Safety and Risk Management
As a generator of small amounts of Hazardous Waste the University is required to comply with Federal Standards promulgated under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). These regulations cover the storage, handling and documentation of transfer of hazardous waste from the point of generation to final disposal.
Hazardous waste is a chemical, a solid, liquid, fuel or gas, which is either ignitable, corrosive, reactive or toxic and is no longer useful and is intended to be discarded. Within this definition, a second more limited category of hazardous waste is Acutely Hazardous waste which are extremely hazardous materials. These materials are specifically listed in the Federal Code of Regulations.
The most significant impact that individual departments can have on hazardous waste costs is to reduce the volume of waste required to be handled. Faculty and supervisors are encouraged to consider ways of reducing the volume of waste or preserving the reuse of the materials through the redesign of experiments and work processes. Recyclable materials should be kept separate from other waste. Efforts should be made to decontaminate, detoxify, neutralize, or otherwise render the waste nonhazardous. Different waste materials should be kept segregated whenever possible.
Hazardous waste materials must be handled by means of one of the following:
- Treatment by the originating laboratory to render the waste non hazardous.
- Recycled for energy recovery or other uses.
- Exchanged as a useful material for other industry or laboratories.
- Packaged for pick up and incineration by a licensed hazardous waste firm.
It is unlawful to discharge any chemical product into storm sewers, creeks or on the ground or to discharge hazardous chemicals such as strong corrosives, reactives, oils, varnishes, kerosene, gasoline insecticides etc. into the sanitary sewer. Also hazardous chemicals should not be placed in the ordinary trash for pick up by Facilities Management.
- EPA considers laboratories to be “satellite accumulation sites” this means that the waste containers must be near and under the control of the person responsible for the process generating the waste.
- Make sure every container labeled “waste” or which has the appearance of waste is in good condition, compatible with the contents, is labeled as to contents and capped. This means that you cannot leave funnels in bottles or leave them open.
- There is a 10 gallon per laboratory limit on flammables on the open bench including the fume hood. This includes waste flammables and non-waste flammables.
- There is a one quart limit of “Acutely Hazardous” waste.
The University is currently classified by the EPA as a "conditionally exempt small quantity" generator, which allows it to be excluded from some of the more cumbersome recordkeeping and training aspects of the law. To maintain this classification, the university must never generate more than 100 kg (220 lbs.) of hazardous waste in a month and never store more than 1000 kg (2200) lbs.
PROCEDURES FOR SPECIFIC WASTES
1. Individual Waste Streams A waste stream generated from a laboratory procedure or shop process should not be combined with other chemical wastes. The fewer the number of chemicals associated with a waste, the more economical is the disposal method for that waste. If this is not practical, the Safety & Risk Management Office should be consulted about which wastes can be combined.
2. Non-Halogenated Flammable Solvents – Non-halogenated flammable solvents are sent to an incinerator or recycler and must be free of heavy metals and reactive materials, e.g. sodium metal. Disposal of solvents to the sanitary sewer is limited to low toxicity solvents, miscible in water, diluted to non-flammable concentrations.
3. Halogenated Solvents Halogenated solvents are disposed of separately and must not be combined with flammable non-halogenated solvents. Examples of halogenated solvents include methylene chloride, chloroform, and carbon tetrachloride
4. Acids and Bases Acids with a pH of greater than five can be diluted and discharged to the sanitary sewer. Small volumes of bases can be discharged to the sanitary sewer, but followed by flushing with copious volumes of water. Acids and bases containing heavy metals must not be disposed to the sewer system.
5. Hydofluoric Acid – Presents a special hazard and is to be kept in Teflon containers or original containers.
6. Oils Oil is sent to a recycler. Only trace quantities of oils associated with cleaning and washing operations should be released to the sanitary sewer. Oil wastes from vacuum pumps, transformers, motors, etc., should be accumulated for pick up. Oily rags should be sent to a cleaning service.
