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Infectious Wastes

INTRODUCTION

This Industry Profile Fact Sheet is presented by the Environmental Protection Agency, Region III (EPA) to assist state, local, and municipal agencies, and private groups in the initial planning and evaluation of sites being considered for remediation, redevelopment or reuse. It is intended to provide a general description of site conditions and contaminants which may be encountered at specific industrial facilities. This fact sheet is presented for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as a federal policy or directive.

INDUSTRY, PROCESS, OR SITE DESCRIPTION

Biohazards and infectious wastes can range from plant dusts, allergens and toxins, to microbiological organisms. An infectious waste is derived from a biohazard agent which is capable of replication and has the ability to produce deleterious effects upon other biological organisms. The common classes of biohazard agents include infectious and parasitic agents, microorganisms such as fungi, yeast and algae, and animal products which cause infectious disease.

CHARACTERISTIC RAW MATERIALS

Not applicable.

WASTE STREAMS AND POTENTIALLY AFFECTED ENVIRONMENTAL MEDIA

Infectious or Ared bag@ waste can contain anything classifiable as infectious waste from sharps hazards to autoclaved bacteria and virus strains. Etiological agents and vectors for human disease are regulated through the Public Health Service, U.S. Department of Transportation, and the Foreign Quarantine regulations. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is involved in the regulation of animal and plant pathogens.

Most infectious wastes are a contact threat from Afluid to fluid@ contact, although other routes of exposure are possible. There is no Asafe@ level of uncontained pathogen. Illegally dumped infectious wastes are often found in loose piles, plastic bags or drums. The actual infectious material can often be disinfected with bleach or other agents, repackaged and sent for proper disposal.

SAMPLING STRATEGIES

Biohazards and infectious wastes can range from plant dusts, allergens and toxins, to microbiological organisms. Sampling infectious wastes is rarely necessary at illegal dumping or storage locations. However, methods for the collection and evaluation of biological materials may be used which parallel those used for chemical sampling, except that the sample may have to be preserved Aalive@ to minimize the loss between the collection and evaluation stage.

The three main types of biohazard sampling are liquids sampling, surface wipe sampling, and air sampling. Specific methods for suspected agents and sampling strategies must be developed for each individual biohazards incident.

SUGGESTED ANALYTICAL PARAMETERS

Specific for each biohazard

Region 3 | Mid-Atlantic Cleanup | Mid-Atlantic Brownfields & Land Revitalization


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