4.4 Biohazardous/ Infectious Waste

In Iowa, disposal of waste is regulated by the DNR (Department of Natural Resources).  The DNR defines infectious waste as waste that includes the categories listed below.  Infectious means containing pathogens with sufficient virulence and quantity so that exposure to an infectious agent by a susceptible host could result in an infectious disease when the infectious agent is improperly treated, stored, transported or disposed.  At the University, infectious waste and biohazardous waste are synonymous.  Since a precise definition of infectious waste, based on the quantity and type of etiologic agents present is virtually impossible, the most practical approach to infectious waste management is to identify those categories of waste that have the greatest potential for transmitting disease.  The following categories of waste are designated as infectious: 

Cultures and Stocks 

Cultures, stocks of infectious agents and associated biologicals including but not limited to:
  • specimens from medical, pathology and research laboratories;
  • disposable culture/Petri dishes;
  • wastes from the production of biologicals;
  • discarded live and attenuated vaccines; and
  • culture dishes and devices used to transfer, inoculate, and mix cultures.

Pathological Wastes and Human Body Fluids 

  • tissues, organs, body parts and body fluids that are removed during surgery, autopsy, or other medical procedures;
  • specimens of body fluids and their containers; and
  • cerebrospinal fluid, synovial fluid, pleural fluid, peritoneal fluid, pericardial fluid, and amniotic fluid from humans.

Human Blood and Blood Products 

  • waste human blood;
  • products of blood;
  • items saturated and/or dripping with human blood;
  • items that were saturated with human blood that are now caked with dried human blood; and
  • serum, plasma, and other blood components, and their container(s), which were used in either patient care, testing and laboratory analysis or the development of pharmaceuticals.

Sharps, Needles and Hypodermics 

  • sharps that have been used in animal or human patient care or treatment or in medical, research or industrial laboratories, including hypodermic needles, syringes, Pasteur pipettes, scalpel blades, razor blades and needles with attached tubing;
  • broken or unbroken glassware that was in contact with infectious agents;
  • used slides and cover slips; and 
  • shards of contaminated broken glass. 

Animal Carcasses and Bedding 

Animal carcasses, body parts and bedding of animals that were known to have been exposed to infectious agents during research, production of biological material or testing of pharmaceuticals are infectious waste. 

Isolation Wastes 

These include all wastes that are biological or discarded materials contaminated with blood, excretion, exudates or secretions from humans who are isolated to protect others from highly communicable diseases. 

Other Laboratory Wastes 

These wastes include, but are not limited to: 
  • specimen containers;
  • disposable gloves, lab coats, masks, booties and aprons;
  • disposable pipettes;
  • all cell culture materials;
  • all microorganisms constructed using rDNA;
  • pipette tips;
  • solidified blood and body fluids; and
  • all wastes that have been steam sterilized.
Please refer to the Biohazard Waste Guidelines located on EHS’s Web site for questions regarding biohazardous waste types and segregation, packing, and pickup of waste.