Safely Using Sharps (Needles and Syringes) at Home, at Work and on Travel
Sharps is a medical term for devices with sharp points or edges that can puncture or cut skin. They may be used at home, at work, and while traveling to manage the medical conditions of people or their pets, including allergies, arthritis, cancer, diabetes, hepatitis, HIV/AIDS, infertility, migraines, multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis, blood clotting disorders, and psoriasis.
This program regulates generators of medical waste. We inspect medical waste facilities, on-site medical waste treatment units, and common storage areas and investigate complaints regarding a facility’s medical waste handling. Some facilities that may generate medical waste include hospitals; skilled nursing facilities; and doctor, dentist 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 us. If your facility treats medical waste on-site, using steam sterilization or microwave technology, then you must obtain a permit from us.
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 a medical waste accumulation area is used by several SQGs for the storage of medical waste prior to collection by a registered hauler, then it is considered a common storage area and a permit must be issued by us. SQGs receive compliance inspections from time-to-time to establish their status as a large or small quantity generator. The SQG program also provides compliance information via mailers and workshops. On-site consultation/training is available upon request.
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Repeal of the Limited Quantity Hauling Exemption (LQHE)
California Medical Waste Management Act Repeal of the Limited Quantity Hauling Exemption
Effective January 1, 2015, the Limited Quantity Hauling Exemption (LQHE) annual application/renewal will no longer be required by this Agency.
Please click here for our fact sheet.
Temporary Medical Events
Including Health Fairs, Vaccination Clinics, and Veteran Stand Downs:
A Registered Medical Waste Generator may participate in, and generate medical waste at, a temporary event without further registration or permitting required.
The medical waste generator shall notify this agency at least 72 hours before the event.
Send notification by email to: OMedicalWaste@ochca.com
Include the following information in the email notification or complete the Notification of a Medical Waste Temporary Event Form (fillable):
- Medical waste generator's business name, address, and phone number
- Location of Temporary Event
- Date & Times of Temporary Event
If you have any questions or to provide verbal notification, please call (714) 433-6000 and ask to speak to a medical waste specialist.
Keeping Sharp Medical Waste Update
Registration requirements for facilities that generate, store or treat medical waste are determined by the amount of waste generated and the storage and treatment location of the waste.
Large Quantity Generator (LQG)
An LQG is a facility that generates 200 pounds or more of medical waste in any one-month of a 12-month period. All LQGs are required to register with the Environmental Health Division.
Small Quantity Generator (SQG)
An SQG is a facility that generates less than 200 pounds of medical waste per month in every month of a 12-month period.
- All generators of medical waste (SQG and LQG) are required to register with the Environmental Health Division.
Permits & Fees
Facilities that treat medical waste on-site or store medical waste for more than one generator are required to obtain a permit from the Environmental Health Division in addition to maintaining current registration.
For additional information regarding permits for medical waste facilities, please call Environmental Health Medical Waste Management program at 714-433-6000 to speak to a Specialist.
Current Medical Waste fees can be viewed on our Fees page.
A copy of the Medical Waste Management Act (MWMA), which governs the management of medical waste in all jurisdictions in the State, is available in Adobe Acrobat PDF format on the California Department of Health Services webpage.
Initial Containment of Medical Waste
- Medical waste must be separated from other wastes at the point of origin.
- Biohazardous waste must be placed in red bags conspicuously labeled with "BIOHAZARDOUS WASTE" or the international biohazard symbol with the word "BIOHAZARD." The red bags must be impervious to water and thick enough to pass a 165-gram dart impact test.
- Sharps waste must be contained in rigid, puncture and leak resistant containers. These containers shall be labeled with "SHARPS WASTE" or the international biohazard symbol with the word "BIOHAZARD."
- Grinders, compactors or trash chutes are not to be used for medical waste prior to treatment.
Chemotherapy waste, pathology waste and pharmaceutical waste must be separated from other medical waste. These types of waste must be incinerated at a permitted medical waste incinerator.
Common Storage Facility (CSF)
A CSF is used to store medical waste by more than one SQG or operates as a collection point for medical waste. Common storage facilities are required to register with the Environmental Health Division.
For additional information regarding registration of medical waste facilities, please call Environmental Health Medical Waste Management program at 714-433-6000 to speak to a Specialist.
Medical Waste Storage Containers
Containers and carts used to store closed bags of medical waste must be:
- Leak resistant
- Tightly covered
- Clean and in good repair
- Labeled on all sides with "BIOHAZARDOUS WASTE" or the international biohazard symbol and the word "BIOHAZARD"
Washed and decontaminated after each use.
The final storage area is where containers of medical waste are stored for disposal or treatment. The final storage area is required to be:
- Secured to prevent access to unauthorized persons
- Marked with warning signs easily legible from 25 feet away. The signs must state in English and Spanish and any other appropriate language, "CAUTION-BIOHAZARDOUS WASTE STORAGE AREA-UNAUTHORIZED PERSONS KEEP OUT."
- Protected from animals and natural elements
For specific information regarding the operation of medical waste facilities, please call Environmental Health Medical Waste Management program at 714-433-6000 to speak to a Specialist.