Regulated Medical Waste Management

Regulated Medical Waste (RMW) is material that may be contaminated with blood, bodily fluids, or other infectious materials, as well as sharps.  RMW may also be referred to as “biohazardous” or “infectious waste”.  RMW must be properly handled, collected, segregated, packaged, stored, labeled, transported and disposed of in order to minimize the risk of transmitting infection or endangering human health.  RMW must be collected in rigid containers lined with red bags imprinted with the infectious waste biohazard symbol and the address of the University.  Any sharps (used or unused) that may puncture a red bag must be deposited in a sharps disposal container. Liquid RMW (including blood, tissue culture media and bacterial cultures) can undergo drain disposal following chemical decontamination with bleach. Some types of solid RMW (including cultures of human disease-causing infectious agents) must be decontaminated by autoclaving on-site prior to entering the RMW-stream.

RMW regulations are established by The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), The New York State Departments of Health (NYS-DOH) and Environmental Conservation (NYS-DEC), the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and US Department of Transportation (DOT). In some cases, University policy is more stringent than what the law requires.

Consult the University’s Regulated Medical Waste Management Plan for specific information regarding management of biological agents and RMW on each Columbia University campus.