School, University Lab Chemical Waste Management 101


School, University Lab Chemical Waste Management 101

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Educational laboratory chemical disposal can be a complicated process. Wastes are produced through many avenues whether as a by-product or excess expired product; educational laboratories face a challenge to manage and properly dispose of chemical wastes.

Regulatory Compliance Liability

An all-to common and especially difficult situation occurs when a long-tenured instructor departs or retires from the University or High School laboratory, leaving behind an inventory of chemicals. Chemical mixes containing multiple compounds, old bottles without labels and improper storage are a few of many possible potential violations that institutions may find themselves liable for.

Without proper laboratory compliance management, generators risk the safety of their employees and the regulatory compliance integrity of their workspace.tradebe-schools-universities-lab-waste-1

Lab Pack Services

To address the complicated processes needed to package, ship and dispose of hazardous laboratory waste, environmental service providers offer “lab pack” services. Lab pack services comprise of packing chemicals per local, state, and federal regulation in containers approved for transportation.  Containers are marked and transported by a licensed hauler to a disposal facility for processing.

The process of laboratory chemical disposal begins before the waste is even generated. Best practices which define how wastes are collected, mixed, and stored can make critical cost and management differences on the end disposal solution for each compound.  The most cost-effective chemical waste solutions are typically simple solutions such as not combining several streams of waste into one container. This can create a regulatory compliance issue where non-regulated materials may unnecessarily become regulated hazardous wastes.

Lab Chemical Storage

A proper storage location for Educational, University laboratory chemicals is essential to maintaining a safe workspace. Compounds need to be stored according to their respective hazard class and separated from other incompatible compounds which may cause chemical reactions. Proper safety equipment such as the correct set of fire extinguishing agents, personal protective equipment (PPE), and spill clean-up kits should be readily available. Storage shelves and cabinets should be made of materials that will not degrade over time while storing their respective chemicals. Acids, for example, are stored in a synthetic or coated cabinet as a best practice

tradebe-schools-universities-lab-waste-101Lab Chemical Inspections and Recordkeeping

Compounds which may degrade over time should be regularly inspected. Alkali metals such as potassium, magnesium, sodium, and lithium may show reaction with moisture in the air if their containers are not properly sealed. Peroxide formers such as picric acid or perchloric acid should be inspected for signs of crystallization. Caps of corrosives compounds should be inspected for signs of reaction.

Detailed inventory management is a key best practice and commonly required by permit or local regulation. When a compound is designated as a waste it should be recorded in a database or on a spreadsheet along with the date it became a waste, the container volume, and the mass of the contents. The container’s integrity should be inspected prior to storage. Compromised containers must be addressed either with augmentation of the container or transfer of the contents to a new container. Wastes are identified by their hazard class and either set in a UN-rated DOT approved drum or placed within a secondary containment for storage prior to shipment.

Lab Pack Service Providers

It is essential for laboratories to consult hazardous materials management providers prior to packing chemical wastes in drums. Although a chemical may meet criteria for storage with other like materials when on a shelf, it may need to be packed alone to ensure it does not react while in transit. Certain reactive chemicals may require special provisions for transit by regulation, such as submersion in water or climate controlled apparatus.

Tradebe provides Turnkey Laboratory Chemical Management and Disposal services for its higher education customer base.

Tradebe chemists may come to a customer site, inventory, package, remove and transport all waste chemicals for disposal, offering a complete solution which professionally removes risk and liability.  For more information on what a Lab Pack is, read more...

 Higher Education institutions who may choose to prepare chemical packages for disposal themselves may alternatively utilize a Self-pack service provided by Tradebe by sending their inventoried list of wastes to our Technical Service Chemist team for review.  Tradebe Chemists advise our clients on how these wastes should be packed and identify those waste materials which require special packing procedures.

Choosing a Lab Chemical Management Service Providertradebe-schools-universities-lab-waste-101-3

The first step in the process begins with choosing the right environmental service provider. It is critical to identify a capable experienced service provider for managing these complicated waste materials. Be sure to request and validate information on all applicable licensing and permits for your service provider prior to engagement. Ask for references that your candidate service provider may provide from customer types like your own. Ensure that the personnel your service provider will place on your site are fully trained in the management of chemical hazard recognition as well as to regulatory requirements under OSHA, RCRA, and the DOT.

It is a best practice to have a vendor representative come to your facility and review your location, its access points, and inventory prior to execution of the work. This will ensure that the job goes smoothly and there are no unexpected surprises associated with the inventory and the associated volumes. A pre-event visit also supports enhanced Health & Safety practices.

Higher education generators who partner with Tradebe choose a reliable, experienced hazardous materials management provider. Liability risks are reduced, peace of mind is established, and the safety of personnel is assured.

We are here to assist you with all of your Lab Waste Management needs - contact me now!
Nolan Kappelman, Technical Services Specialist, Tradebe USA







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The information contained in this Blog is not intended to be all-inclusive nor does it reflect direct federal, state, local or other governing body guidance. At Tradebe, we are committed to the Safety of our team, our clients, partners and community. Tradebe’s Blog is offered by our Health and Safety and Environmental Compliance experts only as a general guide relating to the topics covered and referenced.  For further information, please see the list of Resources.

As always, like all general information offered on the web, Tradebe’s Blog does not replace the professional advice of Health and Safety and/or Environmental Compliance Consultants to review your facility’s specific requirements.