Biological Safety

Medical Waste Management

The annual medical waste inspection by the California Department of Public Health has yet to be scheduled for 2021. 

The regulations:

In the state of California, medical waste is handled according to the Medical Waste Management Act. The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) inspects UC Santa Barbara's medical waste program each spring.

Medical waste includes any biohazardous, pathology, pharmaceutical, or trace chemotherapy waste that is not regulated by the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976; 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 2017.

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. 

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

Medical Waste Self-Inspection Checklist

Solid Medical Waste Containment


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.
  • Biohazardous sharps are autoclaved and picked up by the EH&S Hazardous Waste Program
  • Solid medical waste must be
    1. Treated in an autoclave registered with CDPH at ≥ 121°C and 15 psi for at least 30 minutes or
    2. Taken away for treatment by a licensed medical waste hauler



Individuals generating and treating medical waste must be trained on the bloodborne pathogens regulations and autoclave.

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

Annual training on autolave use for the treatment of medical waste is conducted by the manager for the specific autoclave.

For questions, please contact the biosafety officer at 805.893.8894 or