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Medical Waste Disposal for the State of Hawaii

The Hawaii Islands continue to be one of the most beloved tourist attractions in the United States. With scores of visitors year round, the state of Hawaii boasts crystal clear waters, beautiful flora and fauna, and most of all, good surf. In order to keep this state environmentally beautiful and safe, the Hawaiian government, in accordance with federal laws, must continue to uphold medical waste disposal regulations pertaining to the region. The regulatory agency mainly overseeing the process of medical waste management and disposal is the US Department of Health (DOH), State of Hawaii. Also, according to the hercenter.org, the state is one of 24 states working in accordance with federal regulations outlined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The Department of Health, in the document classified as “The Hawaii Rules for Management and Disposal of Infectious Waste”, defines infectious waste as the following: “any waste that may contain pathogens capable of causing an infectious disease….” The DOH further defines infectious waste to include, but is not exclusive to, the following:
  • Infectious isolation waste
  • Human pathological waste
  • Contaminated sharps (needles, syringes, surgical equipment, etc.)
  • Animal waste
  • Blood, blood products and other bodily fluids
Such infectious (medical) wastes are often generated by medical and healthcare facilities such as: hospitals, veterinary clinics, dentists, laboratories, etc., hence these facilities are often titled “generators”. These generators are subject to state and federal laws regarding the management and disposal of infectious [medical] waste, and are legally responsible for the entire process from storage and treatment to actual disposal. TREATMENT Prior to disposal, infectious medical waste is to be treated using the following state and federally approved methods:
  • Autoclaving
  • Incineration
  • Chemical disinfectants
The following infectious wastes are to be treated using the following methods, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the OSHA, and the Clinical Laboratory Standards Institute (CSLI)—non-exclusive listing:
  • Infectious Isolation waste – autoclaving, incineration
  • Blood, blood products, and bodily fluids – incineration, disinfection, sterilization
  • Contaminated sharps – incineration, disinfection, sterilization
  • Animal waste – incineration, disinfection, sterilization
STORAGE According the DOH, all untreated infectious waste must remain separate and apart from all other waste, including solid waste. They should then be stored in containers lined with red bags, often dubbed ‘red bag waste’, or into bags clearly marked with the Universal Biohazard Symbol. Sharps are to be stored into red, puncture-proof, non-leakage containers, or bags marked with the Universal Biohazard symbol. The storage area must be well ventilated and secure from animals and unauthorized personnel. TRANSPORTATION For untreated waste, the DOH recommends that these materials be placed in non-soluble red plastic bags, or bags clearly marked with the Universal Biohazard symbol. Reusable crates and containers, bins and other containment materials are to be thoroughly cleaned after each use and disinfected daily. Generally, the recommendations used to store infectious waste material are one and the same when it comes to transportation. However, untreated infectious waste must not be transported with non-infectious waste, unless total waste (both infectious and non-infectious) are to be treated and disposed of as infectious waste. For the State of Hawaii, medical waste transport vehicles are to display the Universal Biohazard symbol. RESOURCES For more information on medical waste management and disposal for the State of Hawaii, you can visit the following: