Spring Cleaning: Laboratory Chemical Disposal
April 13, 2022

Many hazardous wastes can create an immediate health risk to those who come into contact with them. These wastes can include contaminated solids, chemical byproducts, and anything in between. Chemical waste disposal is a must, and a spring clean is necessary to ensure all unused portions of your chemicals, or outdated chemicals are disposed of responsibly.

Spring cleaning your lab is important to remove the unneeded, outdated, and unused chemical waste. The disposal of these hazardous materials is regulated by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency.) You and other lab members cannot dispose of these materials in the regular trash or your facility’s sewer system. Contact Environmental Marketing Services to learn how to safely and properly perform chemical waste disposal.

Why a Spring Cleaning is Important in the Lab

Scientists and others who use laboratories are not always the neatest. When you walk into a lab there are often areas littered with unidentified powdery substances and sinks full of unwashed labware. It is important to clean a lab because microorganisms and chemicals will quickly contaminate your benches, incubators, and freezers if they are not cleaned properly. These uncleaned labs can become a potential danger for those who work in them and for any samples being used or stored in the area.

If your lab has not been cleaned on an annual basis, there may be a lot of outdated or expired materials you will need to dispose of properly. Some of the items to check carefully are:
– Reagents
– Experimental samples
– Dirty glassware that contains old chemicals
– Expired chemicals
– Portions or half bottles of used chemicals

A lab is often full of inadequate handovers when staff and students end their contracts in the area. If you want to prevent having to do a marathon spring clean every year, follow these tips:
1. Create regular cleaning schedules for culture hoods, incubators, pipettes, water baths, and emptying bins.
2. Defrost your freezers of built-up ice.
3. Have a protocol for decontaminating work areas.
4. Make sure all new staff is thoroughly trained on existing procedures regarding hazardous materials and how to organize them.
5. When staff members leave the lab, have an exit interview for them to run through any samples they’ve left and learn if it is necessary to leave them for continuing projects.

How to Perform Chemical Waste Disposal During Spring Cleaning

To perform a cleanout of your chemical waste, follow these steps, and if you have any questions contact Environmental Marketing Services:

1. Store Appropriately

Chemical waste should be stored in appropriate containers, such as plastic or glass bottles. Plastic bottles are a better choice if you are not concerned with compatibility. These materials should be stored by compatibility and not alphabetically.

2. Label all Containers

All materials for your chemical waste disposal have to be properly labeled with this information:
Chemical’s full name and the quantity of the waste. If there are mixed materials, each chemical has to be listed. You are not allowed to use abbreviations, ditto marks, or acronyms as these do not comply with the Hazard Communication Standard.
– Date the waste was generated
– Place the waste was generated, such as room number, department, etc.
– PI’s telephone number and name
– Bottle number assigned on corresponding waste sheet
– Tag or label must indicate in writing “Hazardous Waste”

3. Complete HWI (Hazardous Waste Information) Form

A completed Hazard Waste Information Form has to be submitted to the EHS office. Follow the instructions on the back of the form, or talk to Environmental Marketing Services if you are unsure how to fill in this form. It must include:
– Chemical’s full name and the quantity of waste remaining. If there are mixes, you must list each chemical, along with its volume or weight. Do not use acronyms, abbreviations, or ditto marks as these are not accepted under the – – Hazard Communication Standards
– The date the waste was generated
– The place it was generated such as room number, department, etc.
– PI’s phone number and name
– A contact name who can answer any questions and open the door
– Bottle number assigned on a bottle, in numerical order
– An account or speed type number

4. Completed Form Should be Sent to EHS (Environmental Health Safety) Office

The completed form from number 3 should be sent to the EHS office. Make sure all your containers are separately sealed and tagged. If a container is found to be leaking, it cannot be removed. Talk to the experts at Environmental Marketing Services if this has occurred to learn what your options are for these materials.

