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Medical Waste

Definition of Infectious Medical Waste
Managing Infectious Medical Wastes
OSHA Regulations
Statutes, Regulations and Guidelines
More Information


Definition of Medical Waste

Nevada has adopted the US Dept. Of Transportation definition for regulated medical waste found in (49 CFR Part 173). Regulated medical waste means a waste or reusable material known to contain or suspected of containing an infectious substance in Risk Group 2 or 3 and generated in the diagnosis, treatment, or immunization of human beings or animals; research on the diagnosis, treatment or immunization of human beings or animals; or the production or testing of biological products. Where, Risk group means a ranking of a micro-organism's ability to cause injury through disease. A risk group is defined by criteria developed by the World Health Organization (WHO) based on the severity of the disease caused by the organism, the mode and relative ease of transmission, the degree of risk to both an individual and a community, and the reversibility of the disease through the availability of known and effective preventative agents and treatment.

Managing Medical Wastes

Nevada Division of Environmental Protection states that if medical waste has been treated by incineration, autoclaving or an alternative method approved by the solid waste management authority, it can be managed as ordinary solid waste with no special requirements. Special requirements apply to the storage, collection, labeling, transporting and disposal of regulated medical waste. Nevada regulations allow the direct disposal by landfilling of untreated medical waste.

There are services throughout the state for the collection and disposal of medical waste generated in healthcare and veterinary facilities. Services for home-generated medical waste sharps are not prevalent, however.

According to the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection, there are two basic ways of managing medical waste that can protect workers and the public from disease transmission: 1) treatment to render the waste non-infectious, or 2) segregation to prevent exposure. Nevada regulations do not require treatment of medical waste. Disposal in a permitted landfill according to approved practices is acceptable. However, until the waste had been either treated or disposed, it must be stored and collected according to the requirements of Nevada Administrative Code (NAC) 444.662. The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has adopted regulations to limit workers' occupational exposure to blood and other body fluids which may pose a risk of infection by bloodborne pathogens. These rules are discussed below.

Storage, Collection and Disposal Regulations

The Nevada Administrative Code (NAC) contains the following regulations concerning the storage, collection, and disposal of medical waste:

  • Medical wastes must be stored in watertight, tightly covered and clearly labeled containers that are resistant to corrosion and are in a safe location, inaccessible to the public.
  • Medical wastes must not be deposited in containers with other solid wastes.
  • Medical wastes must be transported separately from other solid wastes to an approved disposal site and handled in accordance with a method approved by the solid waste management authority.
  • Medical wastes may be deposited at a disposal site only if provisions for such disposal are included in the operational plan and approved by the solid waste management authority.

OSHA Regulations

In addition to the state medical waste environmental regulations there are some Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rules that apply to medical/infectious waste. Nevada is one of 24 states operating an approved occupational safety and health program. This program is operated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA rules (Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens Standards) impact various aspects of medical/infectious waste, including management of sharps, requirements for containers that hold or store medical/infectious waste, labeling of medical/infectious waste bags/containers, and employee training. These requirements can be found in the VetCA section entitled OSHA Standards for Regulated Waste.

Statutes, Regulations and Guidelines

Nevada Administrative Code Chapter 444 Containing NAC 444.570 to 444.7499 Solid Waste Disposal


State of Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Division of Environmental Protection

NDEP Solid Waste Branch (General) 775-687-9462

NDEP Solid Waste Branch (RMW contact - Les Gould) 775-687-9468

Nevada State Health Division

Occupational Safety and Health Administration

Clark County Health District (702) 383-1275

Washoe County District Health Department (775) 328-2434

Nevada Division of Industrial Relations, Safety Consultation and Training Section (775) 688-1474 (for information concerning OSHA Boodborne Pathogens rule)

More Information

Nevada's Solid Waste Management Plan

Solid Waste Fact Sheet: Collection and Disposal of Medical Waste

Nevada Division of Environmental Protection: Management of Medical Waste


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