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Author: Subject: Professional Laboratories, How is Waste Dealt With?
HydroCarbon
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[*] posted on 21-9-2010 at 18:35
Professional Laboratories, How is Waste Dealt With?


These questions are mainly aimed for people who work in a professional lab or have experience in a professional setting that generates a significant amount of chemical waste.

Generally how is waste, namely organic liquids, dealt with? I know that usually companies will pile up waste then call a waste management company to come pick it up periodically. However, in the mean time what is the storage location of the waste? Is the waste from expired chemicals usually pooled in a larger container? or is it kept in the original bottle to be picked up by the waste company? How are vapors dealt with when working with waste, and what sort of protective gear do workers wear? What sorts of organic wastes are segregated?

Any answers are appreciated.
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[*] posted on 21-9-2010 at 18:42


In my experience solvent waste is poured into large empty solvent drums which are separated into halogenated, non-halogenated and aqueous solvent waste. When washing glassware with acetone or other organic solvents the solvent is allowed to collect in an empty 1 gallon glass solvent container with a resealable HDPE funnel when it is full it is emptied into the appropriate waste drum. As for safety gear, gloves, lab coat, goggles, cotton shirt, cotton pants and closed toed shoes are standard.

[Edited on 22-9-2010 by crazyboy]




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BromicAcid
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[*] posted on 21-9-2010 at 18:53


I worked as a chemist in a hazardous waste disposal buisness for about a year so my knowledge is pretty extensive on the subject although from the POV of the generator there are a number of differences from corporation to corporation. From a high level here are some of the important points:

Quote:
However, in the mean time what is the storage location of the waste?


Hazardous waste is stored segregated away from the lab and the virgin chemicals. Generally I've seen very little segregation aside from keeping oxidizers to the side away from the flammables. Some companies though will have separate rooms for different hazard classes however. It's not so much dependant on the quantity of the waste but the quality of the facility how much segregation is done.

Quote:
Is the waste from expired chemicals usually pooled in a larger container? or is it kept in the original bottle to be picked up by the waste company?


Generally small containers of virgin chemicals (expired or otherwise) are left as is and are disposed of via 'lab pack'. The bulk of wastes from universities and the like however is in the form of 4 L bottles (empty solvent bottles) that are full of God knows what from student experiments. Sometimes they are labeled as to what went in, othertimes the labels are illegible. Sometimes there are no labels. Those in the know will separate out chlorinated solvents to reduce the price of disposal as there is a surcharge for high chlorine content in flammables. The practice of mixing these and other chemicals together in a larger container is called 'bulking' in the biz and generators usually will not do this due to the potential for reaction. Also, some things could 'spoil' the drum. Best example is mercury, someone dumps a mercury compound in a 55 gallon drum of flammable solvents and suddenly it becomes 55 gallons of solvents containing mercury and the disposal cost can go up 10 fold. There are a number of other listed chemicals that can wreak similar havoc with disposal. I've got a great story called 'the million dollar drum' that gives a good example of what not to do (that I learned the hard way) but it's a little too lengthy to relate here.

Quote:
How are vapors dealt with when working with waste, and what sort of protective gear do workers wear?


If scrubbing is availibe in the facility where the work is done then that is utilized. Workers also wear full face masks or forced air. Our full face masks used an acid / organic cartrige. It blocked out most every smell but that dosn't mean they were 100% effictive, just that they helped. At a minimum for doing any bulking we would wear a Tyvek or an acid suit or BR suit with neoprene gloves. The latter are very expensive. During bulking drums could eject gallons of hot corrosive liquid so it was necessary. During standard segregation operations just nitrile gloves were worn to handle the units.

Quote:
What sorts of organic wastes are segregated?


Like I said before, the degree of segregation depends on who is doing it. Most often the person in charge of the hazardous waste program has little or no knowledge of chemistry beyond what they NEED to do their job. If wastes are segregated they are done by hazard class. Here are the main classes for segregation of organics:

Flammable (3) These are flammable liquids, mixes of flammable liquids, etc. They may or may not actually be flammable (by flash point) but contain enough flammable materials were it is a possibility.

