In the development of cures and therapies to diseases, research must involve the disease-causing pathogen. Specimens may come from human, animal or in-situ hosts. Throughout the research process, biological specimens containing pathogenic material must not be released to the environment.


Biological waste is any material that contains or has been contaminated by a biohazardous agent. Biological or infectious waste can be defined in six categories:

  • Cultures and stocks of biological materials and the material used to contain, mix, or transfer agents. This includes but is not limited to petri dishes, pipettes, pipette tips, microtiter plates, disposable loops, eppendorfs, and centrifuge tubes.
  • Human blood, blood products, and infectious body fluids.
  • Sharps: needles, scalpel blades, hypodermic needles, syringes (with or without attached needles) and needles, scissors, and broken glass.
  • Research animal waste: contaminated carcasses, body parts and bedding of animals that were exposed to infectious agents during research or testing.
  • Any material collected during or resulting from the cleanup of a spill of infectious waste.
  • Any waste mixed with infectious waste that cannot be considered as chemical hazardous waste or radioactive waste.

Potentially Infectious Material is defined by the OHSA Bloodborne Pathogens Standard as:

  1. Human body fluids: semen, vaginal secretions, cerebrospinal fluid, synovial fluid, pleural fluid, pericadial fluid, peritoneal fluid, amniotic fluid, saliva in dental procedures, any body fluid that is visibly contaminated with blood, and all body fluids in situations where it is difficult or impossible to differentiate between body fluids.
  2. Any unfixed tissue or organ (other than intact skin) from a human (living or dead) including cell or tissue cultures.
  3. HIV-containing cell or tissue cultures, organ cultures and HIV- or HBV-containing culture medium or other solutions; and blood, organs, or other tissues from experimental animals infected with HIV or HBV.

USU Policy

As biological and pathogenic wastes are generated, they should be removed as soon as possible to a proper disposal method. The primary disposal/destruction method at USU is the use of an autoclave. This method is adequate when the specimens are small or involve surface contamination. The university has an incinerator for all large specimens at the Veterinary Diagnostics Laboratory. Those who do not have access to an autoclave or have materials that cannot be effectively destroyed in an autoclave should contact the EH&S Office. The EH&S Office can remove these materials and arrange for proper disposal.

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