Acids are chemical compounds that are able to neutralize a characteristic sour taste and a base. Acids are proton donors with a reacting base and can produce water. When acids react with metals, they are able to accelerate corrosion with the production of hydrogen gas.
Acids in the home setting, such as citric acid and acetic acid, are commonly found in vinegar and juices. Other acids are more harmful, and can be mass produced as byproducts from certain industries. These byproducts will need to be properly disposed of in order to protect people and the environment from short term and long term negative effects. Typically, acids are broken down into two categories: inorganic acids and organic acids. In this article, we’ll take a deeper look into the difference between organic and inorganic acids, the types of acids that need special disposal methods, where these acids come from, and the effects they can have on the environment if not disposed of properly.
Organic acids are organic compounds that have acidic properties. These are the weak acids that do not completely dissociate in a medium such as water. The organic acids have a lesser molecular mass and are not miscible in a neutral form (meaning they cannot be mixed).
Inorganic acids, also known as mineral acids, are derived from one or more inorganic compounds. These acids are corrosive and highly soluble in water. The inorganic acids are either oxygenless or oxoacids, and many are commonly found in laboratories and in many cleaning and other industrial type products. These are some of the products you will discover to be acidic and how to properly dispose of them.
- Some coil cleaners contain a powerful acidic or alkaline compound
- These cleaners have to be neutralized before they are discharged
- Any unused amounts of coil cleaners should be disposed of through a hazardous waste disposal service like Environmental Marketing Services, LLC
- Normally rust converters contain either a powerful alkaline compound or boric acid
- If you have unused amounts of rust converters, they should be disposed of through your hazardous waste disposal service like Environmental Marketing Services, LLC
Acidic Soldering Waste
- The acidic soldering waste is a hazardous waste as it is strongly acidic even when spent
- If acidic soldering waste is used with silver or lead solders, its waste solution will be considered a hazardous waste
- These materials should be safely collected and then disposed of through a hazardous waste service like Environmental Marketing Services, LLC
Floor and Wax Strippers
- These floor strippers contain potent alkaline compounds when they are new
- These materials should be used before they are discharged
- If you have any unused amounts of floor wax strippers you want to discard, they should be sent to a hazardous waste disposal service like Environmental Marketing Services, LLC
Swimming Pool Chemicals
- If you have any unused amounts of swimming pool chemicals you want to discard, such as muriatic, or nitric, they should be sent through a hazardous waste disposal service
- Any unused amounts of swimming pool chemicals such as ‘pool shock’, bleach solutions, or sodium hypochlorite, they should also be sent through a hazardous waste disposal service like Environmental Marketing Services, LLC
- Your drain cleaners contain powerful alkaline compounds when they are new
- These materials should be used before being discharged
- Any unused amounts you want to discard of should be sent through a hazardous waste disposal service like Environmental Marketing Services, LLC
You do not want to accumulate acids, solvents, or bases together. Each of these materials needs to have a separate container, and they should be stored where they cannot mix should a leak occur in any of the containers.
When you have used acidic or alkaline waste, it should be collected as hazardous waste and kept in containers that have a tight seal. If you use these chemicals with metals, the metals have to be identified on the label of the container.
Any rags or towels that have been used to apply bases or acids need to be collected and disposed of in separate containers from the spent liquids.
More Information on Alkaline Wastes
Almost two billion tons of alkaline wastes are produced across the world each year, and these wastes can contaminate groundwater and rivers if not properly managed and disposed of. Alkaline waste can be found in either solid form or a more sludge-like form. Alkaline waste forms as a byproduct from steel, coal, aluminum, waste incineration or construction industry. You may not have known that alkaline wastes are toxic to the environment, but they are. If alkaline wastes seep into aquatic ecosystems, it can raise the water pH and metal concentrations, and consume the oxygen that the aquatic life needs to survive. Not only would it disrupt and harm those ecosystems, but it could potentially harm cities freshwater supplies as well.
The most widespread and chronic environmental impact of alkaline wastes is that of the leachate on receiving waters, especially with old and abandoned disposal sites. Leachate can be defined as a liquid that passes through a landfill and has extracted dissolved and suspended matter from it. The geochemical behaviour of the alkaline leachate depends on the chemistry of the infiltrating water; the physicochemical composition and age of the residue; the nature of any co-deposited wastes; the hydrogeological setting (e.g. flow rates, redox status, residence time of water); the properties of the native ground, and the receiving water chemistry (Mayes et al., 2008).
Proper Disposal of Acid Waste and Bases
Basically, you should not ever dispose of chemicals down the drain. Make sure you are always using the proper container to store the chemicals when not using them. The appropriate container to store these chemicals would be a waste carboy that has been designated for bases and acid use and then disposed of through a hazardous waste disposal service, like Environmental Marketing Services, LLC. We can assist with any waste removal needs or suggest an alternative solution.
Disposing of Chromic Acid Waste and Dichromate Solutions
Chromic acid waste solutions are a mixture of concentrated potassium dichromate and sulfuric acid. These chemicals are used to clean your laboratory glassware as it oxidizes most residues as it eats a thin layer of the glass surface, and leaves behind a clean, new surface. While many labs use these chemicals, it is not recommended due to the following issues:
- When hexavalent chromium is present in the above solutions is a carcinogen.
- Chromic acid waste is a strong oxidizer and is known to react violently, even explode, when combined with oxidizable materials
- When you add halogens or chloride to chromic acid cleaning solutions, it can create a highly toxic and volatile carcinogen. Because of this danger, it is highly recommended that you use chemical fume hoods for these materials.
- Chromic acid cleaning solutions cannot be neutralized and cannot be flushed into the sewer system because chromium metal will remain
- There are a lot of non-toxic, biodegradable cleaning solutions you can use instead of chromic acid. These are a few-
– Pierce RBS-35
– Ultrasonic baths
– Biodegradable surfactants
What You Should Know About Acid Waste Disposal
All chemicals, including acid waste, have to be disposed of when it is no longer wanted or needed by your facility. You will need to avoid mixing different types of chemicals, and you need to choose the appropriate container for the waste stream for your acid waste.
For containing your concentrated acids or bases, you should have an ‘acid’ bottle measuring 2.5 liters. One gallon glass bottles will not work for base, or acid waste as the high specific gravity of the chemical and the thinness of the one-gallon glass containers increases the risks of the container breaking.
Remember, the container will need to have a cap, and each of the containers you use needs to be labeled with what is inside. You should not place more than eighty percent into any container to prevent spillage. The container should then be sealed airtight with the proper screw cap. Once eighty-percent filled, labeled, and properly sealed, you need to clean and decontaminate the top and sides of each container.
Transportation and Contingency Plan for Disposing Acid Waste
Acids should never be stored or transported in metal containers. The container must be labeled correctly and stored in the vehicle where it cannot shift, spill, or break.
When acids are used and especially when acid waste is being transported for disposal, accidental spills or leaks can occur. Any laboratory and all transportation vehicles should have the required emergency equipment on hand that can sufficiently absorb any of the acidic material.
The equipment that should be readily available includes lime, soda ash, or sodium bicarbonate to handle small spills. The acid waste should then be shoveled into a container and properly labeled. The area then needs to be washed with a significant amount of water. Do not allow the residue from this spill to contaminate nearby rivers or creeks.
Environmental Marketing Services, LLC is the expert on handling, storing, labeling, transporting, and disposing of any hazardous or acid waste your facility generates. Speak with us if you have questions on handling your acid waste or need to set up our services to manage your facility’s hazardous waste disposal. Our professionals at Environmental Marketing Services are here to assist you with any waste removal needs, or suggest an alternative solution!