The “Official” Description
There may or may not be any legitimate foundation for the question, what is a biohazard? It could be a question asked out of curiosity, pure and simple. Or, you might be asking the question because you want to know what that part of your job description is going to be like! Or, perhaps you want to know whether or not you should avoid exposure to one? In any case, the “official” answer is: any situation that has occurred where there is a biological substance that poses a threat to the health of (primarily) humans, or other living organisms. A biohazard must be handled by professionals who know how to handle these materials as well as dispose of them properly, so as not to create a natural disaster instead!
Types Of Biohazards
There are 5 major types of biohazardous waste:
- Solid biohazardous waste. This includes anything such as PPE equipment, petri dishes, towels, linens etc. that come in contact with any human or animal specimen, such as during any medical test or procedure, or while cleaning up after any biohazard.
- Liquid biohazardous waste. This includes all body fluids or blood measuring over 25 milliliters, and must be disposed of in leak-proof containers, besides other safety measures being observed.
- “Sharps” biohazardous waste. This includes all needles, broken glass, or sharp medical objects like scalpels which could be infectious, contaminated or contagious. These things must be disposed of properly in a clearly marked sharps container.
- Pathological biohazardous waste. This includes any organs, tissues or body parts removed from either humans or animals, as these are all potentially contaminated with contagions. Autopsies, surgeries and biopsies produce these types of pathological biohazardous waste materials.
- Microbiological biohazardous waste. This is most common in laboratories. Some examples are specimen cultures, disposable culture dishes, discarded viruses, and waste materials from clinical or research procedures involving communicable infectious agents.
Levels Of Biohazards
There are four different levels of biohazards according to the Center for Disease Control, in addition to the five types of biohazardous wastes.
- Level one – poses a minimal threat to humans and the environment, such as E. Coli and similar type bacteria strains. Can be handled with minimal risk and is easily disposed of properly.
- Level two – the HIV virus, Salmonella and Hepatitis B are in this category of agents, which can cause severe illness and are transmitted through direct contact with infected materials.
- Level three – this group of pathogens can become airborne and cause serious diseases, like Tuberculosis or Coxiella burnetii.
- Level four – is reserved for those pathogens which are life threatening and have no cure or treatment, such as the Ebola or Lassa virus.
Depending on your level of biohazard, different methods of safety and disposal are required. This is why it’s so important to call in the professionals if you have a situation that could be considered a biohazard, even if you’re unsure.
Examples Of Biohazards:
1. Your Long Lost Second Cousin
Now that we have a fairly decent grasp on the definition of a biohazard, let’s talk about some situations that may potentially be considered biohazardous. Let’s try and think of some realistic examples that could actually happen to you, in real life. For instance;
Let’s pretend you’re doing a solid for a newfound second cousin and his family, by watching their house while they’re temporarily in another state. They had an unexpected emergency on his wife’s side, putting them in a momentarily unpredictable situation. You were just barely getting to know them, really, so you’re a little unnerved at having to take on the responsibility of their home. Especially with hardly any notice. Anyhow, you have been looking into hiring a professional cleaning company to come in at least once, and possibly more depending upon the cost.
Your second cousin’s family and yours have not been close until just recently, so it’s difficult to say what they’re like “behind closed doors”. However, the longer they’re gone, the more you’re finding out. As you move from room to room, it quickly becomes apparent that they have been living in a potentially unhealthy, and possibly even dangerous, environment, here.
Suddenly, you focus in on what’s had your inadvertent – and now has your undivided – attention. Bugs! Not microscopic, but very small. Bed bugs! They must be pretty hungry, sensing blood in their vicinity to be out in the open and in the daylight, like that. But there they are, no doubt about it. Yikes! Now what?!
2. Miss Clover Who Plays The Organ At Church
For this example we’ll use someone you probably will be able to easily substitute for a person
you have known in the past or currently know. Miss [blank] Clover is a nice, elderly woman who lives in a run-down house at the end of the block. She plays the organ on Sundays at the Church and she has 50 cats (ok that may be a slight exaggeration). People see her on her electric scooter everywhere, and she’s always talking about God. Most people just avoid her, but she’s harmless and good-natured. Growing up, your Mom even took her out shopping and to appointments sometimes. Then one day Miss Clover is dead, and your parents are listed as her emergency contacts under next of kin. When you all go over to check things out at her house, everyone stares in horror and shock at the condition of her home. Miss Clover was a terrible hoarder. Now what?!
Call The Professionals
Now, is the time you make that very important phone call to those professional cleaners, remember? Just be sure the ones you call include the specialized service of cleaning up biohazards, like Crime Scene Cleaners. Both of the examples we used above were taken from real life situations that resulted in a biohazard. They were handled by Crime Scene Cleaners, professionals experienced and qualified in biohazard cleanups and waste disposal. If you need a cleaning company that can handle anything and has decades of experience doing it, give them a call. Also interested in bed bugs? Find out what does a bed bug looks like today!