Medical Waste Program

The purpose of this program is to protect the general public, health care facility and solid waste management personnel from injury and exposure to pathogenic organisms in medical wastes. As mandated by the Medical Waste Management Act , (Health and Safety Code, Sections 117600 - 118360), the Department of Health Services, (DHS) Environmental Management Branch regulates the storage, transportation, and disposal of regulated medical waste.

The Medical Waste Management Act (MWMA), Section 117705 of the California Health and Safety Code (H&SC) considers any person whose act or process produces medical waste to be a "medical waste generator" in California (e.g. a facility or business that generates, and/or stores medical waste on-site). Medical waste generators may be either large quantity generators (generate 200 lbs./month or more), or small quantity generators (generate less than 200 lbs./month).

Medical waste is often described as any solid waste that is generated in the diagnosis, treatment, or immunization of human beings or animals, in research pertaining thereto, or in the production or testing of biologicals, including but not limited to:

  • Fluid blood, fluid blood products, containers and equipment containing fluid blood or blood from animals know to be infected with disease known to be infectious to humans.
  • Laboratory waste from human or animal specimen cultures.
  • Animal parts, tissues, fluids, or carcasses suspected of being contaminated with infectious agents known to be contagious to humans.
  • Cultures and stocks of infectious agents including waste from the production of bacteria, viruses, spores, discarded live attenuated vaccines, discarded animal vaccines (including Brucellosis and Contagious Ecthyma), and de-vices used to transfer, inoculate and mix cultures.
  • Sharps waste including hypodermic needles, lancets, blades, acupuncture needles, root canal files, broken glass and syringes contaminated with bio-hazardous waste and trauma scene waste capable of cutting or piercing.
  • Human or animal specimen cultures from medical and pathology laboratories.
  • Human surgery specimens or tissues removed at surgery or autopsy contaminated with infectious agents.
  • Tissues which have been fixed in formaldehyde or other fixatives or contaminated with chemotherapeutic agents, including gloves, towels, bags, tubing and disposable gowns.

The Act requires all medical waste generators who treat their medical waste onsite to register and obtain a permit from our Department. Large quantity medical waste generators (generate 200 lbs./month or more) who do not treat their medical waste onsite are only required to register with our Department. In addition, if you are planning to let other small medical waste generators store their medical waste at your facility, you need to apply for the Common Storage Facility Permit . Also, be aware that if you generate less than 20 pounds of medical waste per week and/or transport less than 20 pounds at one time, you need to apply for a Limited Quantity Hauling Exemption permit .

The following information will assist you in understanding your responsibilities under the law requiring Medical Waste Facilities to register and obtain permits for the storage, transfer, treatment and disposal of medical waste. Please read the enclosed information carefully before filling out the forms.

Who Must Register, Obtain A Permit or A Haulers Exemption

Medical waste generators or activities that are in one of the following categories:

  • Large generators (200 or more lbs./month) of medical waste.
  • Any generator or health care professional that treats medical waste on-site.
  • Any person who operates a common storage facility.
  • A transfer station operation.
  • Limited Quantity Hauler Exemption - Any person generating less than 20 pounds per week and hauling less than 20 pounds of medical waste at any one time.
  • Any health care professional who is licensed by the State Licensing and Certified and is one of the listed facility types, list under section 117995.

Who is Exempt from Registration, Permit and Exemption Requirements

  • Small Quantity Generators (SQG) (less than 200 lbs./month) who do not treat waste onsite.
  • SQG who use licensed hazardous waste haulers to transport medical waste offsite.
  • SQG who use a common storage facility.

How to Comply

Medical Waste Facilities include, but are not limited to:

  • Hospitals
  • Chronic Dialysis Clinics
  • Physician's Offices
  • Medical and Dental Offices
  • Education and Research Centers
  • Laboratories, Research Laboratories
  • Surgery Centers
  • Skilled Nurses Facilities
  • Veterinary Hospitals, Veterinary Clinics

Definitions (H&SC 117600 – 118360)
A Small Quantity Generator (SQG) is a medical waste generator, other than a trauma scene waste management practitioner, that generates less than 200 pounds per month of medical waste.

A Large Quantity Generator (LQG) is a medical waste generator, other than a trauma scene waste management practitioner, that generates 200 or more pounds of medical waste in any month of a 12 month period. A permit is required from this Department if your facility is a LQG .

Treatment means any method, technique, or process designed to change the biological character or composition of any medical waste so as to eliminate its potential for causing disease, as specified in Chapter A. A permit is required from this Department for businesses and Health Care professionals who treat (sterilize) medical waste on-site .

A Common Storage Facility (CSF) means any designated accumulation area that is onsite and is used by small quantity generators otherwise operating independently for the storage of medical waste for collection by a registered hazardous waste hauler. A permit is required from this Department for businesses that provide medical waste management services which include a designated medical waste common storage location/facility .

A Limited Quantity Hauling Exemption (LQHE) is a generator who wishes to transport his/her own medical waste to a permitted transfer station or common storage facility. The generator must generate no more than 20 pounds of waste per week and may not transport more than 20 pounds of waste at any one time. A permit is required from this Department for facilities who meet this definition .

Medical Waste Management Plan or equivalent: Large and small quantity generators shall file with the Department of Environmental Resources and maintain, on-site, a certified document that identifies the wastes you generate at your facility and how they are managed. A permit is required from this Department for facilities that must file and maintain a Medical Waste Management Plan .

Should you have any questions, please contact Robert Riess at 209-525-6749 or any Hazardous Materials District Inspector at 209-525-6700.

Download an Application for a Limited Quantity Hauling Exemption (LQHE) .

Download an Application for a Common Storage Facility Permit.

Download an Application for a Medical Waste Management Plan (includes the LQHE, Common Storage Facility Permit, Registration and Permit for Medical Waste Generation and Treatment) .