All Points Medical Waste Blog

Chemotherapy Waste

Managing it safely and in compliance

Just like all medical waste, there are specific requirements, safety procedures and compliance issues related to Chemotherapy waste. For clinics, treatments centers and other healthcare providers, it’s critical to maintain safe practices when providing chemotherapy to patients to ensure that any waste is disposed of properly—read on to learn more.

Medical or Hazardous?

Before you dispose of any waste resulting from chemo treatments, it’s necessary to determine what kind of waste it is. It can be confusing since chemo is a medical treatment as well as a hazardous material. Chemotherapy drugs and all associated materials are highly regulated by state and federal agencies and because of this, each drug used in these types of treatments are classified into different categories—this classification can assist you in determining exactly what kind of waste you’re dealing with and how to manage disposal.

According to the Federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) there are nine categories of chemo drugs that should be managed as hazardous waste pharmaceuticals:

  • Trisenox or (generic) Arsenic Trioxide
  • Leukeran (generic) Chlorambucil
  • Cytoxan, Neosar (generic) Cyclophosphamide
  • Daunorubicin, Cerubidin, DaunoXome, Rubidomycin (generic) Daunomycin
  • DES, Stilphostrol (generic) Diethystilbestrol
  • Alkeran, L-PAM (generic) Melphalan
  • Mitomycin, Mutamycin (generic) Mitomycin C
  • Streptozocin, Zanosar (generic) Streptozotocin
  • Uramustine (generic) Uracil Mustard

Because of their classification, these drugs must be disposed of according to regulations for hazardous waste pharmaceuticals.

Bulk versus trace—what’s the difference?

Most healthcare facilities and treatment centers generate both bulk and trace chemotherapy waste and therefore it’s important to be aware of the differences and how to dispose of them safely to ensure your staff, patients and anyone else in your facility is protected from contamination. Here’s a brief description of the differences:

Trace chemotherapy waste is defined as any drug, vial or other item that has only residual amounts remaining. To be defined as trace, the item must contain less than 3 percent by weight, items include vials, empty IV bags, syringes, etc. This percentage can vary by state and local legislation so make certain you are aware of your state’s definition of trace before disposing of any items resulting from or used in the process of administering chemotherapy.

Bulk chemo waste is defined as any chemotherapy drugs or materials used in the process of administering treatment that are not considered empty. These can be unused medications, vials, tubing and syringes, as well as materials used to clean up spills and gloves, gowns and masks used by healthcare professionals.

Proper disposal

As with other hazardous and medical waste materials, following best practices when it comes to disposal of chemo waste is key. Waste containers designed for chemotherapy can be obtained from your medical waste provider and can be picked up and safely disposed off on a regular basis—depending on your needs. Providers that offer chemotherapy waste services will have pails and sharps containers that can be placed in your treatment facility according to compliance regulations.

For more information about chemotherapy waste or other medical or hazardous waste disposal, get in touch with us at 772.600.4885. We’re a locally owned and operated company that serves the Treasure Coast, Palm Beach and Broward County.

Dawn Connelly

Dawn is the vice president of All Points Medical Waste. All Points Medical Waste is a family-owned and operated medical waste disposal and compliance company that has been serving the Treasure Coast, Palm Beaches, and surrounding areas since 1994.
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