Office Of Environmental Health & Safety

Northeastern University
360 Huntington Avenue
170 Cullinane Hall
Boston, MA 02115-5000

phone: 617.373.2769
fax: 617.373.7622 Image 2

Biohazardous Waste Disposal Fact Sheet

November 2010

The State of Massachusetts under the amended State Sanitary Code (105 CMR 480.000) defines infectious waste (biohazardous) in the following manner: Waste that because of its characteristics may cause, or significantly contribute to, an increase in mortality or an increase in serious irreversible or incapacitating reversible illness; or pose a substantial present potential hazard to human health or the environment when improperly treated, stored, transported, disposed of, or otherwise managed. The following six types of waste are identified and defined as medical or biological waste:

(A) Waste generators are responsible for containing and storing medical or biological waste in a primary containers such as bags which are red, fluorescent orange or orange-red and are impervious to moisture and have sufficient strength to resist ripping, tearing, or bursting under normal conditions of use and handling. Each primary container shall:

(B) All areas for on-site storage of containers of medical or biological waste shall be in an uncarpeted room or area with impervious, cleanable, non-absorbent flooring, used exclusively for waste storage.

(C) All on-site storage areas shall:

(D) Sharps shall be segregated from other wastes and aggregated immediately after use in red, fluorescent orange or orange-red leakproof, rigid, puncture-resistant, shatterproof containers that resist breaking under normal conditions of use and handling, and that are marked prominently with the universal biohazard warning symbol and the word “Biohazard” in a contrasting color. These containers are available from the Office of Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) or can be purchased by the individual(s) producing the waste. Containers used for collection can not exceed 20" in height and 16" in width. This restriction is necessary because sharp containers are transferred intact into another box prior to disposal. Other types of waste must be contained and stored in containers provided by the Generators. Only authorized persons working in the lab shall have access or contact with such waste.

(E) Free draining blood and blood products and biotechnology by-product effluents shall be stored at all times in leakproof containers that are securely sealed.

(F) Compactors or grinders shall not be used to process medical or biological waste until it has been rendered noninfectious and safe for disposal.

(G) All medical or biological waste, except from home sharps users, must be treated on-site or transported off-site for treatment at a minimum once per calendar year.

The following methods of treatment and disposal are currently acceptable for generators of infectious waste at Northeastern University:

OEHS will provide black disposal bags and labels with the University's name, address and phone number, for all infectious waste that is treated on campus. These labels will be used to identify the material as noninfectious and will meet all the labeling requirements in the regulation. These bags are not autoclavable. Generators will still be required to provide their own autoclave bags (3 mil thick) when handling and treating the waste on site. All wastes not treated on campus and to be sent out for treatment and disposal will be placed in shipping containers provided by EHS. Generators authorized to ship out containers on their own will receive special training from EHS. A procedure for shipping these containers is outlined in section six. In addition, the following wastes identified below must be handled in the following manner:


Every container or bag of waste which has not been rendered noninfectious shall be distinctly marked with the international biohazard symbol and colored red to indicate that it contains potentially infectious waste, and in the case of sharp wastes, be distinctly labeled to indicate that it contains sharp waste capable of inflicting punctures or cuts. These sharp containers will be provided by EHS. Every container or bag of waste which has not been rendered noninfectious and which will be transported off the premises of the waste generator shall in addition to the requirements of this section be placed in boxes which are:

Each box shall bear a label which states the name, address and telephone number of the generator. The label shall be affixed in a manner which ensures that it cannot be easily removed. Boxes meeting these requirements will available through EHS. In addition to the labeling on the box, the outer bag inside the box is required to have a label with the same information. A hazardous waste disposal label used in our chemical waste program will be appropriate to meet this requirement. Prior to transport for off-site disposal, waste which has been rendered noninfectious by a method other than incineration shall be placed in a black 4 mil disposal bag so as to clearly identify it as noninfectious medical or biological waste and to identify the waste generator responsible for the treatment. Once clearly signed, bagged and sealed, such waste may be disposed of in the same manner as regular rubbish handled by the Building Services Department. The generator will be required to clearly sign the disposal bag in the appropriate area.


The generator shall maintain records of temperature and dwell times used in each instance where waste has been rendered noninfectious by gas or steam sterilization. There will be a log sheet at each autoclave for the generator to fill out to record this information. Biological spore tests will routinely be done by each department utilizing an autoclave to render waste noninfectious in order to verify efficiency of the autoclave. The N.U. fact sheet for autoclave testing outlines this procedure in detail. The above records must be stored and retained for at least three years. The generator shall also maintain records of volume and type of waste rendered noninfectious on-site which shall be available for EHS review. EHS will provide a standard form for all generators to use. Again such records shall be retained for at least three years. EHS will accept such records for storage.


Only personnel trained and approved by EHS are allowed to ship out infectious waste from Northeastern University. Shipping boxes are limited to eighty (80) pounds maximum capacity. All boxes must be double lined with bags provided by our approved vendor. Sharps placed into these shipping containers must be contained in sharps containers. These bags must be tied off before closure and the outer bag must be labeled with the generators name, address and telephone number. Unlabeled, bulging, crushed, or leaking boxes will be refused by the vender. Manifests must be filled out for all shipments.

EHS will assist generators in preparing manifests when necessary. The generator shall appoint a designee to prepare and sign the manifest. Original copies must be sent to EHS so that they are available to us for various record keeping needs. Manifests provided by EHS will include the following information:

The U.S. Congress has made waste minimization a national policy and goal of each waste generator. You as a generator of infectious waste have the responsibility to minimize the waste you generate. Waste minimization has benefits such as decreasing your exposure to infectious materials, protection of the environment, and the overall reduction in the cost of disposal which continues to rise every year.

If you have any questions or would like assistance with ideas for waste minimization, please contact the Office Environmental Health and Safety at x2769.