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The Environmental Health & Safety Office (EH&S) coordinates disposal of chemical waste. This document contains University procedures for the safe handling and packaging of chemical waste in compliance with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) regulations. This policy does not apply to the disposal of biohazardous (red bag) or radioactive waste.

Requirements for the Management of Hazardous Waste

Satellite Accumulation Areas are locations within the laboratory near the point of generation where waste is initially accumulated and is under the control of the generator. These could include collection containers within chemical fume hoods or elsewhere in the laboratory. Satellite Accumulation Areas must also comply with the NYCFD codes, i.e. one can not store more than 15 gallons of flammables in the laboratory. Consult with EH&S to check your laboratory flammability rating. EPA regulations require removal of a container within 72 hours after it becomes full. The following are standards for waste collected at Satellite Accumulation Areas:

  • Containers must be in good condition.
  • ·The waste placed in the container must be compatible with the container.
  • Containers must be clearly and legibly labeled Hazardous Waste, with the chemical name (no abbreviations or chemical formulas) and quantity (percentage) of the contents listed. The label must be firmly attached to the container.
  • Containers must be placed next to or near the process that generates the waste.
  • Containers must be kept closed at all times except when adding or removing waste. Do not leave a funnel in the hazardous waste container.
  • Containers must be segregated by hazard class (e.g. acids from bases and flammables).
  • All satellite accumulation areas must be under the control of the operator of the process generating waste.
  • Containers and area must be inspected at least weekly for leakage.
  • Complete a Columbia University Health Sciences Division Waste Disposal Form when the container is 90 % full and call EH&S for disposal.

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Labeling - Hazardous waste storage containers must be labeled with the words HAZARDOUS WASTE and the names and quantity (percent) of the principal chemical constituents. Containers must be labeled during the accumulation period. This applies to any chemical waste generated from any operation including laboratories, physical plant, biomedical communications, and administrative units.

Hazardous Waste container labels can be obtained by contacting EH&S at 305(5)-6780 or by clicking here. Use of these labels is preferred. If you choose not to use these labels, the container must bear the words Hazardous Waste, and the principal chemical products and quantity listed. Arrangements must be made with EH&S for pick-up of all hazardous waste. There is no charge for disposal of hazardous waste.

General Recommendations
  • Consistent with safe practice, compatible waste may be bulked in five gallon containers (consult EH&S).
  • Call or facsimile EH&S for disposal of waste.
  • Properly clean the lab when vacating due to relocation or moving to another institution.
  • If a spill should occur, determine if it is manageable by the laboratory personnel or if additional assistance is needed. Follow procedures outlined in the Laboratory Safety & Chemical Hygiene Plan. Contact EH&S if additional assistance is needed and/or to properly dispose of the waste.

A chemical waste is considered a "hazardous waste" when it presents a potential risk to humans and/or the environment, and:

  • Meets the EPA definition of either "listed" waste or a "characteristic" waste as per 40 CFR Chapter 1 Subpart A 261.3.
  • Is one of the most commonly used organic solvents (halogenated or non-halogenated), e.g. spent acetone, methanol, toluene, xylene, methylene chloride.
  • Exhibits any of the following characteristics: ignitability, corrosivity, reactivity or toxicity

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  • liquid with flash point less than 600 C/1400 F.
  • not a liquid and capable under normal conditions of causing fire through friction, absorption of moisture or spontaneous chemical changes
  • an ignitable compressed gas
  • an oxidizer
  • aqueous with a pH less than 2 or greater than 12.5
  • is a liquid and corrodes steel (at a rate greater than 0.25 inches per year at 55 degrees Celsius).
  • normally unstable
  • reacts violently with water
  • forms potentially explosive mixtures with water
  • generates toxic gases, vapors or fumes when mixed with water
  • cyanide or sulfide wastes that generate toxic gases, vapors or fumes at pH between 2 and 12.5
  • is capable of detonation or explosive decomposition if subjected to strong initiation or under standard temperature and pressure
  • is classified as an explosive by Department of Transportation
  • if an extract of the waste is found to contain certain metals, pesticides or selected organics above specified levels following a specific EPA test method.
  • if it is otherwise capable of causing environmental or health damage if improperly disposed, consult the Safety Data Sheet (SDS).