Waste sufficiently capable of causing infection during handling and disposal (e.g., blood-or saliva-soaked cotton rolls, extracted teeth, sharp items, surgically-removed hard- and soft-tissues) to merit special handling and disposal.
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Medical waste, also known as clinical waste, normally refers to waste products that cannot be considered general waste, produced from healthcare premises, such as hospitals, clinics, doctors offices, labs and nursing homes.
In 1988 the Federal government passed The Medical Waste Tracking Act which set the standards for governmental regulation of medical waste. After the repeal of the act, States were given the responsibility to regulate and pass laws concerning the disposal of medical waste. All fifty states vary in their regulations from no regulations to very strict.
Disposal of this waste is an environmental concern, as many medical wastes are classified as infectious or biohazardous and could potentially lead to the spread of infectious disease. Examples of infectious waste include blood, potentially contaminated "sharps" such as needles and scalpels, and identifiable body parts. Sharps include used needles, lancets, and other devices capable of penetrating skin. Infectious waste is often incinerated.The most common method of sterilization is an autoclave . The autoclave uses steam and pressure to sterilize the waste. The preferred method for body parts is incineration. Additionally, medical facilities produce a variety of waste hazardous chemicals, including radioactive materials. While such wastes are normally not infectious, they may be classified as hazardous wastes, and require proper disposal.