7. Biocides Concentrated solutions are not to be released to the sanitary sewer. Disposal is to be limited to one gallon of "working strength" solution per laboratory per day. This applies primarily to germicides and occasional disposal of pesticides. Chemicals, which are persistent in the environment, should be released only in trace quantities.
8. Sodium Azide Solutions containing sodium azide, commonly used as a preservative in many in vitro diagnostic products and with automatic blood cell counters, can be discharged to the sanitary sewer if done so with generous amounts of water and where drain lines are lead and copper free. The accumulation of lead and/or copper azide in the drainpipes can produce a potentially explosive situation.
9. Toxic, Carcinogenic, Oxidizer, and Explosive Waste Are picked up for disposal.
10. Compressed Gas Cylinders Containing hazardous gas should be shipped back to the vendor.
11. Needles and Syringes Must not be put in the regular trash. They should be accumulated in plastic leak proof containers, labeled "Biohazard". Needles and syringes contaminated with infectious agents must be autoclaved or otherwise decontaminated.
12. Infectious and Radioactive Waste These guidelines do not apply to infectious or radioactive waste. Consult the Safety & Risk Management Office for these types of waste.
DRAIN DISPOSAL OF CHEMICALS*
Limited quantities (generally not more than a few hundred grams or milliliters) can be disposed of in the sanitary sewer, but never in a storm sewer system. The disposal should be performed by flushing with at least 100 fold excess water at the sink, so that the chemicals become highly diluted. Only those compounds that are water soluble to at least 3% and present a low toxicity hazard are suitable for drain disposal. The following list comprises compounds that are suitable for drain disposal. In general, compounds that are not listed are not suitable.
I. ORGANIC CHEMICALS
Alkanols with less than 5 carbon atoms
t Amyl alcohol
Alkanediols with less than 8 carbon atoms
Sugar and sugar alcohols
Alkoxyalkanols with less than 7 carbon atoms
Aliphatic Aldehydes with less than 5 carbon atoms
RCONH2 and RCONHR with less than 5 carbon atoms
RCONR2 and less than 11 carbon atoms
Aliphatic amines with less than 7 carbon atoms
Aliphatic diamines with less than 7 carbon atoms
Alkanoic acids with less than 6 carbon atomsa
Alkanedioic acids with less than 6 carbon atoms
Hydroxyalkanoic acids with less than 6 carbon atoms
Aminoalkanoic acids with less than 7 carbon atoms
Ammonium sodium, and potassium salts of the above acid classes with less than 21 carbon atoms
Chloroalkanedioic acids with less than 4 carbon atoms
Ester with less than 5 carbon atoms
Ketones with less than 6 carbon atoms
Sodium or potassium salts of most are acceptable
"Those with a disagreeable odor, such as dimethylamine, 1.4 butranediamine, butyric acids, and valaric acids, should be neutralized and the resulting salt solutions flushed down the drain diluted with at least 1000 volumes of water."
II. INORGANIC CHEMICALS
This list comprises water-soluble compounds of low toxic hazard cations and low toxic hazard anions. Compounds of any of these ions that are strongly acidic or basic should be neutralized before disposal down the drain.
*This material is retyped from "Prudent Practices for Disposal of Chemicals From Laboratories". National Academy Press
(l) "Blood and Body Fluids" means liquid blood, serum, plasma, other blood products, emulsified human tissue, spinal fluids, and pleural and peritoneal fluids. Dialysates are not blood or body fluids under this definition.
(2) "Microbiological Waste" means cultures and stocks of infectious agents, including but not limited to specimens from medical, pathological, pharmaceutical, research, and laboratories.
(3) "Pathological Waste" means human tissues, organs and body parts; and the carcasses and body parts of all animals that were known to have been exposed to pathogens that are potentially dangerous to humans during research, were used in the production of biological or in vivo testing of pharmaceuticals, or that died with a known or suspected disease transmissible to humans.
(4) "Regulated Medical Waste" means blood and body fluids in individual containers in volumes greater than 20 ml, microbiological waste, and pathological waste that have not been treated.
