Biohazard Waste Bags and Receptacles
What are biohazard waste bags?
Biohazard bags store infectious waste to prevent and minimize the propagation of disease. The bags are made with a plastic that resists punctures and wont degrade when exposed to chemicals common in health care and lab settings
What is the difference between red and yellow bags?
According to the Medical Waste Management Act of 2017, all medical waste shall be disposed of in red bags, except in one case (Medical Waste Management Act of 2017, Section 117630).¹
✔ Red is for all medical waste
✔ Yellow is for trace chemotherapy waste
✔ White is used to further segregate pathology waste.
All medical waste goes in red bags. Sharps must be disposed of in sharp-containers. For chemo, your office can separate chemotherapy waste and other bodily fluids using different color biohazard bags. Section 117630 of the Medical Waste Management Act defines the color of biohazard waste bags and reads:
(c) The color of the bag shall be red, EXCEPT when yellow bags are used to further segregate trace chemotherapy waste and white bags are used to further segregate pathology waste. The biohazard bag shall be marked with the international biohazard symbol and may be labeled by reference as authorized by the USDOT.”
If you are in a jurisdiction outside the purview of the Medical Waste Management Act, you can read more about international medical waste disposal guidelines.² If you operate within the EU, then generally all your waste will go in yellow bags with the same biohazard symbol, with the option to further segregate waste into brown bags. EU biohazard waste management guidelines are similar to the US, but with different color bags.³
All types of medical waste must be disposed of in the right hazardous trash bags. Segregating medical waste allows medical staff to handle the waste easily and send the right items to the right disposal. Moreover, this is a great environmental practice that prevents the spread of diseases.
What is the risk of disposing medical waste improperly?
Improper disposal of medical waste increases risks of spreading infectious diseases within your lab or health care facility. Improper disposal may lead to contaminating local water supplies, airborne pathogens contaminating your facilities air ducts, and sickening animals who are exposed to such waste.