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Biological Waste

County of San Diego and the State of California laws strictly regulate the proper packaging and disposal of biological waste from CSUSM. Safety, Health & Sustainability (SH&S) provides regulatory oversight for CSUSM in the management, packing and disposal of all hazardous waste streams, including biological waste. Depending on the disposition of the biological waste, procedures could be different for handling and disposal. Proper classification of biological waste is essential in order to properly manage it.

  • Pathological waste is composed of tissue (from cells to whole body parts) that potentially contains infectious agents and material that is deemed to threaten the environment or the public.
  • BSL-2 contains potentially or known infectious agents and materials that are composed of non-tissue material that is deemed a threat to the environment or the public.
  • Emerald Energy waste is a separate waste stream for BSL-1 laboratories only. This waste is composed of common lab materials that include: paper, plastics (eppndorf tubes, pipette tips, etc.), gloves (latex, vinyl, and nitrile), and BSL-1 approved organisms.  Only after prior approval from SH&S can a lab be adopted into this program (

NOTE: Autoclaving of biological waste is not permitted at CSUSM. In addition, the PI or IST in charge of the laboratory needs to ensure the Biological Safety Cabinet (BSC) is certified annually.


Any instrument, object, or device capable of puncturing or cutting a biohazardous bag or skin. 

Examples include but are not limited to:

  • Microscope slides
  • Needles (hypodermic, syringes or lancelets)
  • Broken glassware
  • Blades (razors, scalpels)

Sharps container must adhere to the following specification: The container must be, labeled with a universal biohazardous symbol, be puncture resistant, rigid, sealable and ne able to be transported. All sharps containers must have a CSUSM generator label (Avery Label 5160) affixed to the outside of the container (contains name, address and phone number of the institution of the campus) Sharps containers should not exceed ¾ capacity.  Full sharp containers should be placed in a biohazard freezer within your building. SH&S is responsible for retrieving biological waste and properly disposing of it.

If you anticipate sharp containers to be contaminated with chemicals or radiation, please call Safety, Health & Sustainability for proper instruction on waste management at 760-750-4502.

Dry Biological Waste

Containment of dry biological waste must:

  • Be placed in a rigid container with a self-opening lid (foot pedal or sensor activated)
  • Have on all five side (top and all 4 vertical sides of the container) with the universal biohazard symbol.
  • Be doubled bagged with red biohazard bags inside the biohazard container with a campus generator label on the exterior bag.
  • Be separated between biohazardous (non-tissue) and pathological (tissue) waste streams.
  • Not contain any liquid.
  • Appropriate biohazardous waste bags

Biohazardous Waste Includes:

  • Infectious agents, cultures, petri dishes.
  • Waste materials from spores, viruses, and bacteria.
  • Contaminated paper products (towels, Kim wipes, bench paper, etc.).
  • Contaminated plastic products (eppendorf tubes, falcon tubes, etc.) .
  • Contaminated gloves (latex, nitrile, and vinyl).  

Pathological contaminated (tissue) waste includes:

  • Cells.
  • Animal carcasses and parts (cats, pigs, cows, sheep, etc.).

Liquid biohazardous Waste 

  • Deactivate with 10% bleach solution for a minimum of 30 minutes. You may then discharge to the sewer system. 

Storage of Biohazard and Pathological Waste

All red biohazard bags and sharps containers must go directly from the biohazardous container to the freezer labeled with a biohazard symbol located in Science Hall 1, Room 102, Science Hall 2, Room 157A, or at the ELB Room 105. Red bags should be tied up and NOT left unattended outside the rigid waste container.  Bags containing pathological waste must be taped with black tape at the top of the bag to designate the difference from pathological waste and biohazard waste.  Sharps containers must be sealed and we prefer when the containers are duct tapped for added safety for our team. SH&S is responsible for retrieving biological waste and properly disposing of it.