How to Properly Store Biohazardous Medical Waste

In Arizona, there are very specific requirements for the proper storage of biohazardous medical waste.

Gloved hand properly storing biohazardous medical waste in a container.

When it comes to the storage of biohazardous medical waste, many medical practices and businesses unintentionally break the rules set forth by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ).

Stay compliant by following these rules for storing biohazardous medical waste in Arizona.

Establish a Proper Storage Area

Medical waste generators must provide a storage area for packaged medical waste until it is collected for off-site treatment. And there are a few medical waste storage room requirements that must legally be adhered to.

The area must be secure, restrict contact by authorized persons to the waste and display universal biohazard symbols and warning signs. Warning signs must be worded as follows: “CAUTION — BIOHAZARDOUS MEDICAL WASTE STORAGE AREA — UNAUTHORIZED PERSONS KEEP OUT” (English); “PRECAUCION — ZONA DE ALMACENAMIENTO DE DESPERDICIOS BIOLOGICOS PELIGROSOS — PROHIBIDA LA ENTRADA A PERSONAS NO AUTORIZADAS” (Spanish).

The room designated for biohazardous medical waste storage must never be used to store other substances like food, beverages or medical supplies — only regulated medical waste.

The area must also be protected from contamination and contact with water, rain, wind and animals (including birds). Generators must make sure that medical waste storage does not become a breeding ground for rodents and insects.

Schedule Waste Pickups (from Professionals) at Proper Intervals

Biohazardous medical waste cannot be stored for more than 90 days, unless the generator has approved facilities in compliance with A.R.S. § 49-762.04 (rules governing waste regulation). And all biohazardous medical waste transporters have to be approved by the ADEQ, and they need to follow U.S Department of Transportation guidelines as well.

Reduce Odors

Putrescible medical waste (medical waste that includes organic matter that has the potential to decompose) may be left unrefrigerated if it does not cause undesirable odors. Otherwise, it must be refrigerated at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. If any odor issues arise, the generator must minimize them. If the ADEQ finds that the generator did not perform measures to adequately control the odors, it will require the waste be either removed or refrigerated.

Guidelines for Medical Waste Containers

Generators may place conspicuously marked biohazardous medical waste containers alongside solid waste containers. Different waste types, however, must never be comingled.

Medical waste containers that have spilled must be repackaged and relabeled. Surfaces soiled by the spill must be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.

Turn to the Experts

US Bio-Clean, an Arizona medical waste disposal company, provides training in the proper handling, packaging and storage of biohazardous medical waste, pharmaceutical waste, chemotherapy waste and RCRA hazardous waste.

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