Medical Waste

What We Do

The Medical Waste Program regulates generators of medical waste based on the Medical Waste Management Act. The program inspects medical waste facilities, facilities with on-site medical waste treatment units, and common storage areas annually. This program also investigates complaints regarding mishandling of medical waste and facilities that may be operating without a valid health permit. Some facilities that may generate medical waste include hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, blood banks, and doctors, dental and veterinarian offices.

If your facility generates 200 pounds or more of medical waste in any one month of a 12-month period, then it is a large quantity generator (LQG) and must be registered with EHS. If your facility treats medical waste on-site, then you must obtain a permit from EHS. As part of the application process, LQGs are also required to submit a Medical Waste Management Plan along with their application.

If your facility generates less than 200 pounds of medical waste per month and does not treat medical waste on-site, then it is a small quantity generator (SQG). If several SQGs (who operate independently) use a medical waste accumulation area to storage medical waste prior to collection by a registered hazardous waste hauler, then it is considered a common storage facility and a health permit is required.

Medical waste container
Attention All Home Sharps Users!

Home-generated sharps cannot be thrown in the trash. This includes disposable hypodermic needles, syringes, lancets, and other medical devices used for self-injection or blood tests, which may have a sharp tip or end. For proper disposal, contact the County Fire Department at 1-800-OILY CAT or visit the San Bernardino County Fire Accepted Household Hazardous Waste Items webpage. You can also view a guide to sharps disposal here.

Needles and Other Sharps (Outside of Health Care Settings)

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is medical waste?
A: “Medical waste” means any biohazardous, pathology, pharmaceutical, or trace chemotherapy waste not regulated by the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976 (Public Law 94-580), as amended; sharps and trace chemotherapy wastes generated in a health care setting in the diagnosis, treatment, immunization, or care of humans or animals; waste generated in autopsy or necropsy; waste generated during preparation of a body for final disposition such as cremation or interment; waste generated in research pertaining to the production or testing of microbiologicals; waste generated in research using human or animal pathogens; sharps and laboratory waste that poses a potential risk of infection to humans generated in the inoculation of animals in commercial farming operations; waste generated from the consolidation of home-generated sharps; and waste generated in the cleanup of trauma scenes.

Medical waste is waste which meets both of the following requirements:
1. The waste is composed of waste which is generated or produced as a result of any of the following actions:

  • Diagnosis, treatment, or immunization of human beings or animals.
  • Research pertaining to the activities specified in subparagraph A.
  • The production or testing of biologicals.
  • The accumulation of properly contained home-generated sharps waste that is brought by a patient, a member of the patient’s family, or by a person authorized by the enforcement agency, to a point of consolidation approved by the enforcement agency pursuant to Section 118147.
  • Removal of a regulated waste, as defined in Section 5193 of Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations, from a trauma scene by a trauma scene waste management practitioner.

2. The waste is any of the following:

  • Biohazardous waste
  • sharps waste

Q: Who is a medical waste generator?
A: Any person whose act or process produces medical waste and includes, but is not limited to, a provider of health care, as defined in subdivision (d) of Section 56.05 of the Civil Code. All of the following are examples of businesses that generate medical waste:

  • Medical and dental offices, clinics, hospitals, surgery centers, laboratories, research laboratories, chronic dialysis clinics, and education and research facilities.
  • Veterinary offices, veterinary clinics, and veterinary hospitals.
  • Pet shops.
  • Trauma scene waste management practitioners.

Q: Who is required to obtain a Medical Waste Generator’s Health Permit?
A: Medical Waste Generators in San Bernardino County who produce any medical waste are required by the California Health and Safety Code, Medical Waste Management Act, §117705, §117720 and §117825 to register, and obtain a permit from the County’s enforcement agency.

Q: Am I a Small Quantity Generator (SQG) or a Large Quantity Generator (LQG)?
A: A LQG is a medical waste generator that produces 200 or more pounds of medical waste in any month of a 12-month period. An SQG is a medical waste generator that generates less than 200 pounds per month of medical waste.

Q: Can I haul medical waste to a treatment facility or back to my parent facility?
A: All medical waste shall be hauled by a registered hazardous waste hauler, the United States Postal Service, or by a person with an exception granted pursuant to Medical Waste Management Act (MWMA), §117946 for small quantity generators or §117976 for large quantity generators.

The exception: A medical waste generator or parent organization that employs health care professionals who generate medical waste may transport medical waste generated in limited quantities up to 35.2 pounds to the central location of accumulation, provided that all of the following are met:
(1) The principal business of the generator is not to transport or treat regulated medical waste.
(2) The generator shall adhere to the conditions and requirements set forth in the materials of trade exception, as specified in Section 173.6 of Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations.
(3) A person transporting medical waste shall provide a form or log to the receiving facility, and the receiving facility shall maintain the form or log for a period of two years, containing all of the following information:
(A) The name of the person transporting the medical waste.
(B) The number of containers of medical waste transported.
(C) The date the medical waste was transported.

Q: How do I dispose of my Home-generated sharps waste (HHGS)?
A: Home-generated sharps waste shall be transported only in a sharps container, or other containers approved by the enforcement agency, and shall only be managed at any of the following:
(1) A household hazardous waste facility
(2) A “home-generated sharps consolidation point” as defined in MWMA §117904.
(3) A medical waste generator’s facility pursuant to §118147.
(4) A facility through the use of a medical waste mail-back container approved by the United States Postal Service.

HHGS can be dropped off at several locations within San Bernardino County. A list is posted on DEHS’s website: Sharps Disposal Locations Closest to You. For proper disposal contact the County Fire Department at 1-800-OILY CAT or visit the San Bernardino County Fire Department website.

Q: How do I dispose of my pharmaceutical waste?
A: Pharmaceutical Waste shall be discarded into an approved pharmaceutical waste container labeled with the words “incineration only” and disposed of by an approved hauler.

You can view a list of State-approved haulers and treatment facilities on the California Department of Public Health website. Also, visit the DEA Diversion Control website.

Pharmaceutical Waste Hauling Exemption: A pharmaceutical waste generator or parent organization that employs health care professionals who generate pharmaceutical waste is exempt from the requirements of subdivision (a) of MWMA §118000 if all of the requirements are met as described in §118032.