Laboratories which use chemicals generate chemical wastes as a result. Federal and State regulations have very strict rules in place regarding how chemical wastes must be classified, accumulated and disposed of. The penalties for non-compliance are severe, and the environmental consequences of improper chemical waste management are significant. Use the following guidance to help you make the right decisions regarding your chemical wastes. Do not hesitate to contact Environmental Health and Safety if you have any questions.
The final step in the management of laboratory hazardous chemical wastes is getting full containers removed from the laboratory. Environmental Health and Safety contracts with a hazardous waste vendor to provide this service.
The day your waste container becomes full, you should write the date on the container’s hazardous waste label, and submit an on-line pickup request form. Your request will automatically be processed, and your waste picked up from your lab. Please be sure to fill out all fields on the pickup request form.
Boston University Charles River Campus Pickup Request Form
Boston University Medical Campus and Boston Medical Center Pickup Request Form
Management Guide to Classification
There are two ways to determine whether a chemical waste is considered to be a ‘Hazardous Waste;’ 1) if it is specifically listed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) as a hazardous waste, or 2) if it meets any of the four hazardous characteristics: ignitable, corrosive, reactive and toxic. If a chemical waste is not on the EPA list of hazardous wastes and does not meet any of the hazardous waste characteristics, it is a non-hazardous waste. Be aware, however, that waste chemicals that aren’t technically ‘hazardous wastes’ are still usually forbidden from sink disposal.
Certain chemicals are identified by the EPA as having additional waste disposal requirements. These materials are known as “p-listed” chemicals. More information and a complete list of the chemicals are available here.
Signage – each area must have a sign designating it as the Satellite Accumulation Area. Satellite Accumulation Area signs can be downloaded from this website.
The response to a chemical spill in a laboratory is dependant upon the nature and size of the spill. The first issue that should be addressed is personal contamination. When a chemical spill results in a skin or eye exposure, the most important first step is to stop that exposure.
- Notify coworkers and anyone else in the area of the spill.
- Assess the size and nature of the spill; what was spilled, how much, what has been contaminated. Evacuate the area if necessary.
- Extinguish any open flames or sources of ignition.
- Obtain an MSDS for the spilled material prior to attempting any cleanup.
- Use the laboratory spill kit to contain the spill, unless doing so poses a risk to your health or safety. Attention should be paid to preventing the spill from escaping to sinks, floor drains, hallways, elevator shafts, etc.
- If it is a small spill, and you feel comfortable doing so, use the laboratory spill kit to clean up the spilled chemical. Be sure to wear the appropriate PPE, including gloves, eye protection and a lab coat.
- For large spills, or spills which might be outside your ability to clean up safely, make a phone call to summon help:
Charles River Campus: contact the Office of Environmental Health and Safety at 617-353-7233.
BUMC/BMC: contact the Control Center at 617-414-6666.
- Remember that most spilled chemicals and the contaminated spill equipment that results must be collected as hazardous chemical waste.
When research operations are moved from an existing laboratory space, it is important that all hazardous materials and laboratory equipment be relocated or disposed of properly. It is the responsibility of the Principle Investigator and host Department to manage the laboratory relocation process according to institutional laboratory decommissioning procedures.
Keep in mind that advanced planning and notice is always necessary in facilitating an efficient relocation and in keeping the costs of hazardous materials disposal as low as possible.