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What’s the Difference Between Bio-Hazardous, Infectious, and Pathological Wastes?

Bio-Hazardous Waste

Sharps are a clear example of bio-hazardous waste.

Facilities that produce medical waste have a lot to think about, especially when it comes disposing of that waste in the proper manner. Waste can be classified under a few different labels, but it may be difficult to decide under which label certain medical wastes should be classified.In general, medical waste can be labeled as bio-hazardous, infectious, and pathological. Let’s investigate the definitions of these different wastes and how they differ, if they differ at all.

Bio-Hazardous Waste

Bio-hazardous waste is defined as any waste that contains infectious (or potentially infectious) material, such as internal bodily fluids like blood. Sharps waste is what most people think about when they think about bio-hazardous waste. The assumption with sharps is that they always contain infectious material, so they need to be handled properly with PPE and other protective measures.

Infectious Waste

Infectious waste is any waste capable of causing infectious diseases. This kind of waste can be dry, semi-dry, or liquid. At first glance, it doesn’t seem like there’s a difference between infectious and bio-hazardous waste. The difference is small, but significant – bio-hazardous waste could potentially contain infectious waste, while infectious waste could potentially contain infectious disease. So, in the example above, the sharps would be classified as bio-hazardous waste because it potentially could contain infectious waste – namely, blood, which in turn could contain material capable of transmitting an infectious disease.

Pathological Waste

Pathological waste is classified as recognizable body parts, organs, or tissue from a human or animal body. In this sense, pathological waste can also be classified as a bio-hazardous waste since it too could contain infectious waste. However, bio-hazardous waste is a more encompassing term, since it can also include materials such as sharps or other non-organic materials with the potential of carrying infectious waste.

Disposing of Medical Waste Properly

These classifications are meant to guide us in the proper disposal of these wastes. However, regulations are constantly changing and facilities that deal with bio-hazardous, infectious, and pathological wastes need a way to stay on top of the current regulations and best practices for handling them. That’s where an environmental management company like AEG Environmental can help! We help waste generators of all sizes manage and dispose of their hazardous wastes effectively according to federal, state, and local regulations.


No matter what kind of environmental issue you may have, AEG Environmental can help. We handle every situation with care, dedication, and a commitment to exemplary customer service. When you have an emergency, you can rely on us! Need training? We can handle that too! We train in a wide variety of environmental management areas so that your company can remain compliant with EPA, DOT, and OSHA. Make sure to check out our blog for the latest and greatest in the waste management world! You should also follow us on social media for updates.

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This entry was posted on Friday, May 26th, 2017 at 1:39 pm. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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