5. Contact Your Local Chemical Waste Disposal Service

Once you have collected, sealed, labeled, and stored materials for chemical waste disposal, contact the professionals at Environmental Disposal. There are strict guidelines and laws to follow regarding the disposal of chemicals that threaten human life or the environment.

Spring Cleaning and Regularly Cleaning Your Lab

When you perform your spring clean in your lab, and whenever you do routine cleaning, you want to ensure that rigorous protocols are used for decontaminating work areas and proper chemical waste disposal rules are followed. The staff helping with your lab cleaning tasks must be thoroughly trained on protocols and procedures and fully understand the laws and guidelines for chemical waste disposal.

These are some steps you can follow for lab cleanouts and spring cleaning:

1. Create a schedule for cleaning time

It can get hectic in a lab, making cleaning an inconvenient chore. Cleaning is important, however, as, without it, all your hard work could be ruined or wasted. This waste can be a result of samples or materials getting contaminated because the lab is dirty.

2. Schedule Should Be Created for Regular Cleanings- not just springtime

When you clean your lab on a regular schedule, the spring clean-up will not have to be as intense. It can be dangerous for a lab to become dirty, especially in your weighing stations. If there are leftover chemicals, such as powders or liquids, they can be harmful to others who need to use the space where they are laying.

3. Ensure Proper Cleaning Solutions are Used

Whenever a lab cleaning is performed, you should ensure you are using the proper cleaning solutions for the different materials used in your lab. Most of your labware can be washed with water and detergent in a sink right after being used to prevent residue from building up. Some of your chemicals, such as the insoluble organic solutions will require rinsing them with acetone or ethanol to remove all deposits.

To clean labware, you can use one of these specialized methods:
– Dishwasher
Dishwashers in a lab should be specialized so they prevent cross-contamination between the rinse and wash cycles. These machines are designed to use high temperatures to clean lab glassware and often have accessories designed for the different labware, such as Petri dishes, test tubes, and pipettes.

– Pipette Cleaners
If your lab uses re-usable pipettes, these can be cleaned in a jug that fills and siphons water continuously, or by rinsing and washing them through direct injection baskets. If you use handheld pipettes, you can clean them by dismantling them. You should replace any damaged ones or old O-rings, and rinse individual pieces with appropriate solutions.

– Sterilization
There are a lot of sterilization methods. Most lab glassware and consumables are able to be sterilized through steam autoclaving. This method uses high temperatures and pressure. If your lab has medical equipment, such as stents, or catheters, you can only use sterilization by ethylene oxide gas. Products such as medical devices and pharmaceuticals will require gamma irradiation.

– Ultrasonic Cleaners
An ultrasonic cleaner will use sound waves to remove dirt from your glassware. The sound waves can be used with solutions to remove particles. Do not use solutions with a low flashpoint to avoid the risk of them igniting.
– Dispose of Old Samples and Reagents

When spring cleaning your lab, you want to dispose of all spoiled reagents and degraded samples. These old materials are typically just sitting around collecting dust and can be thrown away.

Where to Learn More About Spring Cleaning a Lab and Chemical Waste Disposal

Environmental Marketing Services are the professionals to contact if you have questions on spring cleaning your lab, or need information on chemical waste disposal. We are here for you and your organization and will help you create an innovative and cost-effective solution for your chemical waste disposal, and recycling needs, and also answer any questions you may have regarding the cleaning of your lab.

You may also like
April 8, 2024

Schools, colleges, laboratories, and government agencies all use many different chemicals in day-to-day operations. A key priority for all these industries is having a sustainable and safe waste management system…

April 1, 2024

When hazardous wastes are mismanaged, there is a threat to the environment and human health. To ensure these waste materials are properly handled, the RCRA (Resource Conservation and Recovery Act)…

April 1, 2024

An episodic event is when an incident that doesn’t normally occur during a hazardous waste generator’s operations ends up with the generator exceeding the limits that are normal for their…