Office of Research Assurances


Biohazardous Waste

Biohazardous waste includes any waste item that is contaminated with a biological material such that it creates an infectious disease transmission risk or an environmental release risk (e.g., recombinant DNA).

Unlike hazardous chemical or radioactive waste, there is no one federal agency that clearly defines and regulates biohazardous waste. Several agencies associated with research funding have unique waste disposal requirements. Therefore, it is the researcherís responsibility to have a general knowledge of biosafety regulations & guidelines and how they apply to their work and the waste that is generated through the research and diagnostic service process.

Please review the regulatory/agency information in the following table. If your work will involve generating any of the wastes described in the table then you will most likely need to segregate and manage some portion of your research waste as biohazardous waste.

  • Other Agencies with Biohazardous Waste Requirements
  • Regulation Activities Covered by this Standard Biohazardous Wastes
    OSHA's Bloodborne Pathogens Standard 29 cfr 1910.1030 Work with human-derived materials including clinical and unfixed anatomical specimens, tissues, cell lines, body fluids and other potentially infectious material (OPIM). Those wastes that are contaminated to the extent where fluids can drip off or flake off of waste; liquid wastes; fresh (unfixed) tissues; sharps. Regulated Wastes:
    Means liquid or semi-liquid blood or other potentially infectious materials; contaminated items that would release blood or other potentially infectious materials in a liquid or semi-liquid state if compressed; items that are caked with dried blood or other potentially infectious materials and are capable of releasing these materials during handling; contaminated sharps; and pathological and microbiological wastes containing blood or other potentially infectious materials. OPIM:
    Means (1) The following human body fluids: semen, vaginal secretions, cerebrospinal fluid, synovial fluid, pleural fluid, pericardial fluid, peritoneal fluid, amniotic fluid, saliva in dental procedures, any body fluid that is visibly contaminated with blood, and all body fluids in situations where it is difficult or impossible to differentiate between body fluids; (2) Any unfixed tissue or organ (other than intact skin) from a human (living or dead); and (3) HIV-containing cell or tissue cultures, organ cultures, and HIV- or HBV-containing culture medium or other solutions; and blood, organs, or other tissues from experimental animals infected with HIV or HBV.
    NIH Guidelines for Research Involving Recombinant DNA Molecules Work with genetically modified organisms e.g. transgenic plants and animals and recombinant DNA modified microbes as well as all work with molecules that are constructed outside living cells by joining natural or synthetic DNA segments to DNA molecules that can replicate in a living cell, or molecules that result from the replication of those previously described. All potentially contaminated recombinant DNA solid and liquid wastes including sharps. All animal carcasses covered by appendix Q must be disposed of to avoid their use as food for human beings or animals.
    CDC/NIH "Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories" (BMBL) Lab and animal studies involving work with microorganisms that can cause disease in humans; under certain circumstances, lab and animal studies involving microorganisms that are infectious to animals; diagnostic laboratory operations involving human or animal clinical specimens All cultures, stocks and items contaminated with these materials; in some cases, animal bedding and carcasses; biohazardous sharps.
    USDA/APHIS Permits Work with any animal or plant-derived materials or pathogens that require an APHIS permit to receive or retain the material Permits will outline specific waste treatment requirements for the material in question. However, this usually involves segregation and biological inactivation of the material prior to disposal.
    WAC 16-25-030 (Washington Administrative Code) Disposal of livestock that have died from a reportable disease must be disposed of in consultation with the State Veterinarian. Livestock animals that have died from an OIE reportable disease.
    WAC 173-300-020 WAC 480-70-041 Biomedical Waste which includes but is not limited to: animal waste, liquid human body fluids, cultures and stocks, pathological waste and sharps (even unused sharps when removed from their original packaging) Animal Waste:
    Includes waste animal carcasses, body parts, and bedding of animals that were known to have been deliberately infected or inoculated with human pathogenic microorganisms during research. Liquid Human Body Fluids:
    waste that includes waste liquid emanating or derived from humans including but not limited to human blood and blood products, serum and plasma, sputum, drainage secretions, cerebrospinal fluid, synovial fluid, pleural fluid, peritoneal fluid, pericardial fluid and amniotic fluid that exceeds fifty milliliters per container, Cultures & Stocks:
    Waste that includes waste cultures and stocks of microbiological agents infectious to humans, human serums and discarded live and attenuated vaccines infectious to humans, human blood specimens, and laboratory wastes that are contaminated with these agents or specimens. Pathological Waste:
    Includes waste human source biopsy materials, tissues, and anatomical parts that emanate from surgery, obstetrical procedures, autopsy, and laboratory procedures. Sharps:
    Includes waste hypodermic needles, syringes, IV tubing with needles attached, scalpel blades, and lancets that have been used in animal or human patient care or treatment in medical research. Also includes All hypodermic needles, syringes with needles attached, IV tubing with needles attached, scalpel blades, and lancets that have been removed from the original sterile package.

  • Managing Lab Waste as "Biohazardous" is a Prudent Practice
  • Applying a universal precautions approach (i.e., managing all research biological materials as if they are an infectious disease or environmental release risk) in conducting research activities is a prudent standard. Any questions regarding Biohazardous Waste Management contact: EH&S Mike Kluzik phone: 335-9553 email: For operations and logistics information regarding bio-waste pickup contact Rick Finch phone: 335-3288 email:

  • Mixed Waste Information:
  • Recombinant DNA (rDNA) / Ethidium Bromide (EtBr) mixed wastes: At WSU these wastes are incinerated. For current practices please contact Rick Finch phone: 335-3288 email:

    Note: EtBr waste should not be autoclaved as this can volatilize the agent. rDNA waste per the NIH Guidelines must be decontaminated before disposal but when mixed with EtBr autoclaving is not a viable option.

    Office of Research Assurances, P.O. Box 643143, Neil Room 428, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-3143
    Phone: 509-335-7195, Fax: 509-335-6410,