• Facility Support Services
  • Occupational Safety & Risk Management
  • Research Safety & Services
  • The EPA’s rules and regulations provide a generic template for management of hazardous wastes but were originally developed for an industrial setting. EH&S has developed the following guidance for wastes specifically generated in a research laboratory setting. If you are ever unsure of how to manage a particular waste stream being generated in your lab, contact HWM personnel.

    Liquid Waste
    Managing Liquid Hazardous Wastes
    • Containers must be closed at all times except when physically adding waste
    • Containers must be labelled with all chemical constituents (and their approximate % by volume), including water
    • Leave adequate headspace in liquid containers (~1” is sufficient for a 4L container; leave more or less depending on the size of your waste container)
    Flammable Liquids and Solvent Wastes
    • For small quantities (<5 gallons), accumulate in glass bottles
    • For larger quantities (>5 gallons), accumulate in metal cans
    Corrosive Liquid Wastes
    • Segregate acidic wastes from alkaline wastes within SAA (separate via secondary containment)
    • Never accumulate corrosive liquids in a metal container
    • Always accumulate hydrofluoric acid (“HF”) in a plastic container;
    Solid Waste Debris
    • Do not dispose of liquid-containing vials in the same container as solid waste
    • Identify all chemical hazards on hazardous waste labels
    • Do not include regular trash or Non Regulated Lab Waste in solid waste debris
    • 5-gallon plastic buckets and 30-gallon fiberboard drums(with plastic liner) for solid waste accumulation are available from EH&S by calling 392-8400
    Clean Lab Ware
    In an effort to correctly manage all types of solid waste generated in laboratories while minimizing the amount of Hazardous Waste created, the University of Florida has adopted the following policy regarding the disposal of clean (i.e. non-contaminated) lab wares.

    These laboratory items may be disposed of as “Clean Lab Ware,” provided that the item is clean and is not contaminated with hazardous chemicals, radiological materials, or biohazardous materials.
    Clean Lab WareClean Lab WareClean Lab Ware

    Electrophoresis Wastes
    Agarose/Polyacrylamide Gels

    Protocols which require the use of electrophoresis gels require several specific waste management procedures to be in place. The following are general guidelines for electrophoresis-related waste.

    Ethidium Bromide is a commonly-used chemical in the electrophoresis process. Ethidium Bromide (“EtBr”) is a suspected mutagen; for this reason, the University of Florida requires lab workers to handle both concentrated stock solutions containing Ethidium Bromide, as well as agarose gels stained with Ethidium Bromide as Hazardous Waste.

    • There are many other products currently on the market which mimic the performance of Ethidium Bromide, but which are notconsidered hazardous waste once they are spent. Dilute solutions of these products, along with the associated de-stained gels, may be drain disposed (if liquid waste) or disposed of as Clean Lab Ware  (if solid waste). The following products have been researched and determined to be less-hazardous than Ethidium Bromide, and wastes may be managed using these less-stringent methods: SYBR Green, SYBR Safe, GEL RED Unused portions of these products, however, because of their higher concentrations, must be disposed of through EH&S as hazardous waste.
    • Several other dyes common in the electrophoresis process include xylene cyanol, methylene blue, bromophenol blue, and cresol red. Unused portions of these dyes should be turned over to EH&S for disposal as hazardous waste, while dilute aqueous solutions containing the dyes may be disposed of down sink drains as long as no other hazardous materials are also present in the waste. These dyes are commonly combined with flammable solvents such as xylene, methanol, or alcohols; if waste solutions contain any concentration of these solvents, labs should manage the waste as hazardous waste.

    Environmental Health and Safety’s Hazardous Waste Management can provide containers for electrophoresis waste collection at no charge to UF labs. 5-gallon plastic buckets are commonly used to contain agarose gel waste, while bottles or carboys will be provided for collection of liquid wastes. To request a container delivery, call 392-8400.

