Every day in California, people die in bed. In some cases, people experience traumatic deaths which result in blood staining a mattress. In other situations, people die, and their remains aren’t immediately discovered, resulting in fluids contaminating a mattress.
Disposal of Uncontaminated Mattress
If a person passes away in bed from natural causes, and the body is discovered within a day or two, there likely will be no issue with blood or biohazard contamination of the mattress. In such a situation, if the family of the deceased individual desires, the mattress can be disposed of through normal channels in California.
The state of California requires that mattresses be recycled and not simply thrown away. There are specific recycling centers in California, including in the greater Los Angeles area, that accept mattresses for recycling. Information on the California mattress recycling program can be found at Bye Bye Mattress. The website provides a recycling center locater for your convenience.
Disposal of Contaminated Mattress
Due to their design, mattresses are difficult, if not impossible, to clean appropriately and to sanitize. The stark reality is that when fluids, including blood and other bodily liquids, get into a mattress, they can contaminate it entirely, seep into the box springs, and even through that component of a bed and onto the floor.
If a person dies in bed because of some sort of trauma, or if an individual dies and is not discovered for more than a couple of days, there will be blood or other bodily fluids on the mattress. In fact, blood or bodily fluids will have soaked into the mattress itself. When this happens, a mattress cannot be turned over to a recycling center as is the normal protocol. Additional steps must be taken.
A recommended process of addressing a mattress contaminated in this manner involves cutting and removing any part of it contaminated with blood or other bodily fluids. The cutting and removal must be thorough – no contaminated mattress material can remain.
When dealing with a contaminated mattress, you need to follow what commonly are called standard or universal infection control guidelines for your own safety. These include wearing:
- Eye covering
The elements of a mattress that contains blood or bodily fluids must be treated like biohazardous medical waste. California maintains strict regulations regarding the disposal of biohazardous waste.
This contaminated material cannot be disposed on in your trashcan. It must be placed in a red bag or red box, a receptacle specifically designed to contain biohazardous waste. The contaminated mattress elements must be given to an appropriately certified biohazard waste disposal company for safe incineration.
The remaining part of the mattress that was not contaminated can be disposed of through normal channels. Again, in California, this means sending it to a recycling center.