Chemical Waste Guide
- Obtaining Chemical Waste Disposal Tags
Chemical Waste Disposal Tags (tags) can be obtained by contacting EHS at 979-845-2132. Tags will be sent via campus mail. Tags may be picked up at 1 Research Park, room 220. This is a preferred method if a large number of tags are required.
- Chemical Waste Disposal Tags
This Chemical Waste Disposal Tags are green and require less writing.
The manila tags are no longer accepted.
Attach a Chemical Waste Disposal Tag to a container when waste is added to the container. Write down every constituent of the waste added.
Each constituent should only be written down once. Each container of waste must have a tag attached.
In the “Must Mark” area please indicate the hazards associated with the waste.
- Lab Clean Out Procedure
Lab personnel dispose of a large number of chemicals when a lab is decommissioned for closure or when moving. The lab decommissioning procedure is located at https://ehsd.tamu.edu/Pages/Lab-RegDecom.aspx. These clean outs often require a significant amount of time completing Chemical Waste Disposal Tags. Contact Dave Rice at 845-1220 before beginning the disposal of a large number of chemicals. Because regulations require every container be tagged before entering the Chemical Waste Storage Facility, EHS has established protocols that may reduce the effort in tagging.
- Waste Containers
Waste containers are selected by lab and shop personnel for the majority of waste on campus. A waste container must be safe to transport and contain the waste until final disposal. Original containers, properly marked and handled, are the safest selection. Containers should be glass or polyethylene with an original lid. Metal cans may only be used for non-corrosive solvents. Containers must be rinsed and allowed to dry completely. This is to prevent a possible reaction with waste added later.
The original labels must be defaced and the word “waste” written on them. A Chemical Waste Disposal Tag should be attached when the first waste is added. The basic information should be completed on the tag. All waste containers should be stored in a designated area under the control of the generator. This is done to both comply with federal and state regulations and to prevent misidentification of chemicals.
The container should be open only when adding waste. Each waste or constituent of a waste mixture is written on the tag as it is added. A full chemical name is required as abbreviations and formulas can be misinterpreted. A waste chemical requires only one entry per tag, even if added multiple times.
Add waste to containers carefully. All reactive processes of an experiment should be completed prior to bottling the waste. The pH should be considered before mixing waste. Waste that is reacting, even slightly, can result in a violent over pressurization of a container. Inorganic acid waste and organic waste must never be mixed. Several incidents of over pressurizing of waste containers have resulted in lab personnel injuries at campuses nationwide.
A waste container is full when the liquid reaches the neck of the bottle. This head space allows for thermal expansion while the chemical is in storage.
- Contaminated Debris
The vast majority of waste debris created through normal lab use is classified as solid waste and is to be disposed of in normal trash (municipal waste). This material includes such items as pipette tips, gloves, paper towels, and blue pads and is considered contaminated by “incidental contact”. This includes empty original containers. Remember to deface the labels of these containers prior to disposal.
Material such as blue pads, paper towels, and absorbents used in a chemical spill are classified as a hazardous waste. Collect this type of material in a sealable, leak-proof container and tag with a Chemical Waste Disposal Tag. A Zip-lock bag will often suffice.
There are two chemical groups that will always be disposed of as hazardous waste. The first is a limited list of chemicals identified as acute toxins. This list can be found at on the Code of Federal Regulations: Title 40 Environmental Protection website. These acute toxins are referred to as “p-listed” waste and are not commonly seen in research labs.
The second group is dioxin waste materials. Dioxins are environmentally persistent toxins.
Both dioxins and p-listed waste require that all containers and all contaminated material be disposed of as hazardous waste. These are chemicals not commonly seen on campus.
- Ethidium Bromide Waste
Ethidium Bromide (EtBr) is a very common chemical waste from several disciplines. Labs request disposal of EtBr waste in three forms: liquid, gel, and debris. Each form of waste will take a different route or method of disposal, so it is important to keep them separated.
Liquid EtBr waste is best collected in glass jars; emptied and rinsed four liter solvent jars seem to be the most common choice. The method is the same as with other chemical waste, remember and to deface the label and use a Chemical Waste Disposal Tag.
Labs that produce a high volume of EtBr waste may wish to use 20 liter carboys. If you are interested in using this time saving method, please contact Dave Rice at 845-1220 to discuss the process.
EtBr gel waste is best collected in the “bag in box” method. First, select a box sturdy enough to support a quantity of gels. Place a sturdy bag inside the box. Keep the bag closed except when adding gels. The bag should be considered full before it reaches a weight that the box can support. When full, seal the bag, secure the box closed with tape, and tag with a chemical waste tag.
Do not use a biohazard bag unless a pathogen was used. The Hazardous Waste Group cannot process any waste presented in a biohazard bag. Contact the Research Compliance and Biosafety Office for disposal of this material.
EtBr debris should be processed in the same manner as described in section 1 of this guide. Remember items contaminated by incidental contact are considered municipal waste while heavily exposed material, such as spill cleanup items, are hazardous waste.
- Battery Recycling
Alkaline batteries are not recycled on campus. EHS encourages the use of recyclable batteries, wherever possible, as an environmentally friendly alternative.
Spent rechargeable, lead acid, mercury, and lithium ion batteries from TAMU or departmental equipment may be processed through the Chemical Waste Program. Prepare the batteries by insulating the terminals with tape, bag or box for transportation, and attach a Chemical Waste Disposal Tag. The batteries will be processed for recycling by EHS.
Single use lithium ion batteries are recycled by a separate program. Attach a Chemical Waste Disposal Tag for processing.
*The Hazardous Waste Program is for official use only. Public recycling drop boxes are located in several buildings on campus (Evans Library, MSC, etc.).