2.4 Principle III: Limit the Spread of Blood and Saliva

Waste Disposal

photo of trash recepticleAlthough, as previously mentioned, while programs are unlikely to use sharps (other than explorers) and even less likely to generate blood-soaked items when placing dental sealants, staff should still be aware that disposal of regulated medical waste (e.g., sharps, blood-soaked gauze) must comply with OSHA rules and state regulations. In Maryland, both the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Department of the Environment have responsibility for special (otherwise known as regulated) medical waste. Sharps containers should not be emptied and should be disposed of as soon as the contents reach the fill/full line.2

In the unlikely event that a Maryland school-based dental sealant program generates special medical waste (SMW) (e.g., blood-soaked gauze), that waste must be identified; contained in a leak-resistant, securely fastened bag/container that is red or conspicuously labeled with the international biohazard symbol; and segregated from regular solid waste. SMW must be properly transported to an appropriately permitted facility for treatment or disposal.7 SMW is also sometimes known as hazardous medical waste or infectious medical waste. A certified special medical waste hauler is not required for school-based dental sealant programs to transport SMW from off-site locations.

It is best to consult with school personnel about their preferences before discarding non-regulated waste on-site. All transported instruments should be marked "DIRTY" or "CLEAN" and transported in plastic containers with lids to avoid cross contamination. Any program that is concerned about its status as a small generator should refer to the state regulations available on the Maryland Department of Health website.