Laboratory Chemical Disposal
March 18, 2024

Improper disposal of chemicals used in a laboratory can cause significant risks to human health, the environment, and the laboratory itself. There are ways to properly manage laboratory chemical disposal so there are no threats and to avoid hefty fines and penalties imposed by the EPA.

Proper laboratory chemical disposal practices reduce costs and maximize efficiency. Your facility must comply with all necessary regulations and your staff must be aware of proper waste management. These are some of the services provided by Environmental Marketing Service to assist and help you create a cost-effective and innovative solution to all disposal and recycling needs.

On-Site Chemical Material Identification and Inventory

One of the key components of proper laboratory chemical disposal management is identifying and segregating hazardous materials. Recognizing the threat these materials present is necessary so steps are taken to separate them from non-hazardous waste.

Identification and segregation of laboratory chemicals protect those working with the materials and those around the laboratory who may be exposed. This process also prevents costly cleanup efforts that could occur should these materials enter or contaminate other areas.

Keeping an updated and proper inventory of all laboratory chemicals will allow your facility to manage the materials before they expire. Expired chemicals can create a safety threat, and having to dispose of expired chemicals can become costly if your facility is small.

Reactive Materials Services

Materials on the reactive chemical list include organic peroxides, azides, picrate salts, ammonium perchlorate, and others classified as explosives. These are strong oxidizing agents that are air and water-reactive. When performing laboratory chemical disposal, one must wear protective equipment to handle these materials.

Reactive chemical management should include using the smallest amount of these materials as possible. Staff and anyone working with these chemicals should eliminate ignition sources, such as sparks, or open flames in the work area. When working with or disposing of reactive materials any sudden change in temperatures should be avoided.

Chemical Waste Lab-Pack Services

Lab-pack services involve packing your laboratory chemicals into several smaller containers which are then packed safely inside a larger drum. Lab chemical solutions often included in a lab-pack waste disposal process:

  • Solvents
  • Chemical reagents
  • Bases or acid
  • Oxidizers
  • Compressed aerosols and gasses
  • Drug Enforcement Administration substances
  • Cleaning and disinfecting solutions
  • Peroxides
  • Radioactive substances
  • Paint thinners, solvents, and paint
  • Unknown or unlabeled substances

Lab-pack disposal needs to be overseen by a highly trained professional to ensure the safety and effective removal of laboratory waste chemicals.

Medical Waste Disposal

Medical waste is typically waste generated in a healthcare facility. This waste is often contaminated by body fluids, blood, and potentially infectious materials. Other medical waste includes:

  • Biological specimens
  • Microbiologic cultures
  • Anatomy waste
  • Blood specimens
  • Blood products
  • Any body-fluid specimen

Medical and bio-medical waste disposal is regulated by state health departments and state environmental agencies. It is important to contact these departments before disposing of medical waste. Medical waste transportation is regulated by the Department of Transportation (DEA.) These materials fall under the hazardous materials regulations.

Pharmaceutical Waste Transportation

The pharmaceutical waste consists of needles, syringes, sharps, and scalpels. Other items to include in pharmaceutical waste pickup:

  • Bandages
  • IV tubing and bags
  • Contaminated gloves
  • Masks
  • Drugs containing non-hazardous and hazardous chemicals
  • Empty pill bottles or other receptacles
  • Blister packs
  • Liquid medicine containers
  • Ointment tubes

Pharmaceutical waste transportation should be done by a registered hazardous waste hauler such as the Environmental Marketing Service. Under this waste transportation, there are regulations to follow for DEA-controlled substances management.

DEA waste management involves monitoring to prevent the diversion of potentially illegal or dangerous substances. Compliance with these regulations requires constant diligence throughout the process and meticulous documentation.

