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Proper chemical management is necessary to protect the health and safety of the University and surrounding communities and the environment. There are federal and state regulations that require all generators of chemical waste to receive training and follow proper waste management and disposal procedures. These regulations have severe monetary and civil penalties associated with them. In recent inspections, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) determined that colleges and universities are receiving a failing grade in environmental programs such as waste management. Between 1990 and 2004, over twelve million dollars in fines have been levied against universities and colleges for hazardous waste and other environmental violations.
Chemical waste is defined by the United States Environmental Protection Agency and by the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control. Definitions, management practices and compliance are outlined in 40 Code of Federal Regulations and the Delaware Rules Governing Hazardous Waste. All policies and practices developed by the University of Delaware are designed to meet or exceed these regulations and assure compliance.
University Policy 7-18 states that all University of Delaware personnel must manage all chemical and hazardous waste in compliance with these federal and state regulations and in accordance with procedures set up by the Department of Environmental Health & Safety.
Chemical waste is a broad term and encompasses many types of materials. Consult your Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS), Product Data Sheet or Label for a list of constituents. These sources will tell you if you have a chemical waste that needs special disposal. To reduce its long-term liability, the University is proactive in managing all of its chemical waste in an environmentally sound manner. If there are any questions on whether a material must be managed through the chemical waste management program, contact EHS or call 831-8475.
Examples of Chemical Waste include, but are not limited to:
Liquid Chemical Waste
Once it is determined that chemical waste will be generated, a container must be selected prior to waste generation. For bulk solvent and aqueous liquid waste streams use a Low Density Polyethylene Nalgene container. These containers will be returned within a week to the lab and are available from most laboratory supply companies and the campus storerooms. Nalgene containers are compatible with most chemical wastes, but there are a few waste streams that should not be accumulated in these containers.
DO Not Use glass, plastic-coated glass or other re-used reagent chemical bottles to store or accumulate bulk liquid chemical waste.
Examples of chemical that should not be stored in Nalgene containers:
Certain types of Nalgene containers work best for DEHS' operations. Please try to purchase containers that meet the following requirements:
If Nalgene containers are not available you can also purchase gasoline containers from local hardware stores to store chemical wastes or you can reuse containers that the chemical was shipped in. Check the cap and container to assure that they are in good condition. Do not use containers that are old, dented, damaged, leaking or cracked. The container must be able to be capped, sealed or closed. The container must be compatible with the waste streams that will be placed in it. For example, do not use a metal container to store acids, do not use a glass container to store hydrofluoric acid, do not use glass or metal containers to store organic peroxides and do not use metal containers to store picric acid and solutions of picric acid. Do not use containers that can be confused with consumer commodities like soda bottles or milk jugs. Do not use metal containers for flammable liquid waste, unless proper bonding and grounding precautions are taken. If the operation will generate a large amount (more than 5 gallons) of waste at one time, contact DEHS to determine and supply the best type of container.
For bulk corrosive liquid waste streams, use the Justrite Safety Containers for Waste Disposal. These containers are specially designed for corrosive chemical waste and vent under emergency conditions. DO NOT store or accumulate bulk liquid corrosive chemical waste in any other container. Go to Liquid Corrosive Chemical Waste Management for more information on managing corrosive waste streams.
Do Not use containers that are old, dented, damaged, leaking or cracked. The container must be able to be capped, sealed or closed. The container must be compatible with the waste streams that will be placed in it. For example, do not use a metal container to store acids, do not use a glass container to store hydrofluoric acid, do not use glass or metal containers to store organic peroxides and do not use metal containers to store picric acid and solutions of picric acid. Do not use containers that can be confused with consumer commodities like soda bottles or milk jugs. Do not use metal containers for flammable liquid waste, unless proper bonding and grounding precautions are taken.
Clean Out of Chemicals, Cleaners, Paints, etc.
