With some Ebola-infected patients being treated at facilities in the United States, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has issued guidance on its website relative to the transport of Ebola-tainted waste, which is classified as a Category A infectious substance under the hazmat regulations. Transport of such materials for disposal generally requires several layers of packaging, including an outer hard container effectively sealed.
Coordination between the Centers for Disease Control and PHMSA reportedly continues as officials work to ensure there is not an Ebola outbreak in the U.S.
Transmission of the virus occurs only with direct contact with bodily fluids of a symptomatic patient or direct contact with infected waste. The virus is not transmitted through the air.
PHMSA Oct. 3 issued a special permit to Illinois-based Stericycle, which specializes in medical waste, for alternative packaging of infectious medical waste associated with the treatment of the now-deceased Ebola patient in Dallas, the only known case initially diagnosed in the U.S. (Others being treated in the States were initially diagnosed in Africa before being transported here.) The patient had traveled to Dallas from West Africa, where he was exposed to the virus. Transport of waste was necessary given the existence of materials in the apartment where the patient had been staying, likewise the need to remove contaminated items from quarantine at the hospital where the patient was treated. Stericycle also has reportedly handled transport of waste for incineration/disposal from treatment of infected doctors in Atlanta.
To explore Category A infectious substances hazmat transport regulations in detail, and specific guidance relative to Ebola, visit this page on PHMSA’s website.