(5) "Sharps" means and includes needles, syringes with attached needles, capillary tubes, slides and cover slips, and scalpel blades.
Infectious waste is to be treated to change its biological character so as to reduce or eliminate its potential for causing disease. The most commonly used effective treatment method for the laboratory is steam sterilization (autoclaving). Steam sterilized liquid wastes may be discharged directly to the sanitary sewer. Procedures for disposal of solid wastes following steam sterilization are given under "Steam Sterilization Procedures." Laboratories with infectious wastes not specifically addressed by this document (such as waste with multiple hazards, e.g. carcinogens, radioactive infectious waste) should consult with the Safety & Risk Management Office for treatment and disposal methods.
Blood and Body Fluids
Since most laboratories have access to autoclaves blood and body fluids are to be steam sterilized prior to disposal. If this is not feasible the Safety & Risk Management Office should be consulted for alternate disposal methods. Both the CDC and EPA permits disposal of blood and body fluids down the sanitary sewer. When this is done care is to be taken to avoid splash and the drains are to be flushed with generous amounts of water. The Safety & Risk Management Office is to be contacted for approval of disposal methods other than autoclaving.Microbiological Waste
Cultures and stocks of infectious agents, and items contaminated with cultures are to be steam sterilized prior to disposal. Liquids may be poured down the sanitary sewer after steam sterilization.
Pathological Waste must be incinerated (Harris Regional Hospital).
Contaminated glass and sharps are to be steam sterilized prior to disposal. Needles and syringes are to be placed directly into closeable, leak proof, puncture resistant rigid plastic containers, and steam sterilized. To prevent needlestick injuries, needles are not to be recapped, purposely bent, broken, or otherwise manipulated by hand. After autoclaving, containers of sharps are to be disposed of in a cardboard box lined with a plastic bag, clearly marked with the "GLASS and SHARPS" label.
Storage Prior to Decontamination
1. Regulated medical waste shall be stored in a manner that prevents leakage of the contents of the package.
2. Regulated medical waste shall be stored in a manner that maintains the integrity of the packaging at all times.
3. The labeling and marking of the package shall be maintained at all times.
4. Regulated medical waste shall not be stored longer than 7 calendar days from the date of generation unless the regulated medical waste is refrigerated at an ambient temperature between 35 and 45 degrees Fahrenheit.
5. Only authorized personnel shall have access to areas used to store regulated medical waste.
6. All areas used to store regulated medical waste shall be kept clean. Vermin and insects shall be controlled.
7. All floor drains shall discharge directly to an approved sanitary sewage system. Ventilation shall be provided and shall discharge so as not to create nuisance odors.
Transportation of Regulated Medical Waste
1. Regulated medical waste shall be packaged in a minimum of one 160-lb. burst strength polyethylene or equivalent bag, and placed in a rigid fiberboard box or drum in a manner that prevents leakage of the contents.2. Regulated medical waste shall be stored in a manner that maintains the integrity of the packaging at all times.
3. Each package of regulated medical waste shall be labeled with a water resistant universal biohazard symbol.
4. Each package of regulated medical waste shall be marked on the outer surface with the following information.
- The generator's name, address, and telephone number
- The transporter's name, address, and telephone number
- Storage facility name, address, and telephone number, when applicable.
- Treatment facility name, address and telephone number
- Date of shipment
- "INFECTIOUS WASTE" OR "MEDICAL WASTE"
5. All loads containing regulated medical waste shall be covered during transportation.
6. The universal biohazard symbol shall be displayed on all transportation vehicles, in accordance with Department of Transportation Standards and 49 CFR 172 Subpart F.
7. Regulated medical waste shall be delivered to a permitted storage or treatment facility within seven calendar days of the date of generation.
8. Refrigeration at an ambient temperature between 35 and 45 degrees Fahrenheit shall be maintained for regulated medical waste that will not be delivered for treatment within seven calendar days.