    Lab Waste Graphic

    All stained gels, dyes, and concentrated stock solutions should be managed as Hazardous Waste
    Solid waste containers should be labeled with all contaminants and be free of liquids
    Manage silver stain waste separately
    Photographic Wastes
    Wet chemistry photography may seem like a thing of the past, but there are still darkrooms on campus. If you are still using one we would encourage you to plumb in a silver recovery unit. This will allow your photo processor to be plumbed directly to the drain and reduce your hazardous waste generation. See below for the correct disposal of common photographic wastes:

    Drain Disposal
    • Spent developer
    • Stop bath( if the pH is greater than 5)
    • Fixer that goes through a silver recovery unit
    • To EH&S for recycling
    Hazardous Waste
    • Fixer that does not go through a silver recovery unit
    • Toners
    • Reducers/Intensifiers
    Gas Cylinders and Aerosol Cans
    Gas Cylinders

    Lab Waste GraphicPrior to ordering pressurized gas cylinders for their research projects, Principal Investigators and lab members are directed to contact the manufacturer or cylinder supplier and make arrangements to have the cylinders picked up following use.

    In the event that a lab discovers an old or abandoned cylinder in their spaces, they should contact EH&S’s Chemical and Radioactive Waste Disposal group immediately to aid with disposal.

    Aerosol Cans

    Lab Waste GraphicAerosol cans which are empty of all contents are allowed to be disposed of as “regular” trash by placing in any waste receptacle. If there are contents still in the can, however, the aerosol product should be placed in an appropriate outer container (such as a fiberboard drum) in the lab’s Hazardous Waste Satellite Accumulation Area and disposed of through EH&S.

    Potentially Unstable Wastes

    Many commonly-used reagents in research laboratories have the tendency over time to chemically decompose, resulting in highly flammable or sometimes even shock-sensitive compounds. Over time, these unstable wastes can decompose to the point where they present significant personnel dangers. For this reason, the University of Florida has the following policies regarding the storage of these chemicals:

    Lab Waste GraphicDinitro- and trinitro- compounds: should be disposed of through EH&S as hazardous waste once the compound is noted to be undergoing physical change. If the product is past its printed expiration date or is exhibiting signs of drying or crystallization. It should be disposed of through EH&S. Contact EH&S if you discover very old containers or containers with metallic lids.
    Lab Waste GraphicPeroxide Forming Chemicals: many common organic chemicals and some common inorganic chemicals can form potentially explosive peroxides during storage following exposure to atmospheric oxygen and UV radiation. To prevent peroxide formation and to promote disposal of potentially unstable chemicals, items listed in the table below should be stored in tightly closed containers, away from light and disposed of after their useful lifespan. To track the lifespan, these chemicals should be dated upon receipt and dated upon first opening.
    Table of Peroxide Forming Chemicals
    Chemicals that form explosive levels of peroxides without concentration-Dispose of within 3 months of opening
    Butadiene a Divinylacetylene Tetrafluoroethylene a Sodium Amide
    Chloroprene a Isopropyl Ether Vinylidine chloride Potassium metal
    Potassium amide
    Chemicals that form explosive levels of peroxides on concentration-Dispose of within 6 months of opening
    Acetal Decahydronaphthalene 2-Hexanol 2-Phenylethanol
    Acetaldehyde Diacetylene Methylacetylene 2-Propanol
    Benzyl Alcohol Dicyclopentadiene 3-methyl-1-butanol Tetrahydrofuran
    2-Butanol Diethyl ether Methylcyclopentane Tetrahydronaphthalene
    Chlorofluoroethylene Diethylene glycol dimethyl ether (diglyme) Methyl isobutyl ketone Vinyl Ethers
    Cumene Dioxanes 4-Methyl-2-pentanol Other secondary alcohols
    Cyclohexanol Ethylene glycol dimethyl ether (glyme) 2-Pentanol
    2-Cyclohexen-1-ol Furan 4-Penten-1-ol
    Cyclohexene 4-Heptanol 1-Phenylethanol
    Chemicals that may autopolymerize due to peroxide formation-Dispose of within 12 months/immediately *
    Acrylic acid Chlortrifluoroethylene Vinyl acetate Vinyladiene chloride
    Acrylonitrile Methyl methacrylate Vinylacetylene
    Butadiene Styrene Vinyl chloride
    Chloroprene Tetrafluoroethylene Vinylpyridine

