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Chapter 5: Biohazard Waste

West Virginia University has specific procedures developed for the safe collection, storage, transportation, and disposal of biohazard waste. The procedures are compliant with West Virginia’s Infectious Medical Waste Rule (64 CSR 56).


1.1. Biohazards: Any biological agent that has the potential to cause harm to people, animals, plants, or the environment. Also referred to as Infectious Materials.

1.2. Biohazardous Waste: also called infectious waste, is waste contaminated with potentially infectious materials or biohazards. This includes some types of lab and biomedical waste.

1.3. Infectious Materials: See Biohazards.

1.4. Infectious Medical Waste: As defined by the West Virginia Infectious Medical Waste Rule (64 CSR 56), medical waste which is capable of producing an infectious disease. Medical waste shall be considered capable of producing an infectious disease if it has been, or is likely to have been, contaminated by an organism likely to be pathogenic to healthy humans, if such organism is not routinely and freely available in the community, and such organism has a significant probability of being present in sufficient quantities and with sufficient virulence to transmit disease. Includes the following materials: .

  • Cultures and stock of microorganisms (Risk group 2 and higher)
  • Human Blood and tissue samples (including cell lines)
  • Recombinant nucleic acids requiring BSL2 or higher containment (including transgenic animals)
  • Unfixed pathological wastes
  • Sharps
  • Contaminated animal carcasses, body parts, bedding and related wastes


2.1. Sharps Waste

Sharps waste includes any object that could readily puncture or lacerate the skin. Common examples of sharps encountered in the research setting include:
  • hypodermic syringes
  • razor blades
  • suture needles
  • scalpels
  • lancets (fingerstick devices)
  • broken glass
  • glass pipettes
  • IV catheters

Sharps Collection
  • All sharps must be placed in a biohazard sharps container.
  • Biohazard sharps container must be an approved, puncture-resistant sharps container bearing the universal biohazard symbol.
  • Some examples of approved sharps containers include:
  • Approved sharps containers


  • Sharps containers must be kept in the immediate vicinity of the sharps usage.
  • Syringes and needles must not be recapped prior to placing in sharps container.
  • Sharps must be placed sharp-end first into the container so no sharps are sticking towards the opening.
  • Sharps containers must not be overfilled.
  • Non-sharp waste (wrappers, paper towels, gloves, etc.) should not be placed in the sharps container.

Sharps Disposal
  • Once filled, close the lid on the sharps container, apply tape over the lid area, and place into solid biohazard waste container.
  • Sharps containers must never be emptied and reused.

2.2. Solid Biohazard Waste

Solid biohazard waste includes any solid object that came in contact, or potentially contacted, infectious material.

Common examples of solid biohazard waste encountered in the laboratory setting include:
  • Pipettes
  • Culture plates
  • Human-derived solid material (tissue, bone, tumor, etc.)
  • Closed tubes or vials; with or without small amounts of liquid waste (less than approximately 15ml)
  • Gloves, disposable gowns, or other PPE
  • Paper towel or other material used to clean up infectious materials

West Virginia University has two designations of solid biohazardous waste: Infections Medical Waste and Low-Risk Biohazardous Materials.

Infectious Medical Waste includes the following:

Waste that is or has the potential to be contaminated by a biohazard likely to be pathogenic to healthy humans.
  • Risk Group 2 or higher bacteria and viruses
  • Human blood or tissue samples
  • Recombinant DNA requiring BSL2 or higher containment (Including transgenic animals)

Low-Risk Biohazardous Materials includes the following: Waste that is biohazardous but is not likely to cause disease in healthy humans.
  • Risk Group 1 bacteria and viruses
  • Human and mammalian cell lines
  • Recombinant DNA requiring BSL1 containment (Including transgenic plants and animals)
  • Genetically modified or wild type plants/fungi requiring BSL2 containment but do not cause disease in healthy humans.
  • Non-human blood/tissue samples handled at BSL1

The preferred method of solid biohazard waste collection and disposal for both Infectious Medical Waste and Low-Risk Biohazards is through an outside disposal company. WVU has contracted Stericycle for solid biohazard waste disposal.

Alternatively, solid biohazard waste may be collected and autoclaved in-house. You must contact the Biosafety Officer for approval to treat and dispose of biohazards in-house.

Solid Biohazard Waste Collection

The solid biohazard waste collection procedure is applicable for both infectious medical waste and low-risk biohazardous materials.

Collection For Outside Disposal (preferred method):

  • Solid biohazard waste must be collected in a red biohazard bag placed in a Stericycle box.
  • The box must be denoted with the universal biohazard symbol.
  • An example of a properly setup collection station is below. (The lid and tote dolly are optional.

