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The Florida Department of Health works to protect, promote & improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county & community efforts.
Biomedical Waste Program
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There are approximately 44,000 facilities in Florida that generate biomedical waste. These include hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, laboratories, funeral homes, dentists, veterinarians, physicians, pharmacies that provide flu shots, body piercing salons, tattoo shops, transporters, and storage and treatment facilities. The objective of the biomedical waste program is to protect health care workers, environmental health staff, biomedical waste transporters, and the general public from risks associated with potentially infectious biomedical waste.
Both the Department of Health and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) have responsibilities under this program. The Department of Environmental Protection has primary responsibility for biomedical waste incineration and final disposal. The Department of Health has primary authority and responsibility for facilities that generate, transport, store, or treat biomedical waste through processes other than incineration.
When biomedical waste is improperly managed, it places health care workers, sanitation workers, and the general public at risk for contracting dangerous diseases. Section 381.0098, Florida Statutes and Chapter 64E-16, of the Florida Administrative Code (FAC)(60kb PDF), provides guidance to facilities that generate biomedical waste to aid them in ensuring proper management of that waste. A model biomedical waste operating plan (38kb PDF) is available to assist facilities in documenting their procedures for management of biomedical waste. Many facilities have their biomedical waste removed by a registered biomedical waste transporter.
Biomedical waste generated by individuals in their own homes from use of syringes or diagnostic lancets also should be properly managed. Many homeowners can find assistance through a local county needle collection program. Where biomedical waste is produced in a home through injury or other major traumatic conditions, the guidelines for home cleanup of biomedical waste (40KB PDF) provide guidance for proper cleanup or trauma scene clean up providers can be contacted to manage site decontamination.
Complaints concerning biomedical waste are investigated by County Health Departments. Small amounts of improperly disposed biomedical waste are cleaned up under Department of Health supervision. Emergency situations are referred to the Department of Environmental Protection, Bureau of Emergency Response at (850) 245-2010.
The Department maintains inspection data for Biomedical Waste establishments.Quick Links
The 1993 Florida Legislature provided funding for the Biomedical Waste Program from the Solid Waste Management Trust Fund. Additional funding is provided through the annual registration of biomedical waste transporters and the annual permitting of storage and treatment facilities plus those generating facilities that produce at least 25 pounds of biomedical waste in any 30-day period of the year. About 30,000 such facilities are inspected annually. However, the approximately 12,000 generating facilities that produce less than 25 pounds of biomedical waste in each 30-day period of the year are exempt from from the permit fee, and are inspected once every three years.
Guidance from the Department of Health relative to biomedical waste management assists facilities in ensuring proper identification, segregation, containment, storage, and labeling of biomedical waste. The department has established parameters for the safe handling and treatment of biomedical waste in Chapter 64E-16, of the Florida Administrative Code (60kb PDF). The department also has produced lists of commercial biomedical waste treatment facilities and red bags for biomedical waste containment that meet the standards of Chapter 64E-16, of the Florida Administrative Code. Other red bags also may be used if they meet or exceed the construction standards required by Chapter 64E-16, of the Florida Administrative Code.
Chapter 64E-16, of the Florida Administrative Code, instructs biomedical waste facilities in providing training to personnel whose responsibilities include some aspect of managing biomedical waste. Such personnel receive training prior to assuming any duties associated with biomedical waste and also thereafter receive an annual refresher course. Training details the procedures included in the facility's written operating plan, as well as compliance with Chapter 64E-16, of the Florida Administrative Code. A video on VHS tape, CD, or DVD to assist in training can be purchased from the Department of Health for $22.00. The order form can be downloaded from the Applications and Forms section.