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Ask the Experts Q & A

Q: Do cotton balls or bandages with only a drop of blood need to go in the biohazardous waste bag? How about used exam gloves?

A: None of these items need to be disposed in a biohazardous waste bag. OSHA's criteria for "regulated" waste includes only items that are contaminated with enough blood or other potentially infectious body fluid such that it would drip when compressed or squeezed. Some medical offices, however, exceed OSHA's requirements and choose to put any item that is contaminated with any amount of blood or potentially infectious body fluid into the biohazardous waste. While this practice is easier for staff to follow, it also is an expensive option because of excess biohazardous waste pickup. Whichever criteria you choose to adopt in your office, be sure that your biohazardous waste practices are exactly as specified in your current OSHA manual.

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