On-Site Radioactive Material Identification and Inventory

A review of your facility’s inventory of radioactive materials ensures that only authorized radionuclides are present. This process will ensure your facility is posting all appropriate signs needed for radioactive areas. All containers with radioactive materials must have a label that is easy to see and read with the words, ‘Caution: Radioactive Material.’

Radioactive waste disposal must follow federal laws which state high-level and mixed waste (radioactive and hazardous) have to be vitrified. The process of vitrification is to change a substance into a glass or a substance-like glass.

Low-level radioactive waste management is pretty straightforward. Radioactive alpha, beta, and gamma sources disposal often require deep geological disposal methods. This is the most widely agreed upon solution for the final disposal of most radioactive waste.

Uranium compounds disposal and thorium compounds disposal cannot be handled as regular trash or as hazardous chemical waste. All thorium and uranium wastes are required to be disposed of as radioactive waste. Uranyl acetate disposal has high toxicity and should be designated as a ‘mixed waste’ (radioactive and hazardous.)Talk to the experts at Environmental Marketing Service to learn how to handle these items for your disposal needs.

Scintillation fluids disposal has to be kept separate from your other waste materials. Contaminated liquid scintillation has to be handled as a radioactive waste. Uncontaminated liquid scintillation fluid is considered chemical waste. Talk to the professionals at Environmental Marketing Service on how to handle the disposal requirements for these substances.

Another item under the radioactive category for your laboratory chemical disposal process is the smoke detector disposal. Smoke detectors, especially the ionization types have a small amount of radioactive material inside them. These items should be separate from your regular trash and labeled as hazardous waste and radioactive.

Tritium exit signs disposal are also handled as radioactive waste. When these signs are illegally placed in landfills, they can break and contaminate the site. These signs must be disposed of by a specifically licensed carrier.

Wastewater, Wash Water, and Rinse Water Disposal

If wastewater has been treated to primary quality, it will only be suitable for disposal underground through soil absorption trenches or mounds. If the wastewater is treated to secondary quality, it can be dispersed to land through:

  • Subsurface irrigation
  • Surface irrigation using drip, trickle, or spray points
  • sand mounds above the soil surface
  • Absorption beds and trenches
  • Beds that will remove water from land covered with vegetation through evaporation

Wash and rinse water should be collected and determined whether or not hazardous. If the water is deemed non-hazardous as it has no radioactive waste, untreated biohazardous waste, and no hazardous chemical waste, it can go down the drain.

If the wash or rinse water is deemed hazardous it should be emptied into a hazardous waste storage container. This wastewater management process involves emptying the water into a safe container, rinsing and emptying the original container, and then washing all equipment.

Wastewater removal or wastewater disposal should consist of containers being labeled with a hazardous waste tag. Wastewater transportation is handled by a hazardous waste transporter, such as Environmental Marketing Service.

Wastewater is one of the highest volumes of waste generated by businesses. This high volume presents the opportunity for wastewater recycling. The process of recycling this water begins with pre-screening. Pre-screening removes large debris, such as trash or rags. Then the water is sent through two extremely pressurized belts to squeeze everything in between them. This process removes the water from solid waste.

Universal Waste Management and Disposal

Universal waste includes batteries, pesticides, lamps, and disposal of mercury and mercury thermometers, computers, and televisions. As these items are considered hazardous, they fall under the federal universal waste regulations. When disposing of these items, they are required to be identified as hazardous waste.

Ensuring the Proper Handling During Laboratory Chemical Disposal

When laboratory chemical waste is mishandled, it can lead to serious risks. Containers must be identified properly as well as sealed correctly to prevent spills resulting in contamination and other accidents. Chemical waste treatment, chemical waste removal, chemical waste transportation and any other handling of these dangerous materials are government regulated and scrutinized. Your facility wants to work with a reliable and trustworthy partner when handling your laboratory chemical disposal needs.

Environmental Marketing Service has options that utilize the best technology. Contact us to learn how we can provide the most cost-effective and innovative solution to all your disposal and recycling needs.

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