When it comes to tension in life, there’s both good and not-so-good.

Waiting to see if Astro’s pitcher Lance McCullers will throw his crazy grip curve ball (I can’t even get my fingers to go like that, let alone throw a ball) and the anticipation in wondering if JD will pull it into the left field bleachers…that’s the good kind.

Finding a needle, even if unused, in the garbage…not so good.

Following a major-IV chord with the minor-IV instead of resolving to the expected major-I chord (sorry…had a buncha years of music theory that I was really looking to use)…good tension.

Finding out that a bottle of blue gloop was dumped down the drain, putting hospital staff and the environment at risk…not so good.

So, because hazardous materials are a fact of life at UHN, used for things like diagnosing (lab reagents), treating (drugs), researching, cleaning and maintaining our buildings, UHN has developed policies, procedures, posters and other tools to help keep the tension positive.  Below is a quick refresher, but please visit the Energy & Environment intranet page for more information…and don’t hesitate get in touch with any questions.

Biomedical Waste

Biomedical Waste includes sharps, blood, body fluids (but not urine or feces unless they have visible blood), anatomical waste and cytotoxic waste…and is disposed of in either red or yellow bags or sharps containers.

  • Yellow is for waste that is autoclaved, including blood and body fluids.  And, despite being “icky” (technical term used by environmental types), diapers, urine and feces can be disposed of as regular waste unless there is visible blood present.  General isolation room waste (e.g., gowns, non-bloody items, etc.) can also be disposed of as regular waste.
  • Red is for waste that is sent for incineration, which is actually less than 25% of UHN’s biomedical waste, and includes:
    • Cytotoxic waste (which needs to be labelled as such).
    • Anatomical waste (which really should only be disposed of by Pathology or Research).
    • “Infectious” waste (which are things exposed to the really nasty, nasty stuff – think CJD and Ebola – and not things exposed to the likes of C.Diff, HIV, MRSA or hepatitis).

Chemical Waste

Chemical Waste includes lab reagents, cleaning chemicals, disinfectants, maintenance supplies, mercury (including mercury in fluorescent lightbulbs) and that bottle of blue gloop found in that drawer not opened since the last millennium.

  • Research and LMP have their own procedures for safely disposing of chemical waste.
  • Everyone else… get in touch.  Doesn’t get much easier, eh?

Pharmaceutical Waste

For simplicity, Pharmaceutical Waste includes everything from left over anesthetic reagents, antibiotics, and narcotics, through to throat lozenges and aspirin.

  •  All pharmaceutical waste should be disposed of in blue and white “Rx” bins, which come in several sizes and safety-lid configurations.
  • For reasons known only to the government, cytotoxic medications and waste are considered to be biomedical waste for incineration and should be disposed of as such (see above).
  • Narcotics, being what they are, need to be appropriately rendered un-usable while being witnessed.

So here’s to more curveballs and music in life…and less tension of the hazardous waste kind.  And, of course, if you have any questions, comments, concerns or ideas, please get in touch.