EPA and CDC conduct training on identification and proper disposal of hazardous biological and chemical laboratory waste

A growing accumulation of laboratory biological and chemical waste prompted the Government of Ethiopia to request for technical assistance in identifying and safely disposing of hazardous wastes.  Experts from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) responded with a week-long training that offered technical knowledge and skills to representatives from the Ethiopian Public Health Institute (EPHI), regional public health laboratories, National Animal Health Diagnostic Investigation Center (NAHDIC), Addis Ababa Fire Department, and Addis Ababa Science and Technology University.  The training introduced new approaches and provided resources to support the identification and management of hazardous biological and chemical waste.

While issues related to diagnostic laboratory waste management prompted the training, the skills gained are broadly applicable to chemical and biological hazards across various sectors.  The trainers also introduced the concepts of risk assessment (of biological and chemical hazards/materials), biosafety and biosecurity, and the selection and proper use personal protective equipment.  A portion of the training included a practical exercise where participants assessed a chemical storeroom using technical equipment and then discussed risk mitigation strategies.

The training supports the commitment of both EPHI and NAHDIC to developing Ethiopia’s capacity to detect and respond a broader range of diseases affecting humans and animals.  Some of these processes can potentially create biological and chemical waste, and the ability to properly manage such outputs is just as important for Ethiopia’s health sector as the ability to identify disease threats.  Through its commitment to seeking the capacity to manage hazardous waste, Ethiopia is demonstrating leadership in advancing global health security and in protecting people in Ethiopia and around the world from public health threats.

The training was conducted by the U.S. EPA’s Environmental Response Team (ERT) and the Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Consequence Management Advisory Division (CMAD with expert support from CDC.  The EPA’s ERT program provides foreign governments with technical and logistical assistance in responding to environmental emergencies, such as oil or hazardous materials spills as well as in the characterization and cleanup of hazardous waste sites.  EPA’s CMAD provides 24/7 scientific and technical expertise for all phases of consequence management, including sampling, decontamination, and clearance.  CDC co-facilitated training on the fundamentals of risk management, biosafety, and biosecurity in the laboratory setting.