Autoclaved waste disposal in a Teaching Lab -Reply

Alan Junkins junkinsa at SMTPGW2.MUSC.EDU
Mon Aug 18 07:41:30 EST 1997

I teach diagnostic microbiology in a medical technology
program, and my institution is interpreting federal guidelines
in the same manner yours is.  I must autoclave all cultures. 
Then I can dump the autoclaved broth and molten agar down
the drain.  But the tubes and shriveled up plastic petri dishes
must then be placed in a biohazard bag for incineration,
which costs the university big bucks (it was $75 a bag a few
years ago).  I do work with virulent organisms, but it seems to
me that dead is dead, and I'm dumping the majority of the
organisms down the drain after autoclaving.  I can thinkof two
possible reasons for this policy:

1.  The university's safety department is interpreting the law
extra cautiously in order to insure they stay within

2.  They want to protect and alleviate the fears of
housekeeping staff and others who may see or handle the
materials after autoclaving.  These individuals could have
some concerns about their health and just what it is they are
being exposed to.  They may also be concerned that the
material was accidentally thrown out without being autoclaved
or that it wasn't autoclaved well enough.

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