What is the Difference Between Hazmat and Biohazard?

What is the Difference Between Hazmat and Biohazard?

We’re sure you have heard the terms hazmat and biohazard before, but have you ever believed them to be interchangeable? You’re not alone, as this is easy to do given that they are similar in that they both deal with dangerous materials, but in reality, they have very specific (and different) definitions. Keep reading to learn the meaning of both terms, how they differ, and important things to note when it comes to either.

Hazmat and Biohazard defined

The National Ocean Service (NOAA) defines Hazmat (short for “hazardous materials”) as substances in quantities or forms that may pose a reasonable risk to health, property, or the environment. Hazmat examples include substances like toxic chemicals, fuels, nuclear waste products, and biological, chemical, and radiological agents and may be released as liquids, solids, gasses, or a combination or form of all three.

Biohazards are defined as any biological or chemical substance that is dangerous to humans, animals, or the environment. Examples of biohazards can include anything from bodily fluids and blood to sharp objects and human tissue and should be handled with extreme care given the potential danger they pose to anyone who comes in contact with them.

Main differences between the two

While the definitions of hazmats and biohazards may sound similar, there is a very important difference between them both. Hazardous materials are substances that can possibly harm the environment and don’t always pose a threat to humans if they come into contact with them. These substances, like acids, propane and gas, lead, and oil, can pose a big threat to the environment, but are often not considered to be toxic. On the other hand, biological hazards like bodily fluids and blood can contain infectious materials and pose a threat to the health and safety of any person who comes into contact with them. 

Since biohazards can be extremely dangerous if not handled properly, the protocols for properly cleaning and disposing of biohazardous waste are strict enough to be effective. Another important difference to note between the two is that “bio” refers to something that is living, and therefore can reproduce and spread easily, especially if not contained. Since Hazmat is not an active substance, it can’t spread. Biohazards are often found in controlled laboratories, medical settings, and healthcare facilities due to the nature of the substances whereas hazmats are often found in larger-scale (and non-controlled) environments including construction job sites, and manufacturing plants.

Why hire professional biohazard cleanup companies

Both hazmats and biohazards can be dangerous if not handled properly but all biohazardous materials should be handled with extreme sensitivity and disposed of carefully to avoid risking the health and safety of those handling the job. Professional cleanup companies that are certified in biohazard cleanup and recovery like Xtreme Cleaners have the knowledge, skills, proper equipment, and sensitivity to handle any job effectively and efficiently. 

Since biohazards can be dangerous due to the potential infectious agents, biohazard suits are typically more protective than hazmat suits, and professional biohazard cleanup companies follow all laws, regulations, and protocols regarding equipment and uniforms to ensure their teams are able to successfully handle any potentially hazardous material and contaminated scene. If you or someone you know needs professional biohazard cleanup help, give us a call any time at 800-524-9591.