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Chemical Waste Program FAQs

C o n t e n t s

What do I do if I spill a hazardous material?

How do I tell if my chemical waste is a regulated Hazardous Waste?

How do I determine the hazard class of my Chemical Waste?

Where do I get containers for my hazardous chemical waste?

How do I safely store my chemicals in my laboratory?

What do I do with empty containers?

What can I do with my unused (surplus) chemicals?

Where can I get unused (surplus) chemicals?

Can I treat my chemical wastes to make them safer or prior to
sewer disposal?


How do I get my regulated hazardous chemical waste picked up?

Where does my chemical waste go once EH&S picks it up?

Is there a charge for having my chemical waste picked up?


What do I do about mixed chemical hazardous wastes and
radioactive wastes?


Can I mix different chemical wastes in the same container?

What do I do if I spill a hazardous material?

  • If the spill is an immediate threat to your (or anyone's) health:
    ---Call 9-911 (286 at the Medical Center)

  • If the spill is greater than 30 ml, or you do not know the hazards of the material, or the spill may impact the environment by entering a sink, storm drain or the soil, or you cannot clean up within 15 minutes:
    ---Call 725-9999 (Day and Night)

  • If you know the hazards of the material, less than 30 ml have spilled, and you can clean it up with available equipment:
    ---Clean it up yourself and manage the material as hazardous waste.

How do I tell if my chemical waste is a regulated Hazardous Waste?

All chemical wastes from laboratories are presumed to be a regulated Hazardous Waste. However, through testing or other review Stanford has determined that specific chemical wastes are not regulated Hazardous Wastes. These materials are listed on the "Non-Hazardous Waste List" found at:
http://ehs.stanford.edu/enviro/waste/index.html

If your waste is found on the list, you may dispose it as directed. If your waste is not on the list, but you believe it may be non-hazardous, please contact EH&S at 725-7529, or cbarney@stanford.edu for a waste determination.

If your waste is simply an acid or basic waste containing no other hazardous materials or toxic metals, and the pH is between 5.5 and 11.0, you may discharge it to the sewer.

How do I determine the hazard class of my Chemical Waste?

Chemical wastes display the same hazards as the chemicals from which they are generated. Occasionally dilution in the process may result in minimizing or eliminating the hazard, but a waste determination is required before you can call your waste non-hazardous. If you are uncertain of the hazard, it is most likely a "Toxic" waste due to the very strict California Toxicity criteria.

Where do I get containers for my hazardous chemical waste?

If you do not have the original product container for the chemical used to generate the waste, you can obtain containers from Stores or you can order them from lab safety suppliers. The container must be compatible with the waste you are putting in it. Glass is generally preferred except for Hydrofluoric Acid. High density Polyethylene (HDPE) may be used for wastes except for concentrated chlorinated solvent wastes.

How do I safely store my chemicals in my laboratory?

Hazardous waste must be stored in compatible primary and secondary containers.
Requirements for primary containers:

Lids must be on at all times (except when adding waste) and have screw caps or tight lids (no parafilm or foil);
Containers must not leak or be rusty (no beakers, coffee cans or flasks); and,
Sealed plastic bags are acceptable for solid materials.

Requirements for secondary containers:

Required for all wastes except immobile solids
(e.g., gas cylinders);
For solids: boxes and containers with lids are acceptable;
For liquids: tubs, barrels and trays are acceptable;
For storage of single primary containers, capacity must be 110% of primary container; and,
For storage of multiple primary containers, capacity must be 150% of largest container or 110% of volume of all containers combined, whichever is greater.

While hazardous waste is being accumulated, the container must have an accurate and complete Hazardous Waste tag (available from EH&S). Improper or inaccurate tagging could present a serious risk to personnel handling these wastes. Detailed instructions for completing Hazardous Waste Tags can be found in the Hazardous Chemical Waste Management Reference Guide for Laboratories (HCWG, page 12).

What do I do with empty containers?

Consult the Empty Container Decision Tree in the Hazardous Chemical Waste Management Reference Guide for Laboratories (page 11) to determine if your empty container can be safely disposed of in the regular trash or if it must be managed as hazardous waste.

What can I do with my unused (surplus) chemicals?

Unused or unopened reagent chemicals may be candidates for EH&S' Surplus Chemical Redistribution Program. EH&S maintains an inventory of surplus chemicals that are available to the Stanford Research Community, free of charge. The program is an integral part of the University's waste minimization program. Researchers are given a direct means of improving the environment by reducing the volume of chemical materials disposed of as hazardous waste.

Where can I get unused (surplus) chemicals?

Unused or unopened reagent chemicals can be obtained through
EH&S' Surplus Chemical Redistribution Program
. EH&S maintains an inventory of surplus chemicals that are available to the Stanford Research Community, free of charge. The program is an integral part of the University's waste minimization program. Researchers are given a direct means of improving the environment by reducing the volume of chemical materials disposed of as hazardous waste.

Can I treat my chemical wastes to make them safer or prior to sewer disposal?

Yes. Please contact EH&S at 725-7529 for instructions, training and recordkeeping requirements.

How do I get my regulated hazardous chemical waste picked up?

When you have chemical waste requiring pick up, you must first complete a Hazardous Waste Label and affix one to each container.

Next, complete a Chemical Waste Pickup Form (available online). Once the required information is completed, the web based form is submitted to the Hazardous Waste group at EH&S. You will receive electronic confirmation of your request. The Hazardous Waste Program is committed to completing pickup of your waste within 10 working days.

Where does my chemical waste go once EH&S picks it up?

EH&S brings your chemical waste back to its central facility on campus for safe storage and handling until it can be shipped off site. Depending on the nature and type of your chemical waste, its final disposition can vary. Some waste streams can be recycled, some can be used as fuel (a form of recycling), some are incinerated off-site, and a few must be placed in hazardous waste landfills. EH&S adheres to strict governmental regulations with respect to its offsite shipments of hazardous chemical waste.

Is there a charge for having my chemical waste picked up?

EH&S does not charge departments and units for waste pick up in academic and research areas. EH&S does require an account number and approver prior to picking up waste from non-research areas (i.e., Athletics, Housing, etc.). Costs will vary depending on quantities and types of chemical wastes involved.

What do I do about mixed chemical hazardous wastes and radioactive wastes?

Due to the costs and liabilities involved in disposing these wastes, Stanford has established a policy that researchers may not generate these wastes without approval from the Radiation Safety Committee. Refer to your Health Physicist for the review process. If you use short-lived isotopes such as 32P, you may hold these mixed wastes in your lab until ten ½-lives have passed. At that point, survey the waste to make sure it has decayed to background, and manage it as a chemical hazardous waste.

Can I mix different chemical wastes in the same container?

Yes if the wastes are compatible. There are a variety of ways to determine whether or not two or more waste streams are compatible. In general if two chemicals or solutions have similar hazard properties than they are probably compatible. Broad generalizations about properties can be deceiving though, two compounds can be classified as 'Corrosive' yet be on opposite ends of the pH scale and highly incompatible. The first best step in determining whether or not you can mix two solutions is a Literature search. MSDS's provide a good source of compatibility information, any Chemical Handbook should have some of this data as well. Finally it is usually a good idea to mix the chemicals or solutions on a micro scale before pouring them together into a larger container. If the material shows any sign of reaction when a couple of mls are mixed, especially if heat is developed, choose not to mix them and store in separate containers.
One other word of caution, some compounds are significantly more expensive to dispose of than others. In particular any type of Mercury contamination increases the cost of disposal several fold. Contact the Chemical Waste Program at 650-723-5069 if you have more questions.

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