    * - inhibited chemicals can be stored for 12 months, uninhibited should be disposed of immediately.
    a - when stored as a liquid monomer
    Information adapted from “Review of Safety Guidelines for Peroxidizable Organic Chemicals” by Richard J. Kelley

    Used Oil
    Laboratories which accumulate used oil from vacuum pumps or other pieces of lab equipment must not mix this oil with other chemical wastes; this segregation allows the university to recycle the oil, thereby minimizing waste generation. Below is a list of how to manage used oil:
    Lab Waste Graphic

    Pump Oil, Heating Baths, etc.
    Must be drained from equipment.
    Labeled “USED OIL”
    Labels available from EH&S

    Oil contained within equipment designated for disposal (x-ray machines, pumps, transformers, etc.) must be sampled and tested prior to disposal of the equipment. EH&S personnel will conduct tests for Poly Chlorinated Biphenyls (“PCBs,” a toxin often present in older pieces of electrical machinery). If tests for PCBs are positive, EH&S will assist in the disposal of these.

    HPLC Wastes
    Lab Waste GraphicHigh Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) equipment often creates hazardous liquid waste. The process frequently results in wastes which contain flammable solvents such as acetonitrile or methanol, and these are often mixed with acidic components such as formic or trifluoroacetic acid.

    Lab Waste GraphicThe hazardous effluent from the HPLC equipment must be collected in closed containers. Labs may purchase purpose-built collection caps/containers for this; an easy solution, however, is to simply drill holes through the cap of any suitable container and route the effluent lines through those ports.

    Liquid Containing Vial Waste
    Labs which generate small vials, conical tubes, centrifuge tubes, etc. which contain liquid hazardous waste do not need to individually pour out these small amounts of liquid. They may be managed following these guidelines:

    Container Label must describe ALL VIAL CONTENTS
    ONLY VIALS in waste vial container, NO DEBRIS

    Lab Waste GraphicCollect tightly closed vials (20mL or smaller) in a LABELED OUTER CONTAINERLab Waste Graphic

    Pharmaceutical Waste

    Pharmaceutical Waste must be disposed of as Chemical Waste through EH&S

    Many chemical and/or pharmaceutical compounds used in research or in the treatment of disease at the University of Florida are regulated by the EPA as listed or characteristic hazardous wastes when disposed.  Many other pharmaceutical compounds are not regulated as hazardous waste but may pose a threat to human health or the environment and have the potential to be misused. All unusable prescription or non-prescription pharmaceuticals and pharmaceutical compounds used in treatment or research should be disposed of through EH&S as Hazardous Waste.

    A limited number of prescription pharmaceuticals and pharmaceutical compounds used in research and treatment are regulated by the Drug Enforcement Administration under the Controlled Substances Act. EH&S does not collect controlled substances for disposal.

    Hazardous Waste Pharmaceuticals

    Many chemical and/or pharmaceutical compounds used in research or in the treatment of disease at the University of Florida are regulated by the EPA as Listed or Characteristic Hazardous Wastes when disposed. The following lists are examples of some common Hazardous Waste Pharmaceuticals.

    P-Listed Hazardous Waste Pharmaceuticals

    Unused dilutions, formulations (including container rinsates) or wastes generated through spillage of the original product are considered hazardous waste. Packaging and/or empty containers associated with these items must either be collected as hazardous waste or triple-rinsed before being considered empty.

    P012 Arsenic Trioxide   P081 Nitroglycerin
    P042 Epinephrine   P188 Physostigmine salicylate
    P046 Phentermine   P204 Physostygmine
    P075 Nicotine and Salts    


    U-Listed Hazardous Waste Pharmaceuticals

    Unused dilutions or formulations or wastes generated through spillage of the original product are considered hazardous waste.  Personal Protective Equipment PPE contaminated during use or preparation of Chemotherapy agents should be collected as hazardous waste.

