All ethidium bromide solutions and gels must be collected and
treated as if it were a hazardous waste, unless the ethidium
bromide has been removed by one of the methods listed below. All
grossly contaminated materials such as gloves, wipes, etc. must
also be collected and placed in a properly labeled hazardous waste
There are alternatives to using ethidium bromide - contact EH&S for more information
Failure to remove ethidium from solutions prior to
disposal contaminates municipal wastewater systems and violates
water discharge regulations for the Town of Amherst and the City of
EH&S recommends the use of ethidium bromide waste reduction systems such as destaining bags or filter extractors. Removing the ethidium bromide from dilute solutions reduces the volume of liquid ethidium bromide waste and thus a savings on disposal costs for UB.
Destaining bags offer a way to remove ethidium bromide from solution and gels for safe and easy disposal. Continental Lab Products, ICS BioExpress, BioWorld (and others) offers Ethidium bromide destaining bags. When you get to the sites, type "destaining bags" in Search and it will take you to the ordering page.
Another device designed to remove ethidium bromide is the S&S Extractor from Schleicher & Schuell or VWR. This device is designed to remove from up to 10 liters of gel staining solutions with >99% efficiency.
Whatever waste reduction system used, a written protocol should be developed. An example procedure would include the following steps:
Using destaining bags:
Using filter extractors: