Environmental Health & Safety

Handling of Specific Chemicals

  • Acetonitrile solutions are considered flammable as they generally contain alcohol. Acetonitrile solutions often contain materials corrosive to metal drums.
  • Acetonitrile wastes should be accumulated in glass or plastic containers.
  • Treat liquids as chemical waste as described in the Management Practices section of this flip chart.
  • Solid bulk waste contaminated with carcinogens, mutagens, or teratogens such as benzidine, ethidium bromide, ophenylenediamine, diaminobenzidine or rhodamine should be placed into polypropalene 5-gallon pails.
  • Treat combustible liquids as flammable liquids outlined below.
  • All containers/liners that held acutely hazardous material “P listed” must be triple rinsed with an appropriate solvent to ensure that the container has been properly decontaminated before disposal. The rinse solvent is to be disposed of as chemical waste.
  • After the containers/liners have been triple rinsed, deface the original label with an indelible marker. Drums can be marked as empty by writing “EMPTY” with an indelible marker in a color that will be visible over the original label. Replace bungs, caps or other sealing devices and tighten.
  • All containers/liners that held hazardous material other than acutely hazardous material must be drained so that no more material can be drained from the container in the means in which the container was designed.
  • Under no circumstances may a container labeled with the international radioactive symbol or the words “Hazardous Waste” be disposed of in the regular trash.
  • Do not discard bungs or make holes in drums. Incomplete or damaged drums are difficult to transport safely, cannot be recycled, and require costly disposal procedures.
  • Empty metal 5-gallon pails that contained “P” listed material cannot be reused. They must be triple-rinsed and disposed of in the trash.
  • Empty metal 55-gallon drums that contained “P” listed material cannot be reused; contact Environmental Health and Safety for disposal.
  • When equipment has been contaminated, the generator should attempt to decontaminate equipment prior to requesting disposal as chemical waste. If a contractor performs decontamination, equipment will be certified as clean before disposal. Decontaminated electronic equipment will be disposed of during electronic equipment removal.
  • Equipment may intrinsically contain toxic chemicals (e.g., electrical transformers and capacitor units may contain PCB’s) requiring special handling procedures, testing and disposal as chemical waste if the toxic chemicals cannot be removed. Contact the Department of Environmental Health and Safety for assistance prior to moving units or handling such equipment.
  • Certain acids and bases which are strong oxidizers, such as perchloric, or those that contain toxic metals, such as chromic acids, or those that form highly toxic salts, such as hydrofluoric acid or those with pH less than or equal to 2 or greater than or equal to 12.5, should not be neutralized and cannot be poured down the drain.
  • Do not place containers of potentially explosive chemicals in boxes containing other waste chemicals. Pack separately with appropriate noncombustible cushioning materials. Do not place metal sensitive compounds such as picric acid in metal containers or wrap them in aluminum foil.
  • Some chemicals such as dinitrophenyl hydrazine, picric acid, and other trinitro compounds may become shock sensitive and dangerous to handle if allowed to dry out. Do not allow inventories of these chemicals to dry out while in use and storage. If a container of this type of material has dried out, do not attempt to open container. Contact Environmental Health and Safety.
  • Certain chemicals, such as ethers and alkali metals, can form potentially explosive peroxides. Clearly indicate the date of purchase or receipt and the date opened on all containers of chemicals that tend to form dangerous peroxides during storage. This information is needed to meet safety and transportation requirements.
  • Opened containers of peroxide forming chemicals should be tested for peroxide formation or be discarded as chemical wastes within 3 to 6 months after opening.
  • Unopened containers of peroxide forming chemicals should not be held for more than 12 months after receipt. Contact EH&S for disposal.
  • If evidence of peroxide formation, such as crystal formation, is noted in a waste chemical container, do not attempt to move it. Contact EH&S.
  • Collect flammable liquids in appropriate flammable waste disposal containers.
  • Collect halogenated and non-halogenated solvents in separate waste containers.
  • Place only chemically compatible waste solvents in the container. Do not place solid wastes, aqueous chemical wastes, concentrated halogenated solvents, phenol, heavy metal compounds, strong acids or bases, oxidizers, or radioactive wastes in flammable solvent collection containers.
  • If different solvents are added to a container use a waste description list that can accompany the container. Identify solvent components by chemical name (not formula). Write in pencil; solvent splash and vapors quickly render inks illegible.
  • Do not fill the containers. Overfilled containers cannot be safely transported.
  • Do not remove flame arrestor screens from solvent can spouts or prop spring hinged lids open. These are important safety devices.
  • Store containers away from sources of heat and ignition.
  • White phosphorus and fine metal catalysts (e.g. palladium or platinum on carbon, platinum oxide and Raney nickel) should be stored under water.
  • Close and tighten and replace safety caps on cylinders.
  • If the container is empty and not pressurized, write “EMPTY” on the container label. Identify the gas that was previously held in the container.
  • Contact the supplier to obtain guidelines for the shipment of cylinders to be returned.
  • Contact EH&S for removal of orphaned cylinders.
  • Always use a hand truck to move large, compressed gas cylinders.
  • Collect waste halogenated solvents in appropriate waste disposal containers.
  • Collect halogenated and non-halogenated solvent in separate waste containers.
  • Place only chemically compatible waste solvents in the container. Do not place solids, aqueous chemical wastes, phenol, heavy metal compounds, strong acids or bases, oxidizers, or radioactive wastes in halogenated solvent collection containers.
  • If different solvents are added to a container, use a waste description list that accompany the container. Identify solvent components by chemical name (not formula).
  • Do not fill containers above the indicated fill line. Overfilled containers cannot be safely transported or emptied.
