Biological Safety

Medical Waste

The regulations

Medical waste is handled according to the Medical Waste Management Act of California, California Health and Safety Code Sections 117600 - 118360, revised January 2017.
UC Santa Barbara has a Medical Waste Management Plan that conforms to federal and state regulations and University policies.The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) inspects UC Santa Barbara's medical waste program each spring.

Medical waste includes waste that is biohazardous or infectious to people. Biohazardous materials include infectious agents, samples or specimens known or suspected to be infectious, and human or primate primary cells, tissues or body fluids. 
Medical waste includes biohazardous, sharps, pathology, and trace chemotherapy and pharmaceutical waste that is not regulated by the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976. 

Well characterized cells transduced with replication incompetent, infectious viral vectors are considered medical waste.
Such cells may be derogated as non-medical waste after two (2) passages and transfer to a new tissue culture flask. 

Bags and Secondary Containers

Coming soon

Self-Inspection Checklist

Solid Waste: Biohazard Bags - Primary Container

All biohazard bags used for solid non-sharps waste must be RED in color, labeled with the word “BIOHAZARD” and the universal biohazard symbol (NO orange, clear, or black bags).
Bags containing biohazardous waste must always be in a labeled, rigid, secondary container with tight-fitting lids that are made of a smooth, cleanable material.
Biohazard bags are completely intact (e.g., no visible holes or waste penetrating the bag).
Red biohazard bags lining waste containers must fit appropriately inside the secondary container. Bags should not be too big or too small for the container.
Serological pipettes, or other non-sharp pointed objects, which can puncture the biohazard bags should be double bagged.
Biohazard bags are not used to cover equipment, or to store anything other than medical waste.
Biohazard bags are tied properly to prevent leakage or expulsion of contents (i.e., secured with an over-hand knot, gooseneck, zip tie, a twist tie, or nonporous tape).
Only solid wastes are discarded into the solid secondary waste containers to prevent liquid leakage. Liquids should be removed and decontaminated separately.
No sharps, pipettes, pipette tips or other biohazardous waste should be on the floors or bench tops.
Biohazard bags used within the facility must be certified by the manufacturer as having passed the impact resistance (ASTM D1709) tests.
For offsite transport, biohazard bags must be marked and certified by the manufacturer as having passed both the tear resistance (ASTM D1922) and impact resistance (ASTM D1709) tests.

Solid Waste: Biohazard Bins – Secondary Container

All biohazardous waste bags must be enclosed within a solid waste container that is: rigid, puncture resistant, leak resistant, composed of a smooth cleanable material, properly labeled with biohazard stickers on all visible sides, and tightly lidded.
Labels on biohazardous waste containers must display the universal biohazard symbol, labeled “BIOHAZARD”, be intact, nonporous, legible, and visible on the lid and from all lateral sides.
If a container is labeled biohazard it must be lined with a RED biohazard bag—even if it is empty.
Tight fitting lids must be secured on all biohazardous waste containers. These lids must be closed shut when you are not actively collecting waste.
Secondary containers must be intact, in proper working condition (no broken foot pedals) and sanitized after each use. No other items other than biohazard waste bags should be in the container (no absorbent pads, deodorizers).
No cardboard biohazardous waste containers are used, as these are not leak proof or cleanable.
No ring stands are used with red biohazard waste bags.
No items should ever be placed on top of the medical waste containers (e.g. notebook or Kimwipes).
Biohazard waste bags or containers are not overfilled to allow room for proper closure of the bags (typically <3/4 full).
Secondary containers which contain bags of Pathology Waste must be labeled to ensure proper segregation from waste containing Biohazards.
Waste is never removed, compacted, or packed-down before closing the bags.
RED biohazard bags containing medical waste are treated within 7 days from the day the bag is full.
Biohazard bags must be closed with a gooseneck or overhand knot prior to transport.
All biohazard waste containers must be in a secured location (locked rooms) where only authorized trained personnel are permitted (e.g., no unattended biohazardous waste left in public hallways, autoclave rooms, or deposited outside of an authorized accumulation site).

Liquid Biohazard Waste

Liquid wastes are collected in vessels and decontaminated with a chemical disinfectant with documented effectiveness against the agents in the waste prior to disposal (e.g., final 10% v/v bleach for >10 min).
Vacuum aspirator traps are equipped with inline HEPA filters to protect the vacuum line.
Liquid Biohazard Waste is not stored for > 7 days at room temperature.
Liquid Biohazard Waste is not disposed of in solid Medical Waste containers.
Ensure the final disposition of decontaminated Liquid Biohazard Wastes is dependent upon other chemicals or radioactive materials in the liquid. Bleach is permitted for sink disposal, but if any other chemical hazards, including pharmaceuticals, chemotherapy agents or chemical disinfectants other than bleach are used, liquids are disposed of via  EH&S Hazardous Waste.

