According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), there are 4 characteristics that make a waste hazardous: ignitability, corrosivity, toxicity, and reactivity. Wastes of these types must be handled and disposed of in ways that are safe for the environment and those handling them.
Packaging Hazardous Chemicals:
It is important to put hazardous chemicals in containers that are appropriate for the waste. Mixing incompatible wastes is always prohibited and dangerous. Containers with hazardous materials in them must always be kept closed unless material is being added immediately.
Disposal of Hazardous Chemicals:
Each container should have an EPA "Hazardous Waste" label and should be placed in the labeled Hazardous Waste Accumulation Area (HWAA). Supplies for labeling and for HWAA are available through EHS. Incompatible wastes should be seperated from each other by seperate secondary containment trays, and containers should be no more than 80% full. Chemicals that are too old to be used or are in bad condition are automatically considered to be hazardous chemicals and should be treated as such.
Hazardous waste pickups are conducted twice a year: once towards the end of fall term and once towards the end of the school year. To request hazardous waste pickup, fill out this form and send it into the EHS Office.
Batteries should be kept until hazardous pick up which is conducted twice a year. They should be accounted for on the Chemical Disposal Request Form found in the link above.
Mercury and Mercury-containing Instruments:
Mercury is an extremely toxic substance, therefore its disposal is highly regulated. If one comes into contact with mercury, or any instruments that contain mercury, they should thoroughly clean the contaminated area and dispose of any contaminated clothing.
Mercury should be disposed of in a secure, ealable container with a "Hazardous Waste" labe affixed to it. It should be placed in an HWAA, and if a release of mercury ever occurs, the EHS Office should be contacted immediately.
Peroxide formation is a result of a chemical's reaction with oxygen in the air, which usually enters the chemical's container when it is opened for the first time. Organic peroxides are sensitive to heat, shock, and friction; some have the potential to become explosive. Therefore, it is important to be cautious when handling peroxide-forming chemicals.
All peroxide forming chemicals in the lab must be labeled with the date of chemical receipt and the opening date. After qualitative peroxide testing, the allowable time period for use of the chemical may be extended. Contact the EHS Office with any questions, as well as for information about the removal of waste peroxides.
If ever the contents of a chemical container cannot be identified, it should not be used in the laboratory. It should be labeled with a "Hazardous Waste" label along with as much information about it as possible. Then, it should be placed in the HWAA.