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Other Healthcare Facility Waste

In addition to infectious, hazardous and solid waste, healthcare facilities may generate a number of specialized wastes with specific management requirements. It is your facility's responsibility to properly identify and manage all the types of waste you generate.


Chemotherapy waste

Chemotherapy waste includes chemotherapy drugs, their containers (vials, bottles, other packaging) and items contaminated with chemotherapy drugs, such as IV bags and tubing, syringes, gowns, gloves, sheets and pads. Chemotherapy waste includes both antineoplastic and cytotoxic wastes.

Your waste may be trace chemotherapy waste, bulk chemotherapy waste, listed hazardous waste or characteristic hazardous waste. The descriptions below are general. For more detailed information, read Managing Chemotherapy Waste (WA-1258) [PDF].

Bulk chemotherapy waste, including listed and characteristic hazardous wastes

Bulk chemotherapy waste is any waste contaminated with more than residual amounts of chemotherapy drugs. It includes leftover chemotherapy drugs, items splashed with chemotherapy drugs and spill cleanup materials.

Only about eight chemotherapy agents are listed as hazardous wastes under state and federal hazardous waste rules. Even so, DNR strongly recommends as a best management practice that all bulk and mixed chemo waste be managed as hazardous waste, destined for incineration or other very high-temperature destruction. Do not treat these wastes on-site or send them to an infectious waste treatment facility that disinfects waste with chemicals or steam (e.g., autoclave, microwave, radiowave facilities).

Trace chemotherapy waste

Trace chemotherapy wastes are items contaminated with residual amounts of chemotherapy drugs, such as gloves and gowns. This waste is defined in s. NR 500.03(237m), Wis. Adm. Code [PDF exit DNR], and must be managed according to s. NR 526.055, Wis. Adm. Code [PDF exit DNR]. Trace chemotherapy waste must be incinerated.

Radioactive Waste

Radioactive waste

Radioactive wastes contain radioactive materials and can be solids, liquids or gases. Radioactive waste can be generated in nuclear medicine, nuclear cardiology, radiation oncology, blood banks, clinical laboratories and research laboratories. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services has additional information about the management of radioactive materials [exit DNR].

For radioactive wastes generated by healthcare facilities, there are four primary management options:

  1. decay in storage;
  2. discharge to a sanitary sewer with permission from sewer authority;
  3. ship to a radioactive waste disposal facility; and
  4. return to vendor.

Occasionally, facilities will generate "mixed waste." Mixed waste is waste that contains both hazardous waste and radioactive material and must be managed in accordance with both U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and DNR or U.S. EPA rules. For information on the regulation of mixed wastes, see subch. N of ch. NR 666, Wis. Adm. Code [exit DNR].

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Universal Waste

Universal waste

Universal wastes are specific hazardous wastes that many types of businesses generate, including healthcare facilities. Examples of universal wastes include fluorescent lamps, batteries, such mercury-containing devices as sphygmometers and thermometers), pesticides and antifreeze.

To encourage the recycling of these wastes, a special set of regulations reduces requirements for collection and transportation while still ensuring proper management of the waste. Facility operators can send universal wastes to recyclers that reclaim materials from the waste, such as mercury from thermometers or nickel and cadmium from batteries.

The requirements for managing universal waste depend on whether you are a small or large quantity handler. Small quantity handlers of universal waste are those facilities that accumulate less than 11,025 pounds (5,000 kg) of universal waste at any time. Large quantity handlers accumulate 11,025 pounds or more of universal waste. To determine if you are a small or large quantity handler of universal waste, count the amount of all universal wastes accumulating at your facility.

Dental Waste

Dental waste

Dentists generate small amounts of a wide variety of wastes. To find out how to manage infectious, recyclable or pharmaceutical wastes, refer to the topics on the right. For other wastes, such as amalgam and fixer, please see these resources.