Waste Disposal in Laboratory
May 6, 2024

There will inevitably be hazardous waste generated in a laboratory. If your organization does not implement proper waste disposal in laboratory, it can lead to environmental damage, safety issues for humans, and even a catastrophic accident.

Laboratory Waste

Chemical or Biohazardous wastes are the most common types of hazardous waste generated in a laboratory.

Biohazardous Waste

Biohazardous waste is typically referred to as biomedical, medical, or infectious waste. These waste materials are byproducts of treating diseases in animals and humans. This type of waste can include blood, anatomical waste, sharps, or pathological waste.

Chemical Waste

Chemical waste is any waste material or byproduct that contains chemical agents. This type of waste includes spent solvents, used oil, batteries, or items containing mercury.

Laboratory waste disposal management does not have to be complex or time-consuming. There are some steps your facility can take that will significantly impact the amount of waste your laboratory generates:

  • Using a thorough record-keeping system, your inventories should be kept up-to-date
  • Use substitutions for chemicals when possible
  • Avoid bulk quantity purchases
  • Recycle as much as possible. Some examples of recyclables are those that can be filtered or distilled, such as ethyl alcohol, xylene, and formalin
  • All chemicals should be managed as hazardous to ensure there is no contamination
  • Reduce the number and size of containers being used, especially those you are not regularly refilling
  • Ensure all hazardous waste is stored in appropriate containers
  • Validate all containers hold the hazardous waste listed on the label with all correct details for what is inside
  • Perform regular training sessions for employees on safety measures for adding waste and removing waste from storage containers

Proper Laboratory Waste Management

All facilities handling hazardous laboratory waste are responsible for proper disposal practices. If these dangerous materials are not handled properly, they become a danger to public health and the environment. All hazardous materials must be regulated from the time it is generated until it is at an off-site disposal facility.

All users of laboratory waste have to comply with the regulations and rules of their facility’s EHS (Environmental Health and Safety) office. This office is responsible for setting forth proper waste management systems that satisfy diverse standards developed by OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration.)

These are some of the laboratory waste disposal procedures typically encountered in a lab:

Expired Hand Sanitizer- Packing, Transportation and Disposal

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, hand sanitizers have become a necessity for maintaining and protecting public health. With this increased reliance, new challenges are generated. Just like most other products, hand sanitizer can expire.

Over time the components in a hand sanitizer will reach a point where it is no longer effective. Using an expired hand sanitizer will not provide the protection you seek. Proper disposal of these sanitizers is essential to protect the environment, as well as the safety and health of humans.

Laboratories that use a larger quantity and have a surplus of expired hand sanitizer must follow a more careful handling procedure. Laboratories or any facility with an excess amount of expired hand sanitizer should contact a local hazardous waste disposal professional, such as the Environmental Marketing Services.

Environmental Marketing Services will provide you with the specific instructions you need to follow for the safe packing, transportation, and disposal of this waste. Due to the hazardous waste component of expired hand sanitizers, it must be disposed of quickly and safely so your facility does not have a dangerous chemical sitting on the shelves.

Uranium and Thorium Compound Disposal

Radioactive gasses can be generated from the decay chain of thorium and uranium. If an old container of these materials is opened, it should be done under a fume hood. Radioactive waste disposal methods must be followed when disposing of these materials. Drain disposal of thorium or uranium is strictly prohibited. Contact the professionals at a radioactive material service and disposal facility, such as Environmental Marketing Services.

Pharmaceutical Waste

Pharmaceutical waste can include unused, expired, or contaminated products, biological products, or vaccines. Other items that end up in pharmaceutical waste disposal include over-the-counter medicines and any paraphernalia used, such as gloves, masks, or bottles.

Under RCRA (Resource Conservation and Recovery Act) regulations, pharmaceutical waste can be hazardous and should follow hazardous waste disposal procedures. These waste materials contain a large range of compounds that can pose a threat to the health of humans, animals, and the environment if not properly handled.

Due to the hazardous characteristics of pharmaceutical waste, you should contact the experts at Environmental Marketing Services for all disposal needs of these materials.

Picric Acid Stabilization and Disposal

Picric acid should be disposed of as hazardous waste within two years after purchase. This acid can become highly dangerous when it is dehydrated or if the cap on the container is old or metal. High-hazard waste disposal procedures will be required with possible remote opening steps being followed. Talk to the experts at Environmental Marketing Services if you have any questions or concerns regarding picric acid stabilization and disposal. 

Smoke Detector Disposal

Some smoke detector units contain radioactive material. Ionization detectors rely on a radioactive material known as Americium-241 which is safe for human exposure. These types of smoke detectors cannot be thrown in regular trash as they pose environmental threats. The batteries from these units should also not be thrown in the trash.

Contact an environmentally safe hazardous waste disposal service, such as Environmental Marketing Service to handle the disposal of both your smoke detector and batteries.

Cyanide Disposal

Cyanide is a hazardous substance that is regulated by EPA, DEP, IRIS, DOT, and OSHA. If your laboratory waste disposal includes cyanide, it should be in a dedicated waste container that only holds this material. The container must be labeled with the word ‘cyanide’ and closed securely. Contact the experts at Environmental Marketing Service to make disposal arrangements for this hazardous waste material.

Disposal of Mercury and Mercury Thermometers

All devices containing mercury have to be handled as hazardous waste. Mercury and mercury thermometers or any device containing mercury from your laboratory should be disposed of through a hazardous waste transporter, such as Environmental Marketing Services to a proper destination facility.

Expired Ethers Stabilization and Disposal

Over time ether can become extremely explosive as autoxidation reaction becomes prevalent from the peroxides in this material. Peroxides decompose violently if activated by even a slightly elevated temperature, friction when it is moved, an impact, or even at moderate temperatures.

If you have expired ether in your laboratory, you can evaporate the material in a safe fume hood. If you have a large quantity of ether, you should contact a professional hazardous waste disposal facility, such as Environmental Marketing Services.

Additional Laboratory Waste Disposal

Environmental Marketing Services offers unparalleled services in the industry for waste disposal in laboratory Above are some of the types of laboratory waste disposal we can provide, along with chemical waste, radioactive, universal, and more. Talk to one of our experts about our turnkey lab-pack services to learn our diligent approach to managing unusable and spent laboratory chemicals.

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