Chemo Waste Management

Medical Waste Disposal Services
Chemotherapy generates some of the most hazardous waste in the medical
industry, so when it comes to medical waste disposal, healthcare providers that
manage chemotherapy will find that it is a critical aspect of their
healthcare waste management plan.

Most chemotherapy drugs are cytotoxic, meaning they kill living cells.  Often this type of waste will not be categorized as infectious, however it is highly toxic and corrosive. When it is disposed of improperly, these wastes may result in long-term damage to our natural resources.

Medical Waste of America (MWA) provides solutions that minimize cross-contamination and offers cost-effective disposal of trace chemotherapy waste and sharps contaminated with trace amounts of chemotherapy residue.

Hospitals, pharmacies, and oncologists or any type of medical practice that handles chemotherapy drugs and/or waste, please contact us today for a quote.

How is chemotherapy waste segregated and disposed properly?

Chemotherapy waste should be segregated for proper disposal.  It is important to understand which pharmaceuticals utilized are considered hazardous as stated in the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).  RCRA identifies the pharmaceuticals (and other chemicals) which are considered hazardous waste.  Under RCRA guidelines these products must be segregated, managed, and transported as hazardous waste.

Once the category of waste is designated, the next step is to determine if the waste is considered “trace” or “bulk”.  The words “trace” and “bulk” are common terms used to describe chemotherapy waste.   These terms are widely used in the industry even though they are not official EPA designations.  Trace chemotherapy can usually be found on items used to prepare and administer chemo, including  empty bags, tubing gloves, pads, and gowns.  If there is any residue of the chemotherapy product on any item, that too would be considered Trace.  These items can be transported and disposed of through Medical Waste of America (MWA).

Bulk Waste would include full, partially full, or expired  bags of  chemotherapy.  Bulk Waste should be placed in black containers clearly labeled as Hazardous Waste.

If chemotherapy includes a P or U listed drug,  it will be classified as Hazardous Waste and should be placed in a black bin container for disposal through a hazardous waste company.  This includes trace P or U listed products as well as the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), or any other material contaminated with the hazardous product or used in its administration

As mentioned previously, individual state requirements may be more stringent than federal regulations; so other labeling may be required by an individual state’s regulations.  Proper knowledge, segregation and packaging is key to compliance when handling chemotherapy waste streams.   For a more comprehensive explanation of RCRA and pharmaceutical and hazardous waste, please check out our individual page that discusses in more detail Pharmaceutical Waste.

What is the proper treatment for Chemotherapy Waste?

MWA has the healthcare waste solutions, licensing and compliance expertise to properly manage the regulatory responsibilities for Chemotherapy Waste of every sized healthcare facility. All of our medical waste solutions and products are designed to emphasize safety and compliance, minimize infection transfer risk, and provide efficient segregation and disposal practices. If you generate chemotherapy waste at your facility, please consider the services of Medical Waste of America (MWA). This type of waste must be treated before disposal. Incineration is usually the most appropriate type of treatment but treatment options do vary from state to state.

What is RCRA Empty?

Containers are consider “RCRA Empty”  when  less than 3% of the original total volume of the product remains in the container. In the past, it was acceptable to triple rinse empty containers and then dispose of them. After 2019, the EPA set new standards and no longer allows rinsing of containers, or any sewering of pharmaceutical waste. If that product is a P or U listed hazardous pharmaceutical or chemical then this term does not apply and the product is deemed hazardous and dispose of accordingly.

What are some examples of Hazardous Waste Chemotherapy Drugs?

Here is a list of the most common chemotherapy drugs that are considered by the RCRA as hazardous waste pharmaceuticals.  Please note they may be designated as P or U listed drugs and should be segregated properly.

Generic NameBrand NameWaste Code
Arsenic TrioxideTrisenoxP012, D004
CyclophosphamideCytoxan, NeosarU058
DaunomycinDaunorubicin, Cerubidin, DaunoXome, RubidomycinU059
DiethystilbestrolDES, StilphostrolU089
MelphalanAlkeran, L-PAMU150
Mitomycin CMitomycin, MutamycinU010
StreptozotocinStreptozocin, ZanosarU206
Uracil MustardUramustineU237

(The complete list of P-Listed and U-listed wastes can be found at the EFR website under 40 CFR section 261.33)

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