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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

Tips For Safely Cleaning Up Biohazard Waste

11/20/2020 (Permalink)

SERVPRO of Richardson has the experience to professionally handle a variety of biohazard cleanup scenarios.

If you’ve ever been to a doctor’s office, you’ll notice that there are separate bins labeled for biohazards. There’s a reason we keep biohazards contained and separate from the public. 

Cities will often issue a “boil water notice” when there is the possibility that the water supply has been contaminated with toxic material. Humankind has been battling the spread of illness for centuries, and containing what we suspect to be infectious is one of our best defenses.

SERVPRO cares about public health in Richardson, Texas. We offer safe and professional biohazard cleanup to mitigate exposure to harmful biohazards. Today, we’ll explain why biohazardous waste must be handled with care.

What is Biohazard Waste?

Biohazard material involves any biological material that poses a danger to other living creatures. Biohazards can be present in any environment.  Because of the risk of disease associated with biohazards, any biohazard cleanup should be handled with vigilant caution.

Professional biohazard cleaning services have extensive training and proper PPE (personal protection equipment) to remove biohazards and minimize risk to humans and animals. It’s best to leave it to the professionals. When in doubt, call SERVPRO at (972) 690-1414, so we may advise you on how to proceed with biohazard cleanup.

Different Types of Biohazard Waste

We throw things away every day, so what is the difference between trash and biohazard waste? Is your spoiled milk a biohazard? While spoiled food could make you sick, it’s not considered a biohazard. 

We’ll cover the criteria for what qualifies as biohazard waste.

  • Blood - Human blood or tissue that contains human blood.
  • Animal waste - Animal carcasses or decaying body parts.
  • Bodily fluids - Human fluids and secretions.
  • Microbiological - Specimen cultures, disposable dishes for the culture, discarded viruses, and any devices used for transfer or mixing of cultures.
  • Pathological - Biopsy materials, or anatomical parts from medical procedures.
  • “Sharps” - Needles, scalpels, or IV tubing, etc.

Biohazard Waste Levels

Assigning levels is how we measure the risk when dealing with certain substances. The higher the biohazard level, the more likely it is that you’ll need professional assistance and protocols to manage the biohazard cleanup.

Level 1 - Minimal threat (may cause illness): E. coli, Bacillus subtilis, and Naegleria gruberi.

Level 2 - Moderate threat (likely to cause severe illness in humans): HIV, hepatitis B, salmonella, etc. - those transmissions that occur as a consequence of direct contact with infected material.

Level 3 - Serious threat (serious diseases): Tuberculosis, Coxiella burnetii, etc. - those pathogens that spread by way of airborne transmission.

Level 4 - Highest risk (life-threatening diseases with no cure): Ebola virus, Lassa virus, etc.

If any of these diseases are known to be a clear and present danger, please don’t attempt to do a biohazard cleanup if you aren’t trained or don’t have the right supplies for it. Call the professionals at SERVPRO for guidance and assistance.

How to Properly Cleanup Biohazard Waste

The ability to do a biohazardous cleanup is ultimately dependent on what resources or trained workers are available to carefully address the cleanup of the hazardous materials present.

  • Solid waste - Any non-sharp material that contacts human or animal specimens such as personal protective equipment (PPE), towels, linens, Petri dishes, and pipettes. These are disposed of separately from “sharps” (like scalpels, needles, or fragile glass items). Healthcare workers dispose of solid waste in a designated container lined with an autoclave bag marked with a biohazard symbol. This waste is disposed of as regular medical waste and will be sent to a pre-approved landfill.
  • Liquid waste - Body fluids or blood that may contain an infectious agent that has a volume of 25 milliliters or less. These are placed in a specified leakproof container (indicated by a hazard label) which is safely installed so it won’t tip over. Sometimes these are placed in a secondary container for added security. Bleach or autoclaving is sometimes applied to liquid biohazard (except for body fluids or chemical waste).
  • “Sharps” waste - All medical instruments that could be infectious and are sharp enough to puncture the skin or a plastic bag (needles, microscope slides, scalpels, and broken glass vials). Dispose of these items in specified containers that are resistant to puncture, and are leak-proof. “Sharps” containers are picked up by a medical waste service provider for incineration.
  • Pathological waste - Animal or human organs, tissues, and body parts (such as biopsy material). Any one of these may contain infectious agents. This waste is double-bagged to prevent leaks and is stored in a secondary container. These would be incinerated as with liquid waste.
  • Microbiological waste - Laboratory waste such as disposable culture dishes and specimen cultures, or discarded viruses and devices used to mix cultures that may contain infectious agents or pathogenic organisms. These items are either treated onsite by qualified personnel or carefully disposed of in a designated waste storage area.

Biohazard remediation is done with the appropriate containment where it can be picked up by a professional medical waste company for transport to an industrial incinerator. Other means of biohazard remediation include disinfection, chemicals, and autoclaving, but in many cases, incineration is a regulatory requirement.

Where Does Biohazardous Waste Go?

To be 100% certain that infectious agents or pathogenic organisms from waste are securely contained, we place such materials in the proper containers and sometimes add additional protective layers. Professional training comes into play as understanding which is the appropriate means of disposal is crucial. 

The final destination for the bulk of biohazard cleanup waste is an incineration facility for the safe destruction of toxic materials. All packages are placed into a chamber with heat surpassing 850°C, then moved into a secondary chamber where it retains gases for over 2 seconds. Pollution control systems keep harmful gases from leaking into the environment during the process.

Improper Biohazard Waste Disposal

If biohazardous waste is packed up tight, how is it still a threat? Those in the sciences and medical fields want to make absolutely sure that nothing they throw away will harm other living beings.

Say you tossed a bag of biohazard waste into a dumpster behind a clinic. Animals could break into the bag and come into contact with bloodborne pathogens and spread this throughout the community. Dumpster divers might open the containers and hurt themselves on sharp containers. Also, it would be dangerous to have biohazards in general-purpose landfills.

For everyone’s safety, these materials must be properly disposed of to avoid the spread of such serious illnesses as Hepatitis C, Hepatitis B, HIV, etc.

When biohazard cleanup waste disposal is not handled properly, this is likely a violation of state or federal law and could incur steep fines and possibly jail time.

Reach Out to SERVPRO of Richardson for Biohazard Cleanup

If you’re in doubt about whether you can handle a biohazard cleanup, more than likely you will need a dependable biohazard cleaning company to step in and help you dispose of biohazards safely and securely.

SERVPRO of Richardson has experience with a variety of biohazard cleanup scenarios including:

  • Crime scene cleanup (homicide, meth lab, tear gas, etc.).
  • Unattended death cleanup (suicide or accidental death).
  • C Diff Cleaning
  • Hoarding
  • Sewage backup or chemical spills
  • Animal waste (such as a rodent infestation).

Some scenarios are of a sensitive nature, and in such situations, our biohazard cleaning services are carried out with compassion and discretion. If you find yourself with an overwhelming biohazard cleanup situation on your hands, don’t take any chances. Leave it to the professionals. Call SERVPRO for 24/7 emergency contact at (972) 690-1414.

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