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Biological Waste

Waste contaminated with biological agents, and all sharps, whether contaminated or not.


  • Microbiological cultures
  • Human Cell Cultures
  • Human blood and blood products
  • All contaminated disposable labware (culture dishes, pipet tips, tubes)
  • Clinical specimens (human blood, other potentially infectious materials)
  • All needles and syringes

Biological waste (except "sharps") that has been autoclaved can be disposed as General Waste in the building's dumpster. However, autoclaved waste in bags with biohazardous markings or labels placed in the building's dumpster for disposal create disposal problems.

Before disposing of autoclaved waste into the building's dumpster, ensure no biohazardous markings or labels are visible. Autoclave material should be placed in an opaque plastic bag for General Waste disposal.

Do not autoclave chemical or radioactive wastes, nor place chemical or radioactive wastes in the biohazardous "burn boxes."

Non-radioactive decontaminated liquids should be flushed down the drain with copious amounts of water.

Avoid contaminating the outside of the "burn box" to protect personnel handling boxes from being exposed to infectious agents.

Packaging Guidelines
If Disposing: Then:

"Sharps" (needles, syringes, scalpel blades, etc.)
  1. Place intact "sharps," whether contaminated or not, in a puncture resistant "sharps" container. The containers can be purchased from the Chemistry Stores or laboratory safety equipment vendors.
  2. Do not recap, bend, remove, or clip needles.
  3. Fill 3/4 full, snap the lid closed and secure with tape. Overfilling or forced filling may result in puncture wounds. Do Not Overfill.
  4. Complete a Biological Removal Request Form via the UMD Regulated Waste Pick-Up System.

Non-Sharp Solid Waste for Autoclave
  1. Collect non-sharp solid biological waste in autoclavable bags. It is preferable that autoclave bags be white or clear (not red or orange) and without the word "biohazardous" or the universal symbol for biohazardous material.
  2. Place filled bags into the autoclave pan for transport from the laboratory to the autoclave.
  3. Add 250 mL of water to the bag and close loosely to allow the steam to escape and air to enter.
  4. Autoclave the pan and bag at 121°C for one hour.
  5. Allow the pan and autoclaved material to cool.
  6. Put autoclaved bags into trash cans lined with heavyweight, opaque plastic bags, and then transport them to the building dumpster.

Non-Sharp Solid Waste for Incineration
  1. Place the waste material in a plastic liner inside a biohazardous waste box ("burn box") supplied by ESSR. Double bag wet material with absorbent material in the inner bag.
  2. Twist the plastic bag(s) at the top; bend the twisted portion to form a loop and seal with tape. Seal bags individually when double bagging.
  3. Secure the burn box with tape.
  4. Complete a Biological Removal Request Form via the UMD Regulated Waste Pick-up System, located at
  5. Indicate the unique tracking number, assigned by the Regulated Waste Pick-up System, on the container to be removed and disposed.

Contaminated Glass and Pasteur Pipets Contaminated glass may be treated by one of the following two methods:
  1. Decontaminate the glass by autoclaving, or by soaking in 10% bleach for 30 minutes, then place in sturdy cardboard box, tape closed, and put the box in the building dumpster; or,
  2. Contaminated glass may be discarded into a sharps container and handled according to the instructions for "Sharps."

Liquid Wastes
  1. As a general rule, add household bleach to a final concentration of 10%, wait 30 minutes, then rinse down the sink with copious amounts of water.
  2. Alternatively, a disinfectant that is known to be effective against the organism may be added to an appropriate concentration, wait 30 minutes, then rinse down the sink with copious amounts of water.

Animal Carcasses
  1. Place animal carcasses/tissues into a plastic bag. Double bag all carcasses when zoonotic agents are present.
  2. Place bag in freezer until removal.
  3. Disposal of animal carcasses/tissues is coordinated through the Central Animal Resource Facility (CARF). Contact CARF (301) 405-4921 for removal and disposal.

Environmental Safety, Sustainability and Risk 53960
Central Animal Resource Facility (CARF) 54921

Biological Waste
Assistance (301) 405-3990