Medical Waste Regulation

Health and Environmental Risks Need to Be Fully Assessed Gao ID: RCED-90-86 March 6, 1990

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO assessed: (1) selected states' infectious medical waste regulatory programs; and (2) the status of the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) implementation of the Medical Waste Tracking Act.

GAO found that the states': (1) generator regulations varied; (2) legislation or regulations generally defined what types of medical waste should be considered infectious and set appropriate requirements, but the definitions varied; and (3) inspection processes varied, and the states conducted a limited number of inspections and took few enforcement actions. GAO also found that EPA issued regulations for a demonstration program which: (1) listed medical waste types to be regulated and specified tracking procedures; and (2) were criticized for including waste that did not present a substantial health risk and for not including some infectious items. GAO also found that EPA reported on extensive data gathering efforts for a required health hazard assessment, but realized that more research might be needed to assess the risks.


Our recommendations from this work are listed below with a Contact for more information. Status will change from "In process" to "Open," "Closed - implemented," or "Closed - not implemented" based on our follow up work.

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