California Medical Waste Disposal Regulations

California Medical Waste Disposal Regulations


What You Need to Know About California Medical Waste Disposal Regulations in 99 Words

In California, medical waste disposal is stringently regulated to protect public health and the environment. Key regulations include: separate containment of medical waste at the source, use of FDA-approved sharps containers, and mandatory biohazard bag labeling.

Healthcare facilities, laboratories, and related establishments must adhere strictly to these rules to prevent hazards. Non-compliance can lead to legal repercussions and serious health risks. These regulations ensure the safe, efficient disposal of potentially infectious or hazardous materials, reflecting California’s commitment to public safety and environmental stewardship. Understanding and following these guidelines is crucial for all entities handling medical waste.

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Defining Medical Waste

Medical waste, often referred to as biohazardous waste, encompasses materials generated during healthcare activities that may pose infection risks. This category includes items such as:

  • Used needles and syringes
  • Contaminated personal protective equipment
  • Pathological waste (tissues, organs, and body parts)

California Medical Waste Regulations


California’s medical waste disposal regulations are crucial for protecting public health and the environment. Healthcare facilities must rigorously adhere to these rules for the safe handling and disposal of medical waste.

1. Register with the Department of Public Health

Healthcare facilities in California must register with the state’s Department of Public Health, adhering to its guidelines for medical waste management.

2. Ensure Proper Segregation & Packaging

Medical waste must be separated from other waste at the point of generation. It should be placed in containers that are rigid, leak-proof, puncture-resistant, and labeled with the biohazard symbol.

3. Maintain Proper Storage

Medical waste should be stored securely to prevent unauthorized access, contamination, and spread of infectious agents. Storage areas must be clearly marked and maintained properly.

4. Use Authorized Transportation

Only authorized transporters should be used for off-site transportation of medical waste. They must comply with regulations for handling and transportation, including vehicle labeling and manifests.

5. Adhere to Treatment & Disposal Regulations

California mandates that medical waste undergo treatment before disposal. Acceptable methods include incineration, autoclaving, and others. Treated waste can be disposed of in sanitary landfills or designated facilities.

6. Keep Mandatory Records

Facilities must maintain records of medical waste management, including manifests, treatment, and disposal receipts, for at least two years.

7. Train Staff

Proper training in handling, packaging, and disposal procedures is essential for personnel involved in medical waste management, ensuring safety and compliance.

Following these guidelines ensures compliance with California’s strict medical waste regulations, maintaining high standards of safety and environmental responsibility.

Regulated “Medical Waste”


Medical waste is outlined in California Administrative Code (§117690) as: “any biohazardous, pathology, pharmaceutical, or trace chemotherapy waste not regulated by the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976 (Public Law 94-580), as amended; sharps and trace chemotherapy wastes generated in a health care setting in the diagnosis, treatment, immunization, or care of humans or animals; waste generated in autopsy or necropsy; waste generated during preparation of a body for final disposition such as cremation or interment; waste generated in research pertaining to the production or testing of microbiologicals; waste generated in research using human or animal pathogens; sharps and laboratory waste that poses a potential risk of infection to humans generated in the inoculation of animals in commercial farming operations; waste generated from the consolidation of home-generated sharps; and waste generated in the cleanup of trauma scenes. Biohazardous, pathology, pharmaceutical, sharps, and trace chemotherapy wastes that meet the conditions of this section are not subject to any of the hazardous waste requirements found in Chapter 6.5 (commencing with Section 25100) of Division 20.”

Facilities Subject to Regulated Medical Waste


As per “7 CAC”, the “Safety Standards for Health Facilities includes regulations that form the basis for the design, plan review, and observation of the construction of hospital buildings, skilled nursing facilities, and intermediate care facilities. Additions, structural repairs, or alterations to existing health facilities must comply with these regulations.”

The Application of Regulations are as follows:

“A) Except as otherwise provided, these regulations and all applicable parts of the California Building Standards Code shall be the basis for design, plan review and observation of construction of hospital buildings, skilled nursing facilities and intermediate care facilities.

B) Additions, structural repairs or alterations to existing health facilities shall be made in accordance with the provisions of Part 2, Title 24, California Code of Regulations, California Building Standards Code.

C) Before any health facility not previously licensed under Section 1250 of the Health and Safety Code can be licensed and used as a health facility, the applicant shall provide substantiating documentation from a structural engineer that the building is in full conformance with the requirements of the California Building Standards Code for new buildings; if not, the building shall be reconstructed to conform to the requirements of the California Building Standards Code.

D) Routine maintenance and repairs shall not require prior approval by the Office but shall be performed in compliance with the applicable provisions of the California Building Standards Code.”

Proper Disposal of Regulated Medical Waste

Hospital Waste Disposal Sharps

The risks of improper medical waste disposal are clear.

California adheres to state and federal regulations for the disposal of regulated waste. This type of waste can include a variety of materials, such as biomedical waste, hazardous waste, and electronic waste.

BioMedical Waste Solutions is one of the very few private California medical waste disposal companies that are registered and permitted by the state to handle, transport, store, destroy, and dispose of medical waste and provide California medical waste disposal services.

California Medical Waste Disposal Resources

California Department of Public Health
1616 Capitol Ave, Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 558-1784

California Medical Association
1201 K Street, Suite #800, Sacramento, CA 95814
(800) 786-4262

For additional information or inquiries regarding the management of medical waste, please reach out to the Medical Waste Management Department of the CDPH at (916) 558-1784 or via email at [email protected].

Please note that it is advisable to consult with your local city and your facility as they may have more stringent or specific medical waste disposal regulations beyond state and national guidelines.

Medical Waste Management Resources

Explore our medical waste management resources below.

Medical Waste Disposal Guide

Risks to Improper Medical Waste Disposal

OSHA Compliance Training

Sharps Container Disposal

Red Bag Waste Disposal

COVID-19 Waste Disposal

Medical Record Shredding