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Hazardous Waste at ISU
                        What should you do about it?
1)  Why This Pamphlet?
        This pamphlet provides basic information on management of hazardous chemical wastes at ISU.  If you believe that you may be generating hazardous chemical waste, please obtain a copy of the Hazardous Waste Management Policies and Procedures Manual which is available to all campus personnel upon request or is accessible on CWIS through the ISU mainframe computer.

2)  What are the Goals of the Program?
        The Hazardous Chemical Waste Management Program has three major functions:

  • Protection of health and safety
  • Waste minimization and disposal, and
  • Regulatory compliance
3) What is a Waste?
        Any material which is discarded, abandoned, or accumulated prior to recycling is considered a waste.  The ISU Recycling Program handles non hazardous waste materials such as paper, aluminum cans, non laboratory glass, and plastics.  For more information call x4455.  Some major categories of hazardous or potentially hazardous wastes are listed below.

4) What is a Hazardous Waste?
        Not all chemical waste is regulated as hazardous waste.  A waste is considered hazardous waste for regulatory purposes of any of the following apply:

  • Hazardous by EPA Listing.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has established lists of chemicals that must be treated and disposed of as hazardous when they become wastes.  Your department materials handler and the Technical Safety Office (TSO) maintain an inventory of those materials in your department which are affected by EPA listing.  All acutely hazardous wastes have EPA numbers beginning with the letter "P."  If you are using, or plan to use, a chemical which has an EPA identification number beginning with "P" or will be generating that chemical or contaminated products as a waste, contact your laboratory materials handler or the TSO.
  • Hazardous by Mixing a Listed Waste with Unlisted Waste.  Broken or discarded glassware, products, by-products, solutions, or mixtures contaminated with an EPA listed waste are considered hazardous waste.
  • Hazardous by Characteristic of Ignitability, Corrosivity, or Reactivity.  These characteristics have specific definitions which are given in the ISU Hazardous Waste Management Policies and Procedures Manual.
  • Wastes with New or Unique Characteristics.  These wastes may be created in research or teaching labs and must be evaluated to determine if they meet EPA definition of a hazardous waste.  Contact the TSO for assistance in characterization and disposal of such wastes.
The most effective method of dealing with hazardous waste is to minimize waste generation.  You should be sensitive to the purchase, use, and proper disposal of any chemicals included under the above headings.

5) What Kinds of Materials are Potential Hazardous Wastes?

