EH&S Safety News

Aerosol Spray Cans
by John Wallace

Many products come in aerosol spray cans including cleaners, lubricants, coolants, paint, and starting fluids. These products are often considered hazardous materials due to their flammability or toxicity.

Use aerosol spray cans for their intended purpose only and, ideally, until empty.  When aerosol spray cans are empty, have no pressure, and are devoid of container contents, they may be disposed of in the trash.

If an aerosol spray can is no longer needed, or cannot be used for its intended purpose but is not empty, it is a hazardous waste.  A Chemical Waste Collection Request form must be submitted so that it can be collected by EH&S. The form can be found at

When holding for disposal, an aerosol spray can must be placed in a container that is lined with a heavy duty inner plastic bag and has a tight fitting lid. The aerosol spray can should be placed in the container in such a way as to minimize the release of the remaining contents. For example, do not pack cans tightly on top of each other so that their valves are pressed. If you do pack cans in this manner, remove the valves.

The accumulation container must be labeled with a UW Hazardous Waste label that reads “HAZARDOUS WASTE AEROSOL SPRAY CANS.” Check the appropriate hazards(s), such as flammable and/or toxic.  If you have any questions or need hazardous waste labels, email  For information and a printable form, see

Proper disposal of aerosol spray cans is fairly simple and ensures safety for workers and the environment.

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