Flammable / Corrosive (3)(8) Actually this is two classes. Flammable and corrosive acids (meets criteria of flammable above and also gives a strongly acidic pH <2.5) and Flammable and corrosive bases (pH >12). I believe those are the numbers at least.

Reactive (D003) Things that are reactive usually are strongly exothermic with water, air, etc. Spontaneously flammable... usually it was a judgement call although some are listed with the DOT shipping regulations as reactive. Mostly this covers inorganic compounds but there are plenty of organics too.

Chlorinated Sometimes falls under flammable as well. Chlorinates are shipped as poison if somewhat pure and non-flammable but if flammable usually flammability trumps poison for DOT. Separated out because of surcharge on disposal end for high halogenated wastes.

This is a HUGE subject but this is some very high level overview.

[Edited on 9/22/2010 by BromicAcid]




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HydroCarbon
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[*] posted on 21-9-2010 at 19:05


Thanks for the info, do you have any recommendations for further reading.
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DDTea
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[*] posted on 22-9-2010 at 07:16


I've done quite a bit with hazardous waste over the past few years...

Basically, according to some US law or other, the waste generator is responsible for the waste legally and financially until it is destroyed. So if one of their drums of waste ends up on the side of the road (and certain companies used to do just this sort of thing), someone is held accountable.

I, personally, don't work with a lot of organics. Most of what I use actually gets poured down the drain and passed through some serious water filtration/cleaning/etc.

At my current location, we have two types of sites (in fact, it's the same deal at universities and other large locations): satellite waste accumulation areas and 30 day storage sites. Satellite waste sites have a volume limit--e.g., no more than 50 gallons--before they must be moved to the 30 Day storage site. As the name implies, storage is limited to 30 Days before it is sent to some hazardous waste disposal contractor.

Also, all waste must be labeled. Unknown substances have to be identified before they can be disposed of, and that ends up costing more money. If you don't know the exact concentrations, try to give the best estimate you can. Also, write the chemical names out on the label (no "MeOH"--it's Methanol).

In general, and BromicAcid touched on this: if you have a bin of non-hazardous waste and you throw a bag of hazardous waste into it, the entire bin becomes hazardous waste.




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The WiZard is In
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[*] posted on 22-9-2010 at 07:26


Quote: Originally posted by HydroCarbon  
Thanks for the info, do you have any recommendations for further reading.



This from Google.com/books

1. Hazardous laboratory chemicals disposal guide
Margaret-Ann Armour - 2003 - 557 pages - Preview
The text also provides data on hazardous reactions of chemicals,
assisting laboratory managers in developing a plan of action for
emergencies such as the spill of any of the chemicals listed.
books.google.com - More editions - Add to My Library▼

2. Waste disposal in academic institutions - Page 103
James Aks Kaufman - 1990 - 192 pages - Preview
CHAPTER 7 Characterization of Unknown Laboratory Chemicals for
Disposal Stephen R. Larson INTRODUCTION What is an unknown
laboratory chemical and how are these materials generated?
Every place in an institution where chemicals are used ...
books.google.com - More editions - Add to My Library▼

3. Prudent practices in the laboratory: handling and disposal of ...
National Research Council (U.S.). Committee on Prudent
Practices for Handling, Storage, and Disposal of Chemicals in
Laboratories - 1995 - 427 pages - Full view
Guide for laboratory workers on the handling and disposal of
chemicals at the laboratory level.

Full view - can be DL'd



[Edited on 22-9-2010 by The WiZard is In]
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S.C. Wack
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[*] posted on 22-9-2010 at 12:47


The CRC Handbook of Laboratory Safety 5th ed. and NFPA codes may also be of interest, see gigapedia or here.

None of our mostly organic waste is corrosive to steel, so we drum it up and store it forever. Our really toxic/reactive shit, we do a little detoxifying first. Apparently with our sprinkler system we can store pretty much anything in any amount anywhere. Obviously all those questions are dependent on the chemicals involved. We do what OSHA says and no more, when we are aware of any rules or care. Certain organics are flushed with full approval by mgmt.




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[*] posted on 22-9-2010 at 13:05


Quote: Originally posted by HydroCarbon  
Thanks for the info, do you have any recommendations for further reading.



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