9. A contingency plan shall be prepared and maintained in each vehicle used in the transporting of regulated medical waste. The operator of each vehicle shall be knowledgeable of the plan.
10. Vehicles used for the transportation of regulated medical waste shall be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected with a microbacteriocidal disinfectant before being used for any other purpose and in the event of leakage from packages.
11. While transporting regulated medical waste, vehicles are prohibited from transporting any material other than solid waste and supplies related to the handling of medical waste.STEAM STERILIZATION PROCEDURES
1. Infectious wastes are to be accumulated in durable leak proof containers lined with red or orange autoclave bags. The outer container must be of such a design so as not to be mistaken by Grounds as regular trash. Glass items must be autoclaved separately and then placed in the glass and sharps container. Plastic pipets are to be containerized to prevent bag puncture. The universal biological hazard symbol must be displayed on the bags and outer container. Since the outer container may also be contaminated, both the bag and the outer container should be autoclaved. Transfer of heat is more efficient when smaller waste loads are autoclaved and when stainless steel containers are used rather than polypropylene. Waste materials that are to be decontaminated at a site away from the laboratory are to be transported in closed containers.
2. The autoclave is to be operated at 121oC (250o) or higher for 45 minutes. Some autoclaves are equipped to operate at higher temperatures, which would allow for shorter exposure times.
3. For effective treatment, the critical factor is the degree of steam penetration. For steam to penetrate throughout the waste load, the air must be completely displaced from the treatment chamber. To facilitate steam penetration, bags are to be opened and bottle caps and stoppers loosened before placement in the steam
4. After autoclaving, the bags are to be sealed with tape. The bags are to be labeled as having been autoclaved, by placing heat sensitive tape over the biohazards symbol prior to autoclaving. The heat sensitive tape is to be of the type where the word "autoclaved" appears after treatment.
5. The autoclaved wastes are then to be placed in a cardboard box Biohazard bags placed in the cardboard containers and marked with the heat sensitive tape, as indicated above, will signal to Grounds that the waste can be removed from the trash can. Each department is responsible for providing these containers.
6. Waste bags with universal biohazard symbols are to be used only for infectious waste that will be autoclaved before disposal.
7. Housekeeping is not to remove or otherwise handle waste in biohazard bags.
8. Contaminated materials are not to be left in hallways or other public spaces prior to autoclave decontamination.References
1. Center for Disease Control. 1985 Guideline for hand washing and hospital environmental control. Publication No. PB85 023404.
2. Center for Disease Control. 1987 Recommendations for prevention of HIV transmission in Health Care settings. MWWR36: supplement.
3. Rutala, W.A., M.M. Steigel, and F.A. Sarubbi. 1982 Decontamination of laboratory microbiological waste by steam sterilization. Appl. and Envir. Micro 43: 1311 1316/
4. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 1986 EPA Guide for infectious waste management. Publication No. PB86 199130.q
DISPOSAL OF HYPODERMIC SYRINGES, NEEDLES AND GLASSTo prevent injuries to Housekeeping personnel, sharps must not be discarded in trash receptacles intended for ordinary trash. Sharps include such items as broken glass, pipettes, razor blades, serrated metal and any other item capable of protruding through a trash bag and puncturing skin. The appropriate method of disposal depends on the item and nature of materials with which it is, or may be contaminated.
Broken Glass and Other Sharps
Non-Contaminated and or sterilized glassware and sharps are to be placed in a plastic bag within a cardboard box. The box will be picked up by Housekeeping.
Hypodermic Syringes and Needles
Metal or rigid plastic containers must be used for accumulation and disposal of hypodermic
syringes and needles. The containers must be labeled with a biohazard symbol or color-coded.
Glass bottles are not recommended because they may break during compaction and present
a hazard to sanitation workers.
NOTE: Syringes and needles contaminated with a biological hazard must be steam sterilized (autoclaved) before disposal.
Broken glass, needles and other sharps contaminated with trace carcinogens or radioactive material are to be placed in special the containers provided for those waste streams. Contact the Safety Officer for disposal of these items.