Alaska medical waste disposal

In 2016, the universal biohazard symbol that is used to visually communicate the presence of known and potentially infectious biological material celebrated its 50th birthday.  According to The New York Times, the universal biohazard symbol was developed by Charles L. Baldwin, an Environmental Health Engineer, of Dow Chemicals in 1966.  Still in use today and largely unchanged from its original design, the universal biohazard symbol is the primary identifier for all classifications of regulated medical wastes (RMW) which are generally and sometimes specifically referenced as biomedical wastes, biohazardous waste, regulated medical waste, other potentially infectious materials (OPIM), or through its formal United Nations classification as UN 3291.

In describing the process of developing the symbol, Mr. Baldwin remarked:

“‘We tested the sample symbols across the country — the marketing department had survey groups to test different labels for Dow products. There were half a dozen of our original symbols in this survey of 24 different symbols. The rest were recognizable, like the peanut man for Planter’s peanuts, the Texaco star, the Shell Oil symbol, the Red Cross and the swastika. They were asked to look at them and then asked to guess at what each one meant. The biohazard symbol got the fewest guesses. Then we went back one week later to the same set of people and the same set of symbols, plus 36 more common ones, and asked them which of these did they remember the best. And they picked out the biohazard symbol.”

Interestingly enough, the symbol is well suited for Alaska’s unique environment as he continued to describe the design process:

“The color was blaze orange, one of the colors chosen in Arctic exploration as being the most visible under the most conditions. It was three-sided because if it were on a box containing biohazardous material and the box was moved around, transported, it might wind up in different positions.”

After the symbol was originally published, it was immediately adopted by numerous agencies involved with this particular waste stream including US Center for Disease Control (CDC), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

A technical diagram of the universal biohazard symbol from the NIH Laboratory Safety Monograph published in 1978 can be found below.


Universal Biohazard Symbol Diagram

Envirolaska Circle

We are fortunate to live and work in one of the most spectacular places in world, Alaska.  Our remoteness, climate, and geography further support our state’s uniqueness while making the process of delivering quality health care in our communities quite remarkable.  At Entech, we believe that we can make a difference in supporting the work of our state’s many providers through the delivery of compliant, cost effective, and environmentally focused medical waste disposal services.  Indeed, this is a significant part of our larger mission and the role we believe that we play in transforming waste into opportunity.

Though our services, products, and training offerings we hope to elevate the level of transparency involving Alaska’s medical wastes in efforts to reduce the volumes, impacts, and costs associated with managing potentially infectious materials.  We are working to accomplish this largely through the effective deployment of technology whether that be through our processing equipment, electronic management of transportation and destruction manifests, or through our world class compliance solutions which are accessible to all customers through any internet enabled devise.

We believe that we are supporting a new approach for medical waste management in Alaska and we feel privileged that you have taken the time to allow us to introduce our work to you.  We are committed to providing the highest level of service possible regarding medical waste disposal services while creating awareness of our activities, expanding our efforts to positively impact as many Alaskans as we can, while reducing the financial costs and environmental impacts associated with medical waste across our state.

We desire to develop long term relationships with practitioners across Alaska’s health care industry.  We are neighbors to many of these professionals and we stake the reputation of both our business and ourselves as individuals on our ability to deliver on  commitments made to our customers.  We want to work with you to help realize a shared objective of delivering the best possible health care for all of Alaska.  Entech believes that our role in this process is to provide exceptional service and value through all of our offerings so that our customers can keep their focus on quality patient care.

Entech offers a full array of services for Alaska’s health care industry, providing medical waste collection and disposal, medical waste supplies, USPS-authorizes return mail systems, and compliance training.  Our offerings exceed all applicable federal, state, and local regulations for the management and disposal of medical wastes.

Our hope for this blog is that you will consider it a resource to help learn more about our work while also providing us an opportunity to better understand your work and how we can most effectively serve your needs.

Please stay in touch with us to learn more about medical waste in Alaska and how we can put our services to work for you!