Pathological Waste: Why Proper Pathological Waste Disposal Is Crucial



Not all pathological waste and medical waste is actually hazardous. Approximately 15 percent of all waste in healthcare settings falls under the classification of hazardous.

It is this 15 percent of waste that causes concern for environmentalists and state or federal health workers. Medical waste can release harmful pathogens that cause health issues and contaminate the water and soil.


A pathological waste disposal company can help healthcare facilities. They work at properly disposing of medical waste directly from your facility. These companies are critical for ensuring that humans, animals, and the environment stay healthy.

If you have an interest in learning more about pathological waste disposal, keep reading on for more information!

What Is Medical Waste?

Pathological waste falls under the classification of medical waste coming from humans or animals. It can also be classified as biohazardous medical waste. What does it include?

  • Organs

  • Tissues

  • Blood

  • Biopsies

  • Other body parts

Many industries in the healthcare field consistently deal with pathological waste. Some of the more common industries that require pathological waste disposal management include:

  • Hospitals

  • Outpatient physician offices

  • Veterinary clinics

  • Nursing homes

  • Laboratories

Proper waste disposal is essential for healthcare companies. It ensures that you eliminate any public health risks or hazards. Pathological waste differs from other waste like sharps, infectious, and pharmaceuticals.


Sharps are syringes or needles and typically require disposal in a sharps container. Infectious waste includes any items that were contaminated with pathological waste. Some examples of this are bandages or diagnostic samples.


Lastly, pharmaceutical waste is any drugs or vaccines that expire or are not used promptly. These types of waste have their risks with exposure and require a healthcare waste management team.

Improper Waste Disposal

What are some of the risks associated with improperly disposing of medical waste? Improper waste can affect two different areas: humans and the environment.

Human exposure to improper waste can come in the forms of:

  • Airborne

  • Parasitic

  • Skin reactions

  • Infections

When waste is disposed of in landfills improperly, it can also cause dangerous consequences for the environment. Medical waste can affect the soil, air, and water.


Ultimately, burning waste can release harmful airborne pathogens. In return, these airborne pathogens can negatively affect the ozone layer. In landfills, this waste can leak into the soil and contaminate grazing areas for animals or impact drinking water.


Along with health concerns, if you do not dispose of it properly, you run the risk of accruing fines. State laws may also differ, so it is important to have employee training on proper labeling, storage, and disposal of pathogenic waste.


Some fines can quickly increase in tens of thousands of dollars if you do not closely follow federal and state laws. Waste management businesses can mitigate disposal. However, facilities still maintain the storage and labeling aspect of waste.

Healthcare Waste Management

How do healthcare facilities manage pathological waste disposal? There are a few steps to this process. First, healthcare workers must adequately contain the waste.


You can do this by placing most medical waste in single-leak biohazard bags. If the bag becomes ripped, punctured, or contaminated on the outside, you must put it within another single-leak bag.


Keep in mind - sharps are a different form of waste and require a sharps disposal container versus a standardized bag. Some diseases are more contagious airborne.

When this situation occurs, there may need to be different measures implemented. Next, medical waste is often transported away from the facility.


It should be labeled accordingly. Additionally, ensure the bags or containers are leak-proof and not tampered with.

Pathological Waste

Regulation of pathological waste disposal falls under state and national health departments. Environmental departments also play a large role in waste management.


Those departments mainly include the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). It also incorporates the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). There are a few different ways of proper disposal. Before 1997, most wastes were incinerated.


Unfortunately, direct incineration without treatment caused a lot of problems. Namely, the two main concerns were human health and air quality.


Now, incineration is not considered proper waste disposal. Most ways that pathological waste is now disposed of is through:

  • Thermal treatments

  • Electropyrolysis

  • Chemical systems

  • Steam sterilization

Once pathological waste goes through some of these treatments, it renders them non-infectious. At this point, pathological waste can now be disposed of in landfills safely.


You can also use incinerators, but pathological waste must first be treated through one of the four steps listed above. The United States Environmental Protection Agency regulates waste disposal techniques. They ensure that infectious agents are reduced to a safe enough number before being dumped in landfills.

Autoclave Disposal

Some waste management facilities are able to come to your on-site facility and gather medical waste. Typically, the treatment and disposal process includes an autoclave.


Autoclaves are machinery designed for decontaminating medical waste. It uses high pressure, water, and temperature to eliminate pathogens. When these machines reach high temperatures, it generates steam.


The steam is what kills off many different types of microorganisms or spores.

Find Your Waste Management Company

The right healthcare waste management company can save you time, money, and avoid hefty fines. Proper pathological waste disposal is critical for ensuring a healthy work environment.


It also avoids spreading bacteria and airborne pathogens in the air, soil, or water. Take the extra time by training your staff for proper handling of waste. Next, find a qualified medical waste disposal company, which can ultimately make a difference in your facility.

Don't look any further. Contact us today for a waste management service quote. Take the following steps of making sure your healthcare facility is following proper guidelines.


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