Hazardous chemicals require careful handling and appropriate disposal. When dealing with such waste items in the laboratory, it’s crucial to take safety measures to protect your own health and the wider environment. Toxic chemicals should be treated and disposed of appropriately.

In this article, we’ll be exploring the correct way to dispose of hazardous chemicals, the various categories of toxic waste, and the essence of risk assessment.

The proper disposal of toxic chemicals

The UK law forbids the improper disposal of chemicals regardless of the magnitude of the risks they pose to the environment and public health. Therefore, it’s important to follow the right procedures to avoid prosecution.

Here are safe ways to dispose of hazardous chemicals:

Washing down a drain

Some chemicals simply need washing and draining with plenty of water. Such chemicals include:

  • Alumina and fine silica
  • Hypochlorite solutions
  • Harmless soluble inorganic salts
  • Diluted and concentrated alkalis and acids

Incineration

The following materials qualify to be disposed of via incineration:

  • Soluble organic waste
  • Mineral oil and paraffin
  • All organic solvents

Refuse collection by a local authority

Most local authorities in the UK collect refuse from their residents. However, you shouldn’t mix chemicals with other types of waste. Instead, get a special bin for the chemicals. Every other item such as dirty samples, sharp objects, and broken glassware contaminated with the chemicals should be disposed of as chemical waste.

EPA regulates the disposal of toxic chemical waste through the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. It’s unlawful to dispose of chemical waste in a regular rubbish bin or sewer system. If you’ve got hazardous chemical waste that you want to be removed from your house or laboratory, follow the following steps:

Store the chemical wastes in the right containers.  Where compatibility isn’t an issue, choose plastic bottles over the glass. Don’t segregate the chemical waste alphabetically, but based on compatibility.

  • Label the chemical waste containers appropriately.  Include the full name of the chemical, quantity, place of origin (department, room number), date of waste generation, PI’s name and contact information, and bottle number assigned on the corresponding waste sheet. Besides, tag the bottle with “Hazardous Chemical Waste.”
  • Submit the completed hazardous chemical waste information form to the Environment Health and Safety (EHS) office. The form must include the information in the chemical waste container.

Please note that open or leaking containers won’t be removed. So, ensure that you put the waste in a functional container. Besides, most local governments prohibit the disposal of the toxic chemical into the solid waste disposal system.

Risk assessment

The law requires chemical users to control usage by assessing the risks to implement and maintain effective control measures. The users must specify these measures in writing and implement them fully to prevent accidents in their places of work.

Staying safe in a place where toxic chemicals are used is important. The generated waste must be disposed of properly to prevent adverse impacts on the environment and human health. For more information about how to dispose of toxic chemical waste, consult your area municipality.