2024 journal article

Use of semi-permeable bag materials to facilitate on-site treatment of biological agent-contaminated waste

Waste Management.

By: P. Lemieux*, A. Touati*, J. Sawyer*, D. Aslett*, S. Serre*, B. Pourdeyhimi n, P. Grondin n, T. McArthur*, A. Abdel-Hady*, M. Monge*

Source: ORCID
Added: March 1, 2024

Clean up following the wide-area release of a persistent biological agent has the potential to generate significant waste. Waste containing residual levels of biological contaminants may require off-site shipment under the U.S. Department of Transportation's (US DOT) solid waste regulations for Category A infectious agents, which has packaging and size limitations that do not accommodate large quantities. Treating the waste on-site to inactivate the bio-contaminants could alleviate the need for Category A shipping and open the possibility for categorizing the waste as conventional solid waste with similar shipping requirements as municipal garbage. To collect and package waste for on-site treatment, a semi-permeable nonwoven-based fabric was developed. The fabric was designed to contain residual bio-contaminants while providing sufficient permeability for penetration by a gaseous decontamination agent. The nonwoven fabric was tested in two bench-scale experiments. First, decontamination efficacy and gas permeability were evaluated by placing test coupons inoculated with spores of a Bacillus anthracis surrogate inside the nonwoven material. After chlorine dioxide fumigation, the coupons were analyzed for spore viability and results showed a ≥6 Log reduction on all test materials except glass. Second, filters cut from the nonwoven material were tested in parallel with commercially available cellulose acetate filters having a known pore size (0.45 μm) and results demonstrate that the two materials have similar permeability characteristics. Overall, results suggest that the nonwoven material could be used to package waste at the point of generation and then moved to a nearby staging area where it could be fumigated to inactivate bio-contaminants.