EH&S Safety News

Waste Treatment by Generator
by Mark Volkert

If you work in a laboratory on campus, chances are you’re already familiar with our chemical waste management guidelines. Most hazardous chemicals are managed as hazardous waste which means that you have to set up waste routines, submit collection requests, and wait for somebody from EH&S to come pick them up. There are, however, some chemicals that you may be able to treat in your lab to make them non-hazardous and dispose of them down the sink. A short list is right at the top of our Hazardous Waste Minimization page, under Treatment by Generator.

Chemicals that may be treated by generator include some acids and bases, such as hydrochloric acid and sodium hydroxide, CIDEX OPA, a common hospital disinfectant, ethidium bromide, a popular nucleic acid stain, and formalin, formaldehyde and glutaraldehyde.

There are a number of benefits to treating your own hazardous waste. You don’t have to store waste in your lab while you are waiting for collection, you don’t need to submit a collection request every time you need to get rid of your waste, and you can dispose of your own waste safely after following the appropriate treatment protocols. The biggest benefit is that you are helping the university avoid the risk and cost of collecting and transporting hazardous waste for disposal.

If you think you may be able to treat your own waste, email EH&S at chmwaste@uw.edu or give us a call at 206-685-3759. We’ll send you our “welcome packet” and go over the treatment options and protocols with you. We do have a few, simple requirements for you to follow. These include a training record that is part of the treatment protocol we’ll supply you with, as well as a chemical treatment log which you’ll need to maintain. Even though you’ll be able to dispose of the treated chemicals yourself, EH&S still needs to keep a record of how much hazardous waste was treated and report it annually to the Washington State Department of Ecology.

If you’re interested in joining the dozens of labs and sites on campus that already treat their own waste, please contact us! You’ll be helping EH&S and the University do everything we can to minimize our impact on the environment.

If you have any questions about Treatment by Generator that haven’t been addressed, or if you need hazardous waste labels, please email chmwaste@uw.edu.

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