Medical Waste Management Act, Health and Safety Code
· Section 118275 (g) Pharmaceutical Waste must be placed in a container labeled “INCINERATION ONLY”. Both sharps non-sharps approved pharmaceutical waste containers are available through your medical waste hauler.
· Containers with less than 3% of original total volume are considered as either holding trace amounts or empty. These containers can be placed in the regular trash (please note, this does not apply to RCRA hazardous wastes)
· Small amounts of liquid pharmaceutical wastes may be dumped on a special absorbent pad placed inside a pharmaceutical waste container -- the empty syringe may then be disposed of in sharps container or empty vial disposed of in the regular trash. If the needle is removed (must be placed in a sharps container) from the empty syringe the latter may be discarded in the trash.
Contact your Medical Waste Hauler to obtain absorbent pads.
· 118280(e) Dispose of full containers within 90 days, and remove at least once a year.
Hazardous Wastes (RCRA)
· Certain pharmaceuticals (i.e. expired crash cart meds and unused chemotherapy) meet guidelines for ignitability, corrosivity, toxicity, or flammability and are hazardous wastes under the Federal Resource Recovery and Conservation Act (RCRA). These wastes and empty containers MUST be segregated from pharmaceutical waste. Large quantity generators (100 kg or more per month) must obtain a Federal EPA ID number and have the waste picked up by a Federally approved Hazardous Waste hauler. Small quantity generators must obtain a Cal EPA ID from the California Department of Toxic Substance Control (DTSC) and may drop their hazardous waste off at their local Household Hazardous Waste Collection Sites for a fee.
Useful web links:
County of Santa Cruz Household Hazardous Waste Drop-off center
California Department of Toxic Substance Control:
Appendix B – Medical
CA Health and Safety Code Section 117700 NOT Medical Waste:
(c) Urine, feces, saliva, sputum, nasal secretions, sweat, tears, or vomitus, unless it contains fluid blood, as provided in subdivision (d) of Section 117635.
(d) Waste which is not biohazardous, such as paper towels, paper products, articles containing non-fluid blood, and other medical solid waste products commonly found in the facilities of medical waste generators.
(d) Hazardous waste, radioactive waste, or household waste, including, but not limited to, home-generated sharps waste, as defined in Section 117671
Section 117635 Biohazardous Wastes Defined:
(d) Waste…containing recognizable fluid blood, fluid blood products, containers or equipment containing blood that is fluid, or blood from animals known to be infected with diseases which are highly communicable to humans
(e) Waste containing discarded materials contaminated with excretion, exudates, or secretions from humans or animals that are required to be isolated by the infection control staff, the attending physician, and surgeon…veterinarian, or the local health officer, to protect others from highly communicable diseases….
(f) (2)….chemotherapeutic agent means an agent that kills or prevents the reproduction of malignant cells.
(3)…a container, or inner liner, removed from a container, which previously contained a chemotherapeutic agent, is empty if the container or inner liner removed from the container has been emptied by the generator as much as possible, using methods commonly employed to remove waste or material from containers or liners, so that the following conditions are met:
(A) If the material which the container or inner liner held is pourable, no material can be poured or drained from the container or inner liner when held in any orientation, including, but not limited to, when tilted or inverted.
(B) If the material which the container or inner liner held is not pourable, no material or waste remains in the container or inner liner that can feasibly be removed by scraping.
(g) Waste that is hazardous only because it is comprised of pharmaceuticals, as defined in Section 11747. Notwithstanding subdivision (a) of Section 117690, medical waste includes biohazardous waste that meets the conditions of this subdivision. Biohazardous waste that meets the conditions of this subdivision is not subject to Chapter 6.5 (commencing with Section 25100) of Division 20
Section 117690 - Medical Waste:
(a) “Medical waste” means waste which meets both of the following requirements:
(1) The waste is composed of waste which is generated or produced as a result of any of the following actions:
(A) Diagnosis, treatment, or immunization of human beings or
(B) Research pertaining to (A) above.
(C) Production or testing of biologicals.
(D) The accumulation of properly contained home-generated sharps waste that is brought by a patient, a member of the patient’s family, or by a person authorized by the enforcement agency, to a point of consolidation approved by the enforcement agency pursuant to Section 117904 or authorized pursuant to Section 11847.
(2) The waste is either of the following:
(A) Biohazardous Waste.
(B) Sharps Waste.
Section 118275 (g) Pharmaceutical Waste must be placed in a container labeled “INCINERATION
ONLY”. Both sharps non-sharps approved pharmaceutical waste containers are available through your medical waste hauler.