Hazardous waste must be managaged by a comprehensive program that follows the hazardous waste regulations provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC).
All hazardous chemical waste containers must be labeled with the contents. Labels are available and instructions are listed on the back. Failure to list the contents can lead to a material becoming an unknown hazardous waste. Determining the contents of an unknown chemical is an involved and costly process.
Follow these guidelines when handling hazardous waste:
Aqueous mixtures with alcohols such as ethanol (greater than 24%), methanol, isopropyl, etc. must be collected and treated as hazardous waste. Ethanol concentrations of 24% or less are acceptable for drain disposal.
When hazardous waste containers in laboratory satellite accumulation areas are no more than 90% full:
Battery recycling receptacles are intended for intact and non-leaking alkaline and universal waste batteries only.
Do not place vehicle batteries, trash, gloves, paper, toner cartridges, chemicals, plastic (other than plastic bags containing batteries) in the receptacles.
Batteries used in vehicles such as cars, trucks, motorcycles and heavy equipment will not be collected under this program.
The majority of batteries generated at the UB are of the alkaline type. They may carry brand names such as Duracell or Energizer. Battery recycling pails are provided at various campus locations to recycle your AAA, AA, C, D and 9 Volt alkaline or carbon zinc batteries.
Recycle alkaline batteries in receptacles placed at the following campus locations.
Many batteries contain toxic and hazardous materials such as mercury, lead, cadmium, silver and sulfuric acid. The United States Environmental Protection Agency has designated these as universal wastes rather than hazardous wastes with the goal of promoting recycling. Although not hazardous wastes, these batteries must still be managed in an environmentally correct manner.
Universal wastes cannot be placed in the regular trash. Designated boxes areprovided for recycling. Rechargeable batteries must be placed separately in a provided plastic bag. Do not place alkaline or carbon zinc batteries in the designated boxes.
Universal waste batteries include:
Recycle rechargeable or lead acid batteries in receptacles placed at the following campus locations. You may also recycle at local area stores that provide battery recycling service (Best Buy, The Home Depot or Lowe's).
Even if a chemical is not a “hazardous waste” by the USEPA definition or listing, the town and city wastewater discharge permits for the North and South Campuses, respectively, do not allow hazardous chemicals down the sink or other drains.
The ONLY aqueous solutions in normal laboratory volumes (<1 gallon) that may be drain disposed must have a pH between 5 and 9 and DO NOT CONTAIN:
The following solutions are unacceptable for drain disposal. Containerize them as hazardous waste instead.
Note: Gels (agar, electrophoresis plates, gelatin) that contain hazardous substances of biological, chemical or radiological nature must be containerized and disposed of as hazardous waste. If they do not contain hazardous substances, they do not need to be containerized, but they should not be disposed of through the drain system. They could clog and stop the drain. In addition they can provide a coating on the pipes that will allow bacterial growth and subsequent colonization of “drain flies” that are very difficult to eradicate.
Containerize them for proper disposal instead.
A container that held any hazardous materials (e.g. flammable solvents, toxic solvents, heavy metal salts, etc.) is empty if all wastes have been removed that can be removed using the practices commonly employed to remove materials from that type of container (e.g., pouring, pumping, and aspirating) AND it does not contain acutely hazardous waste.
If the waste container held acutely hazardous waste, the container MUST be triple rinsed using a solvent capable of removing the residual chemical product before disposing of the container:
If the container that held acutely hazardous materials is not triple rinsed, then it is not empty and the CONTAINER MUST have a hazardous waste label attached and be properly disposed of as hazardous waste.
When empty, so it is clear that the container no longer contains hazardous materials, do one of the following:
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 container.
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 Buffalo.
The use of ethidium bromide waste reduction systems such as destaining bags or filter extractors are recommended. 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:
The creation of mixed waste that contains toxic or corrosive materials, transuranic elements, or high levels of radioactivity is strongly discouraged. Whenever possible, avoid using hazardous chemicals and radioisotopes in combination. Contact EH&S at 829-3301 for recommended non- hazardous chemical substitutes and ideas for minimizing the generation of mixed wastes.
Whenever possible, disinfect infectious waste at the source of generation.
Containers and Storage: Collect non-sharps infectious waste which is also contaminated with chemicals (mixed waste) in a red biohazard bag. After the infectious agent has been disinfected, place the red biohazard bag in a second, clear plastic bag. Add absorbent material (such as diatomaceous earth) to the second bag, sufficient to absorb fluids which may leach from the waste.
Seal and attach a completed hazardous waste label to the clear bag. On the “Contents” section of the tag it is important to note both the chemical waste and the infectious waste and the disinfection method that was used.
Sharps containers must not contain free liquids (such as full syringes). When the sharps container is full; seal and remove it from the collection area. Place the container in a clear plastic bag and seal it. Attach a hazardous waste label and list all chemical and infectious agents and the method of deactivation/disinfection used.
A hazardous chemical waste, as defined by the USEPA, combined with a radioactive waste, as defined by the NYS Department of Health, is classified as mixed waste. This type of waste is initially treated as radioactive waste. If the radioactive component of the waste has a half-life less than 90 days, then it will be stored for decay and eventually dispose of as chemical waste. When the radioactive component of the mixed waste has a half-life greater than 90 days, the waste is much more expense to dispose of than separate hazardous chemical or radioactive waste. Used liquid scintillation fluid may or may not be considered a special type of mixed waste. In either case, the waste must be segregated and picked up for disposal as described in the sections above.
Chemicals that cannot be identified are considered unknown hazardous wastes. By law, waste that is "unknown" cannot be picked up from your lab. It is the responsibility of each laboratory, shop or chemical user to identify and know the contents of all hazardous wastes.
Determining the contents of an “unknown” hazardous waste is an involved and costly process and also presents unique concerns and hazards for chemical waste handlers, Facilities staff, and to the environment. Please take care to avoid creating “unknown”
Determining the contents of an “unknown” hazardous waste is an involved and costly process and also presents unique concerns and hazards for chemical waste handlers, UB EHS staff, and to the environment. Please take care to avoid creating “unknown” hazardous wastes in your laboratory.
If your are unable to identify the unknown, a sample will be obtained for analysis to be performed by an outside laboratory. This process can be expensive; in most cases the costs will be borne by the lab or person(s) generating the unknown hazardous wastes.
To avoid generating unknown hazardous wastes in the future follow these steps:
Refer to the Hazardous Waste Management Guidebook for guidance for other types of wastes. Shown below are typical laboratory wastes that must be disposed of in accordance with applicable regulations.
Fixers contain some silver which must be treated or recovered before it can be disposed of. There are two options available for this material:
The following are reagents that contain mercury and should be managed as hazardous wastes:
Dobbin’s Reagent, Hayem’s Solution, Hopkins-Cole Reagent, Hubb’s Reagent, Jacquemart’s Reagent, Knapp’s Solution, Mercresin, Meyer’s Solution, Millon’s Reagent, Morell’s Solution, Nessler’s Reagent, Rohrbach’s Solution, Sachsse’s Solution, Spiegler’s Reagent, Tanret’s Reagent and Tyrosine Reagents
Other hazardous regents include:
Broken glassware should be placed into an appropriate broken glassware container (hard sided container such as a cardboard box). The container must be sealed and taped shut to prevent injury. Since they will be picked up by custodial staff, these containers should be labeled with the words Broken Glass.
Do not place broken glassware, pipettes or other sharp-edged materials of any type into the regular trash.
Waste aerosol spray cans still containing product are considered hazardous waste and must be disposed of properly.