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Waste Disposal

Please read these related areas on this site: Hazardous Chemicals and Chemical Information.

Hazardous waste must be collected and processed according to guidelines set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). All University departments and teaching units, including the organic chemistry teaching laboratories, must comply with these regulations. The university's Environmental Health and Safety Department (EH&S) works with the campus departments to train hazardous waste generators so that compliance is met. EH&S also collects properly tagged hazardous waste and ships it to appropriate disposal sites. There is a Generator's Guide to Waste Processing available online. Two major tenets of the EH&S guidelines are:

Any chemical that you no longer use is considered a hazardous waste. Each and every student in the organic chemistry teaching labs generates hazardous waste and is considered a "hazardous waste generator". Since you are the one producing the chemical waste, it is up to you to dispose of the waste properly. We have made this as easy as possible for you, by checking compatibilities and pre-calculating percent compositions of all the waste solutions you are likely to produce. All you have to do is follow directions.

What Goes Where

All hazardous chemical wastes are collected in the main hood of each lab room, an area that is a designated Satellite Accumulation Area (SAA). Place the waste as directed in the procedure section of each experiment in the Lab Manual. Waste receptacles include:

Waste rules

Secondary Containment

Each container of liquid waste must be placed in "secondary containment", which is a plastic tray/container that could hold the contents of the waste container if it breaks. Never take a waste container out of its secondary containment. Secondary containment is not only required for hazardous waste. (Dispensing bottles are also put in secondary containment, and you should return them to this secondary containment when you are done with the bottle.)

Waste carboys

How the Wastes Are Tallied

The contents of the waste receptacles must be known and written down at all times. This documentation must be in English and not as chemical formulas. When a waste bottle is full, the contents must be emptied into a larger waste drum, and the chemicals listed accurately on the hazardous waste disposal form. The composition of the waste is calculated assuming the students follow the directions given in the Wastes sections of each experiment.

Each week, a different experiment is carried out in the lab. Under each main hood is a tally sheet on a clipboard. This sheet lists in English the percentages of the components of the waste mixtures which the students produce in each experiment. There is a separate list for "Organic" and for "Aqueous" waste. At the end of each experiment, the waste is transferred to a larger waste drum, and the chemicals disposed of are written on an official Hazardous Waste disposal slip. When the waste drum is full, the slip and the waste drum are submitted to EH&S for proper disposal and handling.

The system only works if each student places the waste in the container as directed in the Lab Manual. This cannot be overstated.

Institution-Specific Information

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets the basic guidelines which govern the protection of our environment, including the disposal of hazardous wastes. State, county, and municipality agencies also regulate the handling of hazardous chemical wastes in the geographical areas under their jurisdiction. Most universities establish Environmental Safety or Environmental Health and Safety departments. The personnel in these departments work with local and federal agencies to establish a safety policy individual to their institution. Thus, the best source for hazardous waste handling disposal information is at the university which you attend. The links below take you both to government agencies and sample University safety pages.

University Health and Safety pages: