taken to minimize the risks encountered by our custodians when they handle laboratory wastes.

3.3 Unbroken glassware, plasticware, volumetric pipettes and other similar items may be discarded in regular laboratory trash containers. Some breakage during subsequent handling is inevitable and acceptable.

3.4 Empty chemical bottles may be discarded in regular laboratory waste containers. Bottles should be clean and open. Custodians have been instructed to refuse closed containers because of concern about the potential for the release of residual chemical odors.

4.0 Biological Wastes

4.1 Uncontaminated and unpreserved indigenous marine specimens must be placed in designated “animal buckets” provided by the Department of Building Services and Grounds. These wastes are collected by custodians and disposed of at sea by the Aquatic Resources Division of the Marine Resources Center. Absolutely no paper, plastic, glass or other laboratory wastes may be placed in the animal buckets.

4.2 All non-indigenous, fresh water, terrestrial, and contaminated or preserved animals and animal tissues must be securely packaged, labeled, and placed in the freezer in the Loeb basement. These wastes are disposed of via incineration by a licensed medical waste facility.

4.3 All biological cultures, stock solutions, and other wastes contaminated with living organisms must be sterilized via steam autoclaving or another accepted method prior to being discarded down drains or in regular laboratory trash.

4.3.1 Containers and bags of infectious waste, defined as waste that contains microorganisms capable of causing infection in a healthy susceptible host, must be distinctively marked with the international biohazard symbol until they have been sterilized. After sterilization, bags and containers bearing the biohazard symbol must be emptied and all symbols must be obscured before they are discarded in regular trash.

4.3.2 Items contaminated with non-infectious organisms may be autoclaved and discarded in clear autoclave bags available through the Stock Room and/or Safety.

4.3.3 Wastes containing organisms containing recombinant DNA molecules must be rendered noninfectious by autoclaving or by disinfection with a chemical of demonstrated efficacy against the target or indicator organism. When autoclaving is used, its effectiveness must be evaluated mechanically and biologically by using a recording thermometer and an indicator microorganism with a defined heat susceptibility pattern.

5.0 Policy Clarification and Updates:
Policy clarification and updates are available from the Environmental Health and Safety Office,  (508) 289-7424, MBL ext. 7424.