Hazardous Material Emergency Response to COVID-19

The coronavirus outbreak reached a grim milestone in the US on March 26th, 2020. By now, the nation has more coronavirus cases as compared to any other country in the world. The outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19) has increased the requirement for remediation and decontamination of common interior surfaces and the safe disposal of infected materials such as infected gloves, masks, and other personal protective equipment (PPE). Not managing medical waste and contaminated sites properly can lead to significant adverse effects on human health and the environment. The spread of the coronavirus can be reduced by safely disposing of the medical and industrial waste. The decontaminating of the coronavirus infected sites is imperative as well.

Medical waste disposal services response to COVID-19

Effective management of hazardous waste requires identification, collection, separation, storage, transportation, treatment, disposal, as well as disinfection, personnel protection, and training.

The US government is seeking help from medical waste disposal services, hazardous waste disposal services, and industrial decontamination services to effectively handle the transport of solid waste gathered from health care facilities. The government is also soliciting professional assistance for the decontamination of hazardous waste and aid proactive, preventative cleaning of sites, and high-touch areas.

The medical waste disposal services are following the CDC RMW guidelines for coronavirus waste disposal. “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), OSHO, and WHO has determined that the medical waste generated in the treatment of COVID-19 patients and patients under investigation (PUIs) be managed as per standard regulated waste guidelines (49 CFR 173.134 and 30 TAC Chapter 326, Subchapter B), just like the medical waste from seasonal flu patients.”

The medical waste includes the coronavirus waste collected from health care facilities treating humans and animals. The medical waste includes analysis and immunization materials, used protective personal equipment (PPE), and biomedical research (production and testing of biological products such as disposable materials saturated with blood or body fluids, laboratory specimens, and sharps, etc.).

CDC RMW Guidelines for routine RMW containment onsite: 

  • Use a leak-resistant biohazard bag to pack contaminated medical wastes. Ensure the bag is sturdy and discard the waste without contaminating the bag’s exterior.
  • If a bag gets punctured or contaminated, pack that bag into another biohazard bag.
  • Seal the bags properly for disposal.

There are no additional packaging or transportation requirements from the Department of Transportation (DOT) for regulated medical waste or sharps.

For routine transport of RMW waste offsite 

The US Dept of Transport RMW 49 CFR 49 173.134(c) requires to contain the RMW plastic bags in a rigid container, and to be transported as “UN 3291 Regulated medical waste, n.o.s. or Clinical waste, unspecified, n.o.s. or (BIO) Medical waste, n.o.s., or Biomedical waste, n.o.s. or Medical waste, n.o.s.” (i.e., standard RMW transport packaging). The Specimens from suspect COVID-19 cases and cultures of SARS-CoV-2 must be packaged and transported as UN 3373 when sent offsite.

Packaging Guideline for the public by the CDC

Though the CDC hasn’t regulated new guidelines specific to handle regulated wastes or sharps collected from the COVID-19 patients, everyone must know the current regulations and Waste Acceptance Policy to reduce the risk of contamination:

  • The generators are responsible for the packaging of waste in biodegradable bags for transport to treatment facilities. Facilities like Clean Water Environment and others will not pack the deprived waste.
  • Close each bag by using a tie or hand knot. Each kit and container must be secured closed.
  • Improperly packed or damaged boxes will not be picked up by the facilities and returned to the generator.
  • Reusable sharps containers are not to be packed in RMW containers but instead placed on the racks for standard processing.

How is the COVID-19 waste treated?

The medical waste disposal services collect the coronavirus contaminated waste and treat it as per the RMW chapter of the CDC 2003 Environmental Infection Control Guidelines:

  • Regulated medical wastes are decontaminated to reduce the risk of contamination during the handling and disposal of by-products.
  • The treatment need not render the waste “sterile.”
  • The waste is treated under various treatment methods, including chemical disinfection, incineration, autoclaving, grinding/shredding/disinfection methods, energy-based technologies (e.g., microwave or radio wave treatments), and disinfection/encapsulation method. These treatment processes are licensed under each state’s medical waste regulations.

Industrial pandemic response to COVID-19

The government has advised everyone to maintain social distancing and work from home during the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. People across the nation are doing their best to prevent the spread of COVID-19. However, the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has compelled many organizations to address the business operational continuity concerns associated with suspected or confirmed infection of an employee, supplier, or visitor and the potential contamination of equipment or locations.

As there is no medicine to prevent COVID-19 disease, many industries and businesses should consider hiring industrial decontamination services. They can help perform cleaning, sanitization, and disinfection of the places where contamination is suspected or confirmed. Some companies like Clean Harbors, US Ecology, and Stericycle, are offering decontamination and disposal services throughout the nation during these difficult times. As the states have declared shelter-in-place orders, their teams are working on the frontline battling coronavirus and keeping essential businesses up and running. Let’s see how these companies are responding to the COVID-19 outbreak.

#1. Clean Harbors Response to COVID-19

The need for remediation and decontamination of common interior surfaces along with safe disposal of infected materials has become a priority these days. Clean Harbors is offering comprehensive management of medical waste generated during the treatment of patients infected with the virus. They are effectively utilizing their people, assets, strategy, expertise, and technology to quickly and safely get you and your business back on track.

#2. ENVIRO SERVE COVID-19 Decontamination Response

They offer decontamination services for various areas such as manufacturing sites, retail stores, industrial sites, schools, hospitals, and distribution centers, etc. With the on-going COVID-19 crisis, ENVIRO SERVE is offering services to implement decontamination measures at various public and private spaces. They ensure strict protocols, procedures, and use EPA approved hospital grade disinfectants for sanitization process. Their teams equipped with high grade personal protective equipment are ready to tackle the Coronavirus pandemic and make your environment as safe as possible.

For an immediate response, you can contact them at (800) 488-0910. 

#3. VEOLIA Response to COVID-19

VEOLIA offers lab and equipment decontamination services throughout the nation. To combat COVID-19 contaminated surfaces, Veolia has developed a formal task-specific standard operation procedure. Their team visits an affected site to perform corrective actions on the elements contaminated with viral pathogens. They ensure to follow CDC approved methods and OSHA guidelines to treat all non-permeable surfaces within the affected areas. Their team collects untreatable materials from the site and correctly treats them as hazardous substances.

For any immediate requirement, you can contact their emergency response services at 800-688-4005.


Aggressive action is needed to contain the transmission of contagious COVID-19. In addition to the personal preventive measures that individuals are taking, industrial decontamination and sanitation services are a critical piece of the puzzle to helping control the outbreak of coronavirus. They allow quarantine sites, medical centers, and various hospitals to continue to accept COVID-19 patients, and to deal with the waste generated during their treatment. We salute the global community who is working diligently on the front lines to control the virus spread and work to defeat this novel threat.

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