Potentially Infectious Medical Waste

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What is Potentially Infectious Medical Waste (PIMW)?

Items that are defined as PIMW are:
  • Sharps

  • Human blood and blood products (includes liquid human blood, products of blood, items saturated with blood, and items that were saturated with blood and are now caked with blood.)

  • Cultures and stocks of agents infectious to humans, and associated biologicals; cultures from medical or pathological laboratories; cultures and stocks of infectious agents from research and industrial laboratories; wastes from the production of biologicals; discarded live or attenuated vaccines; or culture dishes and devices used to transfer, inoculate or mix cultures.

  • Animal waste including carcasses, body parts and bedding of animals that were known to have been exposed to infectious agentsduring research.

  • Items contaminated with blood from animals that were known to have been exposed to infectious agents during research.

Who determines the PIMW definition?

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) specifically regulates the packaging and disposal of PIMW waste and defines such waste through the Illinois Pollution Control Board. Specifically, PIMW rules are found in:

Title 35: Environmental Protection
Subtitle M: Biological Materials
Chapter I: Pollution Control Board
Subchapter Potentially Infectious Medical Waste

How does this apply to me as a biological waste generator?

As a generator, it is necessary to understand what items are and are not PIMW for two reasons.

First, it is necessary to segregate PIMW items and non-PIMW items for disposal through CEHS. The IEPA specifically regulates the packaging and disposal of PIMW waste and requires CEHS to report the amount of PIMW generated by the campus annually. Employees of CEHS are not able to identify PIMW waste by looking at it, so if generators do not segregate their waste, CEHS can not provide the IEPA with an accurate assessment of the amount of PIMW generated at SIUC.

Second, identifying what items are PIMW increases the level of safety for generators and CEHS employees who collect the waste, by giving them the ability to know what precautions to take in handling the waste and also giving them the ability to respond appropriately to a spill if such an incident should happen.

**Definition of an infectious agent: Any organism (such as a virus or bacteria) that is capable of being communicated by invasion and multiplication in body tissues and capable of causing disease or adverse health impacts in humans.**