  • Abandoned Unknowns.  This category is the most difficult.  The problems of abandoned unknowns can be avoided with standard laboratory protocol: label each container as to content, concentration, date, prepared or purchased, and your initials.
  • Questionable Purity.  Chemicals of questionable purity cannot be used and should be considered waste.
  • Expiration Date Surpassed.  Please pay special attention to the expiration dates of peroxidizable chemicals.  Use or disposal of peroxidizable chemicals before their expiration date is passed is very important.
  • Photographic Process Waste.  The spent chemicals, especially fixer, used in developing photographic and x-ray film contain silver, a RCRA waste.  These solutions are collected and recycled.
  • Chemicals from Completed or Discontinued Research, Experiments, and Analysis.  When these materials are no longer useful or cannot be recycled, they are considered waste and must be characterized prior to disposal.
  • Excess Stock with No Likelihood of Use.  Stock with no likelihood of use is waste.  Careful purchasing can reduce the volume of excess chemicals that have to be managed as hazardous waste.
  • Spent Cleaning and Wash Solvents.  Spent cleaning and wash solvents are almost always hazardous waste because the solvent or the materials which contaminate the solvent may be hazardous.  Spent solvents from automotive parts and washing machines are recycled.  Other generators of spent solvents should contact the TSO for management options.
  • Waste Paints.  Waste paints containing hazardous metals such as lead or hazardous solvents have to be treated as hazardous waste.  Most waste water based paints are not considered to be hazardous waste.
  • Used Motor Oil and Filters.  Regulations on used motor oil and filters are subject to change.  Currently oil is recycled.  Used oil filters may be disposed of as ordinary waste provided they are drained of free liquid and crushed.
  • Mercury.  Mercury is commonly found in instrumentation, thermostats, and thermometers.  Bulk quantities of mercury can usually be recycled but articles contaminated with mercury have to be disposed of as hazardous waste.  Disposal of a broken mercury thermometer generally costs far more than the purchase price of an electronic thermometer.
  • Electrical Transformers.  Older electrical transformers often contain PCB dielectrics.  Disposal of PCB dielectric fluids from equipment is very expensive.  Do not accept donated electrical equipment until it has been evaluated by TSO personnel.
  • Donated or "Free" Chemicals.  The "free" chemicals acquired by various departments on campus have cost thousands of dollars to dispose of as hazardous waste.  Accept no donated chemicals from any source without first consulting TSO.
6) What Kinds of Waste are Not "Hazardous?"
        Three kinds of wastes do not meet the technical definition of "hazardous waste," and are not covered by this pamphlet.
  • Non hazardous Solid Waste.  Examples include garbage, rubbish, paper or cardboard refuse, and non contaminated glass.  Non hazardous solid waste is handled by Maintenance and Operations.
  • Radioactive Waste.  An example is liquid scintillation vials containing radioactive material.  Radioactive waste is handled by the Radiation Safety section of the TSO, x2311.
  • Infectious Waste.  Examples include infectious laboratory cultures, pathological tissue specimens, needles, and items contaminated with human body fluids.  Infectious waste is handled cooperatively by Maintenance and Operations and the TSO.
7)  How is Hazardous Waste Managed at ISU?
        Proper management of hazardous chemical waste begins at the site of waste generation.  A brief overview of this process follows.
  • Laboratory procedures and other activities that generate hazardous waste should be reviewed with TSO personnel for possible waste reduction strategies.  At the discretion of the Chairman, these reviews may be done by individual instructors or at the departmental or college level by, for example, a materials manager.
  • Chemical wastes generated are first accumulated at the point of generation in a Satellite Accumulation Area (SAA).  Each campus location which generates hazardous waste on a routine basis should have an established SAA.  The SAA should consist of an area protected from natural degradation, such as wind, rain, and sunlight.  This location should be at the point of waste generation.  A sign, available from the TSO, should be posted to declare the location of the SAA.  One SAA per waste generation stream is optimal.  All containers inside the SAA should be placed in secondary containment such as a small tub.  Each SAA can store up to 55 gallons of hazardous waste or 1 quart of acutely hazardous waste (P-listed).  These sites are inspected weekly by TSO personnel for integrity and safety.
  • Hazardous chemical wastes are packed and labeled in compliance with Local, State, and Federal regulations.
  • Hazardous chemical wastes are then transported to a central storage facility known as a Temporary Accumulation Area (TAA) by TSO staff.
  • At the TAA hazardous chemical wastes are further packaged for shipment to an approved EPA treatment, storage, and disposal (TSD) facility.
8) What Steps Should Be Taken to Ensure Employee Health & Safety?
        Chemical waste handling procedures as well as packaging and labeling of containers for pick up by TSO personnel, should be carried out using precautions appropriate to the hazard level of the chemicals in the waste material.  Examples of precautions that may be appropriate are:
  • Conduct operations in a properly functioning chemical fume hood.
  • Use appropriate personal protective equipment such as eye, face, skin, and respiratory protection.
  • Use secondary containment to control the spread of any spill that may occur.
  • Correctly evaluate, pack, and label hazardous chemical waste.  This will help ensure the safety of other personnel who handle the hazardous chemical waste.
  • Make Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) available to all personnel working in your department for each chemical, including waste chemicals, with which they may be required to work.  By law, the manufacturer of a purchased hazardous substance must supply an MSDS with the purchase.  The TSO maintains a computer database of MSDSs.  Many MSDSs can also be found on CWIS.
9) How Can I Recycle & Minimize Hazardous Waste?
        If you have useable amounts of excess chemicals, notify your materials handler.  The beneficial use or exchange of chemicals with other departments is far preferable to the liabilities and expense of disposal as hazardous waste.

10) Regulatory Interpretations & Changes
        Local, state, and federal regulations are continuously updated and as such, are subject to change.  Please consult the TSO for possible changes in these regulations.

11) If You Don't Need It Don't Buy It!
        The few pennies you may save in buying bulk chemicals are quickly eaten up in increased handling, storage, and disposal costs.  TSO staff are available for consultation on waste minimization.

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Technical Safety Office

Office of Hazardous Waste Management
 Idaho State University, Campus Box 8106, 785 S. 8th St. PS Rm 113, Pocatello, ID 83209
Phone: (208) 282-2310
Fax: (208) 282-4649