    U010 Mytomycin C U058 Cyclophosphamide
    U035 Chlorambucil U059 Daunomycin
    U052 Cresol U055 Cumene

    Characteristic Hazardous Waste Pharmaceuticals

    Pharmaceutical chemicals or formulations may also contain components which are regulated as characteristic waste. The presence of these components is often present only as a component (often a minor constituent) and not clearly identified in labeling. The EPA regulates Toxicity Characteristic chemicals at the parts per million (ppm) level. Knowledge and understanding of the entirety of product make-up is critical for safety and proper waste determination.

    Thimerosol, Merthiolate Toxic (Mercury)   Silvadene Toxic (Silver)  
    Barium Sulfate Toxic (Barium)   Insulin Toxic (m-Cresol)  
    Mercurochrome Toxic (Mercury)   Styptic Pens Toxic (Silver)  
      Selenium Sulfide Toxic (Selenium)  

    Prescription and Non-Prescription Pharmaceuticals

    Pharmaceutical Waste must be disposed of as Chemical Waste through EH&S

    Prescription and “over the counter,” non-prescription pharmaceutical waste generated while in use at the Student Infirmary or Veterinary Hospital should be disposed of as Hazardous Waste through EH&S. Prescription Pharmaceutical wastes also include solutions and formulations not in the original packaging (IV bags, etc).  Pharmaceutical waste does NOT include Sharps or other material considered to be Medical or Bio-Hazard Waste (IV sets, syringes, needles, etc).  Unopened pharmaceuticals should be returned for credit through a pharmaceutical reverse distributor.  UF is not responsible for the disposal of unused personal or pet prescriptions. Personal prescriptions may be disposed of through the Alachua County Disposal of Unwanted Medicines program.

    Disposal of Controlled substances

    The Drug Enforcement Agency’s (DEA) Office of Diversion Control regulates the disposal of DEA controlled substances.

    Proper use and disposal of DEA controlled substances is the responsibility of the individual holding the DEA registration used to obtain them.  Maintaining accurate and current records of usage and maintaining a current DEA registration are critical for compliance with DEA regulations.  Principle Investigators who “orphan” controlled substances by abandoning or losing control of them are in violation of federal law.  Do not create orphan drugs. If drugs are found, contact Chemical and Radioactive Waste Disposal for assistance at (352) 392-8400.

    Reverse Distribution

    All reverse distributors have their own slightly different methods and requirements. The process typically involves most if not all of the following:

    • Contact a Reverse Distribution Vendor to register.
    • Complete the vendor’s application for approval to ship material – either in paper form and sent by mail / fax or in electronic form (both require current DEA registration).
    • Additional Forms – Completing DEA D-222 form if necessary (for Schedule I & II controlled substances)
    • Payment – payment or payment information is required with application.
    • Shipping – once authorized, items are packaged and shipped by you via an approved shipper (Fed-Ex or UPS usually)
    • Always request documentation of return/disposal/destruction

    Reverse Distributor Vendor List

    The following is a list of DEA registered reverse distributors licensed to provide return/disposal services in the State of Florida:
    PharmaLink (800) 257-3527
    Rx Reverse Distributors, Inc. (866) 388-7973
    Triumverate, Inc. (888) 834-9697

    Other Resources

    Unknown Waste
    Proper labeling of all chemical containers by lab members will prevent the creation of dangerous, expensive-to-dispose chemical wastes of unknown origin. Before leaving a lab, workers must ensure that all chemical wastes that they have been responsible for creating are positively identified and labelled.

    If lab workers come across old or abandoned chemicals of unknown origin or make-up, they are directed to label the container with a Hazardous Waste label, and write “UNKNOWN-100%” in the constituent section. Dispose of the unknown waste through EH&S as soon as possible to prevent an inadvertent personnel exposure to the unknown chemical. Every effort should be made to identify the chemical or its context. This will help EH&S staff in determining the best method for management.

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