  • Waste halogenated solvents may contain flammable solvents and should be handled as if they are flammable. Use a safety funnel to transfer liquids.
  • Do not remove flame arrestor screens from solvent can spouts or prop spring hinged lids open.
  • Store containers away from sources of ignition.
  • Liquid solvents will be handled as flammable liquids as outlined above.
  • Never mix oxidizers with easily oxidized organic or inorganic materials. Make sure that the waste container is compatible with oxidizers.
  • Cans of oil/solvent-based paints still contain liquids and must be disposed of as chemical waste if they do not meet the requirements of “empty” as described above under the Contaminated Container Section. Waste oil based paint may be accumulated at Motor Pool and managed as a flammable liquid as described above.
  • All photographic wastes and unused photographic chemicals should be handled according to the characteristics exhibited by the material. Be aware that some of these wastes may meet the definition of hazardous waste and must be managed as such.
  • A silver recovery system must be used to bring the waste below the allowable levels before the discharge. Silver recovery units must be monitored and maintained to insure compliance with sewer regulations. When the silver recovery filter becomes full, contact Maintenance (2460) for management and reclamation of the silver.
  • At the end of each semester, laboratories should inventory chemicals and make arrangements for removal of any chemicals no longer of use.
  • Containers of unopened, pure laboratory chemicals which are in good condition and no longer needed by the department may be redistributed to another department for use, sent back to the supplier, or labeled and sent to the central accumulations storage area for disposal.
  • Surplus chemicals should be properly sealed, labeled, and packaged for transfer.
  • Wastes containing chemicals that require a special temperature range must be stored at a safe temperature.
  • Advise EH&S concerning the storage locations and quantities of temperature sensitive waste on-hand.
  • Make sure all containers are tightly closed. Seal caps on with a parafilm or filament tape. Certain water reactive chemicals, such as sodium and potassium, should be stored in mineral oil.
  • Used pump oil, automotive oils and oil filters, or used oil from a known origin will be handled as non-hazardous, non-DOT-regulated waste. Contact EH&S for disposal of this material.
  • Containers of waste oil with unknown origin will be tested for the presence of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB’s) and/or TCLP by an outside NYS certified Laboratory. Oils that indicate the presence of PCB’s will be sent out as hazardous waste PCB Oil.
  • Any items contaminated with a hazardous chemical are assumed to have the same hazardous properties as the chemical, unless the items can be decontaminated or testing demonstrates that the items are not hazardous. This includes items used to clean up hazardous chemical spills. The type of decontamination or testing that has to be performed depends on the nature of the hazardous material. Contact EH&S for information on decontamination procedures and testing requirements. If the items cannot be decontaminated and testing is not performed, the contaminated items must be treated as chemical waste.
  • Discarded chemical products, off-specification chemicals, container residue and spill residues from acutely hazardous wastes are assumed to have the same chemical properties as the chemical and cannot be decontaminated. These wastes must be disposed of as acutely hazardous wastes (40 CFR part 261.22 Acute Hazardous Wastes – P listed wastes).
  • Wastes of unknown or incorrectly described composition present difficult handling and disposal problems, and may require costly analysis before removal and disposal can be accomplished. “Orphan” reaction mixtures and unidentified chemicals left by departed laboratory workers are the most frequent source of unknowns. All stored reaction mixtures should be labeled with the name (not chemical formula) and chemical concentration of the chemical compound, date they were formed, and the name of the person who mixed it. Laboratories are encouraged to institute a checkout procedure that requires departing workers to identify all reaction mixtures and unlabeled chemicals that they have not discarded.
  • In the case of a vacated department worker, the responsibility for the proper disposal of abandoned chemicals, identifiable and unidentifiable, lies with the worker’s department.
  • Alfred University’s waste disposal contractor will perform limited field screening of unknown chemicals contained in small lab size containers, less than one (1) gallon liquid or one (1) pound solid, to determine proper disposal classification.
  • Unknown chemicals present within containers greater than lab-pack size will require analytical testing for the following parameters:
    • pH
    • flashpoint
    • reactivity
    • corrosivity
    • priority pollutant metals
    • volatile organic compounds
    • semi-volatile organic compounds
    • pesticides
    • herbicides
    • polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB’s)
  • Labs may generate waste streams that contain a combination of chemical, biological, or radioactive substances. Multi-hazardous wastes are defined as those that contain more than one hazard in the waste. Any waste stream that presents more than one type of hazard requires special management consideration because the selected treatment technology appropriate for one type of waste may not be appropriate for the other types. Multi-hazardous wastes must be evaluated on an individual basis and the constituent that poses the greatest hazard should be given priority. Refrain from generating "Multi-Hazardous" waste due to difficulties in disposal.
  • "Mixed waste" is the regulatory term for multi-hazardous waste that contains chemical and radioactive hazards. Mixed waste is defined by EPA as "wastes that contain a chemically hazardous waste component and a radioactive component consisting of source, special nuclear, or by-product materials regulated under the Atomic Energy Act of 1946." Refrain from generating "Mixed Waste" due to the difficulties in disposal.
  • "Asbestos Waste" is the regulatory term for any discarded material that contains greater than 1% asbestos by weight. Examples of asbestos contaminated waste items encountered at Alfred University are:
    • Thermal insulation such as pipefittings, boiler and duct insulation.
    • Insulated gloves, laboratory apparatus, laboratory bench tops, and interior fume hood panels.
    • Dust collected at motorpool operations from brake linings.
    • Vinyl asbestos floor tiles and associated mastic (glue).
  • All personnel involved in handling asbestos wastes must be certified as a NYSDOL Asbestos Handler or Supervisor.
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