All Sharps Waste

Any waste with acute rigid corners, edges or protuberances capable of cutting or piercing human skin must be discarded in a sharps waste container (e.g. needles, glass pipets, fine wires and broken glass).
RED biohazard sharps containers are not used for any purpose other than collection of biohazard sharps; no mixed wasted such as liquid, household, chemical, or radioactive material is permitted in a biohazard sharps container.
Red biohazard sharps containers are single use and unlined
Non-biohazard sharps containers are clearly marked as “non-biohazardous”, and all biohazard markings are either completely removed, covered or defaced.
Trace Chemotherapy and Pharmaceutical Sharps waste is segregated from biohazardous sharps waste.
Pharmaceutical wastes are not discarded as Biohazardous sharps, but in a Pharmaceutical Waste Container.
Sharps containers do not have sharps above the fill line (typically ~2/3 full).
No items are placed on top of the sharps containers.
Sharps containers are maintained in an upright position.
Sharps containers and lids must be completely intact, never cracked or broken (A smaller cracked container must be re-packaged inside a larger sharps container, if necessary).
When full, biohazardous sharps containers are taped shut, autoclaved and then picked up by EH&S Hazardous Waste or brought to the “Autoclaved Sharps Waste” accumulation site in Bio II room 4106, LSB room 2204, or LSB room 4218 where it is picked up without a request.

Pathology Waste

Any recognizable human tissues or infectious animal carcasses or tissues, fixed or unfixed, must be discarded in the pathology waste stream.
Tissues are collected in red biohazard bags in secondary containers labeled with “PATH” or “PATHOLOGY, INCINERATION ONLY”.
Fixed tissues or paraffin blocks should not emit organic chemical fumes in the medical waste containers.
All liquid fixatives or preservatives should be decanted and discarded through Chemical Hazardous waste. Only solid waste is discarded in the Pathology Waste bags.
Any PATH waste (human tissues or infectious animals carcasses/tissues) which are stored frozen (below 0°C) must not be retained >90 days from the start date of accumulation.

Trace Chemotherapy and Pharmaceutical Waste

Trace chemotherapeutic and pharmaceutical waste, other than RCRA hazardous waste or Controlled Substances, is disposed of through EH&S as chemical hazardous waste.
Residual solids and contaminated items (including sharps) are collected in a rigid, lidded container labeled with "CHEMO" on the Hazardous Waste container label.
Chemical hazardous waste label is complete and the accumulation start date is given.
Chemical hazardous waste is picked up by EH&S Hazardous Waste specialists within 270 days of the accumulation start date.

Medical Waste Transport

Prior to transport, bags are secured and closed inside the lab and then transported to the medical waste accumulation site inside properly labeled, rigid, secondary containers.
The transport container lid is secured shut and the exterior of the container must be decontaminated before leaving the lab.
All medical waste is transported in a clean, tightly lidded secondary container on a cart, i.e., never hand-carried or transported on open carts or bins.
The secondary transport container is rigid, puncture-proof, leak-resistant, and be labeled with the biohazard symbol and the word “BIOHAZARD” on the lid & all lateral sides.
Ensure all members of the laboratory are aware of these standard operating procedures. CDPH selects personnel for random quizzing each year.

Accumulation Site

At the accumulation site, bags containing biohazardous waste (but not pathology waste, trace chemo or pharma) are transferred into a container labeled “BIOHAZARD.”
At the accumulation site, bags containing Pathology waste are transferred to secondary container labeled “PATH” in the -20°C freezer.
Only Medical Waste (biohazard, biohazard sharps, pharma, pathology, trace chemo) is deposited in the accumulation site. No municipal, chemical/hazardous, radiation or mixed waste is permitted.
The accumulation site space, floors, and waste containers are clean/sanitary (not soiled). No evidence of spills, leakage or expulsion of material should be evident at the accumulation site.

Waste Treatment

  • Liquid medical waste may be chemically deactivated with an EPA-registered, tuberculocidal disinfectant and then discharged to the sewer system with an excess of water
  • Solid medical waste is treated in an autoclave registered with CDPH at ≥ 121°C and 15 psi for at least 30 minutes or taken away for treatment by a licensed medical waste hauler
  • Biohazardous sharps are autoclaved and picked up by the EH&S Hazardous Waste Program 
  • Trace chemotherapeutics and pharmaceuticals are sent out via the EH&S Hazardous Waste Program for incineration



Individuals generating and treating medical waste must be trained on the bloodborne pathogens regulations and medical waste treatment by autoclave. Please note, annual training on hands-on autolave use is conducted by the manager of the specific autoclave.

Please see the EH&S Training website for a current list of the in-person presentations on the bloodborne pathogens regulations and medical waste procedures. Presentations are also announced by email via the,,, and listservs. Subsequent training may be fulfilled online.

For questions, please contact the biosafety officer at 805.893.8894 or