Understanding federal, state and local medical waste laws and regulations is key to operating a proficient healthcare business or facility.
Three federal acts set the stage for today’s medical waste laws — the Pharmaceutical Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, the Solid Waste Disposal Act of 1965, and the Medical Waste Tracking Act of 1988.
Additionally, several state regulated laws exist to monitor the creation and disposal of medical waste.
Pharmaceutical Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)
More than thirty years ago the RCRA was enacted to protect human health and the environment from potentially hazardous waste disposal methods. The RCRA amended the Solid Waste Disposal Act of 1965 and set national goals for reducing the amount of waste generated.
Solid Waste Disposal Act of 1965
Known as one of the first federal efforts to improve waste disposal technology, the Solid Waste Disposal Act was passed in 1965. Within this act, the Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendment passed in 1984, adding more stringent laws on hazardous waste management.
Medical Waste Tracking Act of 1988
The Medical Waste Tracking Act of 1988 was designed primarily to monitor the treatment of biohazard waste and sharps waste through their creation, transportation, and final disposal. The Medical Waste Tracking Act prompted Congress to approve the bill to amend the Solid Waste Disposal Act.
State Medical Waste Laws and Regulations
Although the Federal Government—EPA and DOT—provide some oversight of regulating medical waste disposal, the majority of biohazard medical waste is regulated at the state level. OSHA requirements become largely monitored and regulated by each state.
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