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Hazardous Waste Management
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Bagging hazardous waste
The laws set forth by the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) govern handling and disposal procedures of certain laboratory wastes that are categorized as hazardous. A waste is hazardous if it is listed by EPA or exhibit one or more characteristics of being Ignitable, Reactive, Corrosive, or Extraction Procedure Toxic.

The following video is a supplement to the training session.

Hazardous Waste in Windows Media
RunningTime: 17 minutes

USPSNL is considered a small quantity generator of hazardous waste, which means less than 100 kg or 22 pounds of hazardous waste is produced per month. Lets keep it that way.

Disposal of certain non-hazardous chemical wastes is permitted according to the guidelines set forth by the Cornell University Guide for Drain Disposal of Laboratory Chemicals. These disposal policies are available electronically at OF LABORATORY WASTES

Regulated Medical Waste

 Biohazard sign

New York State defines Regulated Medical Waste as a waste that is capable of transmitting disease to humans. This waste is generated in the diagnosis, treatment or immunization of human beings or animals, in research pertaining thereto, or in production and testing of biologicals. Additionally, regulated medical waste cannot contain any hazardous chemical or radioactive waste components. The biological component must first be decontaminated and then treated as chemical or radioactive waste.

Categories of regulated medical waste include:

  • Discarded used or unused needles, syringes, pipettes, razor blades in contact with infectious agents

  • Broken glass, broken petri dish, rigid culture tubes, flasks, beakers, and other labwares in contact with infectious agents

  • Blood vials used in animal care

Cultures and Stocks

  • Agents infectious to humans (those that require biosafety level 2 and 3 containment), including cultures and stocks from medical, pathological, or research laboratories, and their associated biologicals

  • Wastes from the production of biologicals (serums, vaccines, antigens, antitoxins, cell lines, and cultures), as well as materials used for cleanup of spills

  • Discarded live or attenuated vaccines, biological toxins

  • Systems used to grow and maintain infectious agents in vitro, including but not limited to nutrient agars, gels, and broths

  • Culture dishes and devices used to transfer, inoculate or mix cultures, including not limited to: plastic or glass plates, paper, gloves, growth media, gels, filters, stoppers, plugs, flasks, inoculation loops and wires, contaminated pipette tips, tubes, stirring devices, etc

  • Mammalian cell lines that may contain latent viruses and/or other opportunistic pathogens or zoomotic agents (capable of transmitting disease from animals to man)

Animal Waste

  • Carcasses, body parts, body fluids, blood, or bedding from animals known to be contaminated with infectious agents (e.g.,zoonotic organisms) or from animals inoculated during research.

Segregation and Packaging

  • Sharps: Collected in approved rigid, leakproof, punture-resistant containers that can be secured to prevent loss of contents. Each container must be prominently labeled with a universal biohazard sign or the word "Biohazard". Food containers (i.e. coffee cans) are not permissible as sharp containers.

  • Cultures: Placed in red biohazard bags or, if liquid cultures, chemically decontaminated via bleach solution or autoclave

  • Solid waste: Items such as cloth, gloves, plastic, and paper items that have been exposed to agents infectious or hazardous to humans or animals is to be placed in red biohazard bags

  • Liquid waste: Liquid waste containing infectious agents such as culture media, blood, and body fluids can chemically decontaminated and then disposed of in a sanitary sewer. Decontamination treatment is a 10-fold dilution of household bleach (9 parts liquid waste plus 1 part household bleach) for 10 to 15 minutes defore discharging to drain. Alternatively, the waste can be placed in a container and autoclaved, and then discarded in the sanitary sewer.

  • Animal: Small and medium-sized animal carcasses should be placed in plastic bags, or if contaminated with infectious agents, in red biohazard bags.


Contact Cornell University's Environmental Health & Safety for pickup.

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