Biological Safety

Medical Waste Management

The regulations:

In the state of California, medical waste is handled according to the Medical Waste Management Act, and certain jurisdictions are overseen and inspected by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). Medical waste includes any biohazardous, pathology, pharmaceutical, or trace chemotherapy waste not regulated by the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976, as amended; sharps and trace chemotherapy wastes generated in the diagnosis, treatment, immunization, or care of humans or animals; waste generated in research pertaining to the production or testing of microbiologicals; waste generated in research using human or animal pathogens. This definition is taken from the California Medical Waste Management Act, California Health and Safety Code Sections 117600 - 118360, revised January 2016.

Additional guidance and training documents from the California Department of Public Health

Options for waste treatment:

Medical waste must be treated prior to disposal. UCSB has a Medical Waste Management Plan that conforms to federal and state regulations and University policies.

  • Liquid medical waste may be chemically deactivated with an EPA-approved, tuberculocidal disinfectant and then discharged to the sewer system with an excess of water.
  • Solid medical waste must be
    1. Treated in an autoclave registered with CDPH at ≥ 121°C or ≥ 250°F, and 15 psi for at least 30 minutes or
    2. Taken away for treatment by a licensed medical waste hauler or
    3. Treated by a CDPH-approved method
  • Medical waste generated in campus vivaria is taken away by licensed medical waste hauler Medical Waste Environmental Engineers, Inc.


Post-doctoral researchers, graduate students and undergraduates generating medical waste are required to attend bloodborne pathogens training annually. This training covers medical waste deactivation and disposal. The presentation is scheduled quarterly on the fourth Thursday of January, April, July and October and it is advertised by email on the “Bio business” listserv. Subsequent training may be fulfilled online.

Researchers treating medical waste are required to attend an autoclave safety presentation and to obtain a hands-on demonstration before operating an autoclave.

Contact the biosafety officer at campus extension at 805.893.8894 with questions regarding medical waste.