Biological Waste

Careful disposal of biological and sharp wastes is an integral component of laboratory research.  Infectious materials and sharps which are not properly managed pose serious health risks to each person who encounters them, whether in the laboratory itself or at some point during the process of removal and transport.

In Massachusetts, the generation, storage and disposal of biological and sharps wastes is governed through the Department of Public Health regulation 105 CMR 480 ‘Minimum Requirements for Medical or Biological Waste (State Sanitary Code Chapter VIII)’.

The definition of biological waste encompasses blood and blood products, pathological waste, cultures and stocks of infectious agents and associated biologicals, contaminated animal carcasses and bedding, sharps, and biotechnology by-product effluents (i.e. recombinant DNA).

In most cases, solid biological waste is accumulated in the laboratory in red-bag-lined cardboard boxes, while liquid wastes are disinfected and sink-disposed.  All sharps must be collected in designated sharps containers.  Certain materials such as human tissues and infected animals have special disposal requirements.  Work with ‘Risk-Group 3’ level organisms (such as those in BSL3 laboratories) requires lab-specific waste disposal SOPs.  Biological wastes which are mixed with chemicals or radiological materials also require special handling and disposal.

The links below are to the IBC-approved waste management protocol for BSL1 and BSL2 laboratories at Boston University.  The rules are the same for all BU laboratories, however there some small operational differences between campuses.

BSL1 and BSL2 Biological Waste Management: Biological Waste Management Guideline – BUMC

BSL1 and BSL2 Biological Waste Management: Biological Waste Management Guideline – CRC

Remember that while it is very important to dispose of all regulated biological and sharps waste according to BU policy, it is expensive and wasteful to rely on the biological waste containers as receptacles for non-biological wastes.  Uncontaminated wastes such as clean bench pads, gloves and towels should go into the regular trash.