All areas should, on a periodic basis, inspect all of their stored chemicals. Look for chemicals that are no longer needed, old and out of date or unusable. Try to redistribute unneeded chemicals around the department or building. If no one else needs the chemical or if they are out of date or unusable, then package them as follows for disposal through DEHS:
Solid Waste Streams
Solid waste includes any material that has come in contact with a chemical or is potentially contaminated with a chemical. Examples include gloves, pads, papers, paper towels, clean up material, permanently contaminated glassware and plasticware, oil dry and oil contaminated debris. Review the Solid Waste Disposal Procedures for a flow chart that helps decide if a material requires management as chemical waste or if it can be placed in the normal trash. If the operation will generate a large amount (more than 5 gallons) of waste at one time contact DEHS to determine and supply the best type of container. Use the following procedures to manage solid chemical waste:
Chemically Contaminated Sharps
Anything that is capable of cutting or puncturing must be managed in a sharps container. Examples of sharps include needles, syringes, razor blades, slides, scalpels, pipettes, broken plastic or glassware, micropipettes and pipette tips. Sharps containers are available free of charge from DEHS. Review Sharp and Piercing Object Disposal for more information about sharps management. If a sharp is chemically contaminated, simply place it in a sharps container that is labeled with a properly filled out Orange Chemical Waste Label.
Empty Chemical Containers
Empty chemical containers are still hazardous to University personnel and the environment until they are properly managed. Review the Glass Only Disposal/Empty Chemical Container Disposal Procedures for complete information on empty container management. Below is a summary of the steps required to make empty chemical containers safe for disposal:
Waste Aerosol Cans
Aerosol cans, whether they are empty or not, can be extremely dangerous if they are improperly disposed. They can become a projectile if they are compacted in the back of a trash truck and can spray University personnel with hazardous materials. Empty aerosol cans may be recycled at any of the various campus recycling areas. Review Campus Computer, Electronic Equipment and Office Supplies Recycling for complete information on recycling. Use the following procedures for disposing of full or partially full aerosol cans:
Lead Acid and Sealed Batteries (excluding small alkaline batteries)
Recycling and Chemical Wastes
Certain materials such as alkaline batteries, computer and electronic equipment and toner cartridges can be recycled. Review the Recycling and Waste Minimization Resources for complete information on recycling.
After you have determined what waste you are going to generate and have obtained the appropriate containers, you must properly fill out a chemical waste label and attach it to the containers. Chemical waste labels are available from DEHS, free of charge. There are directions on the back side and they must be applied on all chemical waste containers as soon as waste is added. These labels are designed to meet the regulatory requirements, so every piece of information on the label is critical and must be completed.
How to Label:
Waste can be added only after you choose the proper container and it is labeled. All personal working with chemical waste must wear the following:
Procedure for liquid chemical waste management:
Procedures for solid waste management:
Proper storage of chemical waste is extremely important. Explosions have occurred on campus that are attributed to improper storage of chemical waste. If you improperly label a container, other laboratory personnel unknowingly may add incompatible material to the container. For example, if an organic solvent solution is added to a container that is not labeled or labeled as an aqueous inorganic acid, and a fellow researcher may generate an inorganic nitric acid solution and add it to the container. Nitric acid and organic solvents are extremely incompatible and the container over a short period of time generates pressure and explodes. Go to Chemical Storage for guidance. Adhere to the following procedures on chemical waste storage to protect the health and safety of others, protect the University's facilities and to keep the University in compliance with all federal, state and local regulations:
All satellite chemical waste accumulation areas must be inspected on a weekly basis. This inspection does not have to be a formal inspection with documentation but laboratory personnel must inspect all chemical waste stored in their laboratories to assure the following:
Certain departments and buildings have a Central Accumulation Area (CAA) set up in close proximity to their building. Laboratories in Brown, Lammot DuPont, and Drake Hall should take their waste to the CAA. Go to Chemical Waste Removal Process for complete information on the CAA's.
Once a chemical waste container is full, DEHS should be contacted to remove the container or it should be moved to the CAA. In addition, if a chemical waste container has been in a laboratory for more than a year, it should be removed. If your building does not have a CAA, follow the procedure below:
DEHS routinely encounter a group of common problems and issues with chemical waste. These common problems are listed below with suggestions to prevent them from occurring. The EPA has fined universities and colleges for the problems listed below. Your support in eliminating these problems will greatly reduce the University's liability.
Proper chemical waste management protects the health and safety of everyone and prevents or minimizes pollution. All generators of chemical waste should do their best to minimize the amounts or chemical waste they generate and recycle whenever possible. Please contact EHS or call 831-8475 with any questions regarding chemical waste.