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Biosafety Page


Biological and Medical Waste Disposal

Biohazardous Waste (Regulated Medical Waste)

Some wastes associated with biological materials must be disposed of in special ways because they may have been contaminated with infectious organisms or agents. These potentially infectious or biohazardous materials are defined by NJ regulations as Regulated Medical Waste. These wastes include the following:

    • All sharps, e.g. glass implements, needles, syringes, blades, etc. coming from facilities using infectious materials
    • Biologically-cultured stocks and plates, human blood or tissues

For disposal of these wastes, the lab personnel:

  1. Sterilize or disinfect waste materials associated with viral, bacterial or other agents infectious to humans (by autoclave or chemical treatment equivalent to 1:10 bleach solution).
  2. Place all biohazardous wastes, except for sharps, directly into the red bag-lined medical waste boxes provided by Building Services.
  3. Place sharps into labeled sharps containers which when filled are placed into the medical waste box.
  4. When the Medical Waste box is filled, seal the bag liner and box and notify janitor for pick-up.

    IMPORTANT LABELLING REQUIREMENT: Lab personnel must apply an adhesive-backed label completed with generator information to each bag or container (such as autoclaved bags or filled sharps containers) placed into the medical waste box. Building Services provides such a label that has space to record Date, Building, Lab #, and Contact Person. Apply this label to all containers placed inside the medical waste box AND to the exterior of the sealed medical waste box before it is made available for pick-up by Building Services. Alternatively, the inner bags and containers can be marked clearly with a permanent marker to indicate "Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey."

  5. Where pick-ups are infrequent or limited, contact Building Services to arrange for pick-up.

Other wastes generated in these facilities that are not contaminated with biological agents or materials are not treated as biohazardous and may be discarded in the regular trash container, with recyclables, or into other specially designated waste containers. These include such items as recyclable and non-recyclable waste glass, gloves, unused plates or tubes, fly media or embryo plates, etc.

In order to clarify how these various wastes are to be handled in laboratories using biological materials, the waste stream chart has been developed and put into use for all departments generating research waste. It is intended for laboratories using biological and/or chemical materials.

Choose the waste model that most clearly fits the waste being generated and follow the indicated management procedures. Call the Biosafety Officer or Chemical Program Manager at 8-5294 for clarification. These charts are also available in printable pdf format (Molecular Biology or Other). Laminated copies can be ordered through the Biosafety Officer.

Animal Bedding Waste

Animal bedding waste that has been exposed to biosafety level 2 agents is autoclaved prior to disposal or, if an autoclave is not available in the animal facility, is packaged as infectious waste in cardboard fiber drums or boxes by Laboratory Animal Resources (LAR) staff.

Any container of bedding that is labeled as infectious waste is closed by LAR staff to prevent spills or leakage.  Containers of infectious waste are picked up by Building Services and transported to a weather-protected shelter for holding until they are picked up by the University’s infectious waste vendor, for incineration.  Spills from containers of animal bedding labeled as infectious waste are to be cleaned up by LAR staff.

Animal bedding that has not been labeled as infectious is bagged and collected for disposal by LAR staff.  After bagging the waste, it is placed into gray carts for movement by LAR staff to the pick-up location.  This waste is picked up by Princeton University Building Services personnel and is not to be mixed with other waste. Bags are filled only to a depth and weight that will allow for effective tying of the bag by animal facility staff and for ease of handling by one person. For example, several partially-filled bags should be tied and placed in the gray carts rather than one or two full bags (bag weight should not exceed 40 pounds). This will help to prevent repetitive motion injury to staff and prevent bags from being ripped open while being handled.

The carts are maintained clean and in sanitary condition by the animal facility staff. Any spills of (non-infectious) bedding when loading the truck are cleaned up by the Building Services trash crew.

Animal Carcasses

Freezers are provided in each animal facility for storage of carcasses that have been bagged and sealed. All animal carcasses that have been exposed to biosafety level 2 agents are placed into an infectious waste bag. All carcasses are packed and incinerated as infectious waste through a licensed, contracted firm.

Freezers are cleaned and defrosted as necessary by animal laboratory personnel to keep them in a sanitary condition.

Patient Care Waste Disposal

All disposable wastes generated at McCosh Health Center from patient rooms and as part of direct patient care are considered potentially infectious and are disposed of in the medical waste stream. Syringes, needles, and other sharps are placed in the provided sharps container which, when filled and sealed are placed in the provided medical waste box. When boxes are filled and sealed, they are removed by the custodial staff outside to the locked storage shed for later pick-up by Building Services.

Patient care waste generated at other sites on campus by medical response personnel (i.e. Public Safety) are placed in biohazard bags and brought to McCosh Health Center for medical waste disposal or handled by responding EMS personnel.

A program is in place to ensure that needles and syringes generated as part of personal diabetes care will not be an exposure hazard to others. Collection containers are available from McCosh Health Center which, when filled, are returned to Health Center for proper disposal in the medical waste stream.


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