BioMedical Waste, (BMW), consists of solids, liquids, sharps, and laboratory waste that are potentially infectious or dangerous and are considered biowaste. It must be properly managed to protect the general public, specifically healthcare and sanitation workers who are regularly exposed to biomedical waste as an occupational hazard. In hospitals, medical waste, otherwise known as clinical waste, normally refers to waste products that cannot be considered general waste, produced from healthcare premises, such as hospitals, clinics, doctors offices, veterinary hospitals and labs.
Biomedical waste differs from other types of hazardous waste, such as industrial waste, in that it comes from biological sources or is used in the diagnosis, prevention, or treatment of diseases. Common producers of biomedical waste include hospitals, health clinics, nursing homes, medical research laboratories, offices of physicians, dentists, and veterinarians, home health care, and funeral homes.
Regulation by country
In the UK, clinical waste and the way it is to be handled is closely regulated. Applicable legislation  includes the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (Part II), Waste Management Licencing Regulations 1994, and the Hazardous Waste Regulations (England & Wales) 2005, as well as the Special Waste Regulations in Scotland.
In 1988 the Federal government passed The Medical Waste Tracking Act which set the standards for governmental regulation of medical waste. After the Act expired in 1991, States were given the responsibility to regulate and pass laws concerning the disposal of medical waste. All fifty states vary in their regulations from no regulations to very strict.
Disposal of this waste is an environmental concern, as many medical wastes are classified as infectious or biohazardous and could potentially lead to the spread of infectious disease. Examples of infectious waste include blood, potentially contaminated "sharps" such as needles and scalpels, and identifiable body parts. Sharps include used needles, lancets, and other devices capable of penetrating skin. Infectious waste is often incinerated. The most common method of sterilization is an autoclave. The autoclave uses steam and pressure to sterilize the waste. Additionally, medical facilities produce a variety of waste hazardous chemicals, including radioactive materials. While such wastes are normally not infectious, they may be classified as hazardous wastes, and require proper disposal.
In the United States, there are three main methods for medical waste generators to dispose of their waste: On-site, truck service, and mail-back disposal. On-site treatment involves the use of very expensive equipment, and is generally only used by very large hospitals and major universities who have the means to afford such equipment. Truck service involves hiring of a medical waste disposal service whose employees are trained to collect and haul away medical waste in special containers (usually cardboard boxes, or reusable plastic bins) for treatment at a facility designed to handle large amounts of medical waste. Mail-back medical waste disposal is similar, except that the waste is shipped through the U.S. postal service instead of by private hauler. Although currently available in all 50 U.S. states, mail-back medical waste disposal is limited to very strict postal regulations (collection and shipping containers must be approved by the postal service for use) and only available by a handful of companies.
Specialized equipment is required to meet OSHA 29 CFR 1910.1450 and EPA 40 CFR 264.173. standards of safety. Minimal recommended equipment include a fume hood and primary and secondary waste containers to capture potential overflow. Even beneath the fume hood, containers containing chemical contaminants should remain closed when not in use. An open funnel placed in the mouth of a waste container has been shown to allow significant evaporation of chemicals into the surrounding atmosphere, which is then inhaled by laboratory personnel, and contributes a primary component to the threat of completing the fire triangle. To protect the health and safety of laboratory staff as well as neighboring civilians and the environment, proper waste management equipment, such as the Burkle funnel in Europe and the ECO Funnel in the U.S., should be utilized in any department which deals with chemical waste.
- Human waste
- List of waste management topics
- List of waste types
- Medical waste
- Universal precautions
- Environmental Waste Controls plc
- [[Medical Waste in TN]]
- NetRegs - Current legislation lists
- "National Research Council Recommendations Concerning Chemical Hygiene in Laboratories". United States Department of Labor. Retrieved 15 May 2013.
- "Guidance on Closed Containers". Environmental Protection Agency. Retrieved 15 May 2013.