Medical Waste in Kentucky
Medical waste in simple terms is any waste that may be contaminated by blood, bodily fluids, or potentially infectious materials. Although the EPA does provide some oversight of medical waste storage and disposal, the majority of medical waste is regulated on a state or local level. In Kentucky, there are no specific regulations pertaining to medical waste and there is no one agency with jurisdiction over medical waste. There are, however, regulations that reference the characterization, treatment, handling, labeling and storage, transport and disposal of this type of waste. These state regulations overlap between environmental, public health, labor and transportation agencies. They are intended to protect personnel, the public and the environment from exposure, injury or contamination of potentially infectious wastes.
MANAGING MEDICAL WASTE
- Characterization and generators of medical waste:
Safe Disposal Tips for Household Medical Waste
Place needles, syringes, lancets and other sharp objects in a hard plastic or metal container with a screw-on lid. Laundry detergent bottles or metal coffee cans may be used or containers specifically designed for the disposal of medical sharps may be purchased.
Reinforce the lid of the container with heavy-duty tape, label “Not Recyclable” and place container in regular trash or take it to a household hazardous waste collection event.
Place soiled bandages, disposable sheets, medical gloves and other types of medical waste in securely fastened plastic bags to be placed with regular trash.
TREATMENT OF MEDICAL WASTE
Treatment is any method, technique or process designed to eliminate pathogens from potentially infectious waste. Under Cabinet for Health and Family Services regulations, hospitals, nursing homes and certain other public health facilities in Kentucky are required to treat medical waste on or off-site. Basically, this means that items contaminated with a potentially infectious material must be rendered nonhazardous prior to disposal or managed through a medical waste disposal contractor.
Sterilizing equipment and other potentially infectious waste using an autoclave, followed by landfilling, is the most common treatment and disposal method. Some medical waste is still incinerated; however, the requirements for lower emissions from air pollutants have resulted in less expensive waste disposal alternatives, such as autoclaving.