                Biohazard box properly setup

Collection for In-House Autoclaving

  • Solid biohazard waste for autoclaving must be collected and stored in an orange biohazard waste bag.
    • Orange bags are required per 64 CSR 56, WV Infectious Medical Waste Rule.
  • Orange biohazard bags should be kept within a biohazard waste container (see examples below), preferably with a foot operated, self-closing lid.

                Biohazard waste containers with lid

Solid Biohazard Waste Treatment and Disposal

Outside Disposal (preferred method):

For Infectious Medical Waste:
  • Waste container boxes must not be overfilled.
    • Only fill until 3/4ths full
    • Box weight must not exceed 50 lbs.
  • Once filled, tie the red bag shut and tape the box closed.
  • At Health Sciences Center: Contact Facilities Management (x34115) to schedule either routine weekly pickup, or a one-time pickup.
    • HSC pickup typically occurs Tuesday morning.
  • All other campus locations: Contact the Biosafety Officer or your Chemical Hygiene Officer for disposal guidance.

In-House Autoclaving Disposal

For Infectious Medical Waste: follow the following steps:

The following requirements are only for waste that is going to be autoclaved and then disposed of in a sanitary landfill. There are no requirements for waste that is autoclaved and then disposed of as infectious medical waste through an outside disposal company.
  • The autoclave must be operated at or above the following approved temperature, pressure, and time settings: (Additional settings may be used, but the ability to sterilize must be verified and documented.)

Temperature (° F)
Pressure (psi) Time (minutes)
250 15 90
270 32 30
272 27 45

  • Each Load must have a piece of temperature sensitive tape attached. At the end of the cycle if the tape has not changed color, this load has not been sterilized and needs re-run. If the second cycle fails to change the color of the tape, the autoclave will need to be examined for problems.
  • Bags must be loosely closed with a knot or twist tie. Bags should not be closed tightly or opened completely.
  • A log book must be used to document the following information for each load:
    • Date, time, person operating the autoclave
    • Type and amount of waste (waste going to the landfill after treatment must list pre-treatment weight)
    • Post-treatment result from the temperature-sensitive tape
    • Dates and results of spore testing
  • For disposal into a sanitary landfill, the autoclaved biohazard bag should be weighed and placed inside a black trash bag. A label (at least 3” x 5”) should be attached to each treated bag listing:
    • Name, address, telephone, and fax numbers of the facility
    • Weight of the treated noninfectious medical waste
    • The type of treatment process that was used to render the waste non-infectious
    • A signed and dated certification which states: “I hereby certify under penalty of law that this waste has been rendered noninfectious in accordance with procedures required by the West Virginia Infectious Medical Waste Rule, 64 CSR 56.”

For Low Risk Biohazardous Materials perform the following steps:

Outside Disposal (preferred method): Follow the same procedure for Outside Disposal of Infectious Medical Waste.

In-House Autoclaving Disposal Follow the same procedure for Outside Disposal of Infectious Medical Waste, with the following exception:
  • For Low-Risk Biohazardous Material it is not necessary to weigh the waste or label it after completion of autoclaving.

2.3. Liquid Biohazard Waste

Liquid biohazard waste is any liquid or fluid, over approximately 15ml, which potentially contains an infectious agent or biohazard. Some common examples of biohazard liquid waste includes cell culture media, microorganism suspensions, incubated microbiological broths, human blood, and human body fluids.

Liquid Waste Collection
  • Liquid waste must be collected and stored in a suitable container with lid.
  • The lid must be kept closed when not in use.
  • The container must be labeled appropriately and include:
    • Waste type (hazardous, special, non-hazardous)
    • Specific components of waste (culture media, broth name, chemicals, etc.)

Liquid Biohazard Waste Treatment and Disposal

Liquid biohazard waste may be treated either by autoclaving or chemical inactivation.
  • Autoclaving
    • Verify that the composition of the liquid waste is compatible with the autoclave and will not corrode the equipment or contains hazardous chemicals. Never autoclave liquid waste containing bleach.
  • Chemical Inactivation
    • Treat the liquid biohazard waste with household bleach at a 1:10 (v/v) dilution of bleach to liquid waste.
    • A minimum of 30 minutes of contact time with the bleach is required.

Following autoclaving or chemical inactivation:
  • Non-hazardous waste may be disposed of down the drain.
  • Hazardous waste, or other waste types, must be disposed of through the appropriate waste stream.


3.1. West Virginia Infectious Medical Waste Rule (64 CSR 56)

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Revised by


Initial version

Matt Stinoski