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Federal Regulation of Waste Disposal

Because of the varied nature of the products that require disposal in veterinary practices, more than one federal agency is involved in regulating the disposal process. Simply put, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates the disposal of products with environmental impact; the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulates factors associated with potential employee exposure to hazardous substances; the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) provides guidance pertaining to products used in the workplace that impact human and public health; and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) regulates the disposal of controlled substances.

However, many veterinarians are not aware that they are also subject to regulation by federal agencies such as the Department of Transportation (DOT), and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). Veterinary practices that ship hazardous materials (which can include chemicals used in practice or even laboratory specimens) are subject to DOT regulation. Practices that ship materials via air (such as laboratory specimens) are subject to regulation by the FAA (which enforces DOT regulations), and any practice that provides nuclear scintigraphy or radionuclide therapy is subject to regulation by the NRC.


For more details and access to regulatory materials, visit the links below.


Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA)

Department of Transportation (DOT) Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration

  • 49 CFR 171, 172, and 173: Discuss personnel training, packaging, and transporting requirements related to hazardous materials; these regulations are also enforced by the Federal Aviation Administration with regard to shipping specimens.

Center for Disease Control (CDC) National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)

Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)

Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)







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