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Author: Subject: Safe disposal of wastes
KalleMP
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[*] posted on 20-10-2018 at 05:36
Safe disposal of wastes


I believe that some of the stigma of amateur chemistry might be reduced by some kind oversight. The best would be to have minimal regulation and control but as the amount of regulation for the general public will keep increasing a point may be reached when it would make sense to trade some regulation for some freedom instead of hanging up one's funnel for good.

I wonder if in some corner of the world some progressive official would look into the restrictions and have a heart and consider the potential benefits of having a private population that is able to remain literate and creative in the chemical arts.

Again I bring back the parallel with Radio amateurs who have been licensed and registered for the longest time. They have had to be proactive to hold the rights they have to their spectrum allocations and they have had to follow rules of good conduct and play fair with finite resources.

I would look at having a category of customer at the local toxic waste disposal facility who does not have to pay to dispose of something if it is very small scale (that is to say for personal experimentation only) which could be something like (dunno) maximum 2kg in 5 categories of waste per month. (organics, heavy metals, salts, other metals, rinses). In exchange they have to take a one day course in lab safety and one day in lab waste management and one day in fire and first aid. This would then prevent harassment and allow purchase of small quantities of those chemicals that are not illegal from proper suppliers as well as lab gear.

While small and micro scale chemistry is not a massive danger to the community it is also true that the community does not have to fully embrace things that it does not trust. In the same way that a radio amateur would not be automatically guilty of television interference (back in the day) because they were trained and licensed they were also able to suggest line filters or whatever to a neighbour when the input filters in their receiving equipment were below par.

So having a system in place that will require the amateur chemist not to flush chemicals down the drain or dispose of toxic salts in the trash in exchange for the freedom from unwarranted harassment sounds like a reasonable deal to me.

The waste disposal site could then do random drug or explosive precursor tests on the wastes to contemplate follow-up investigation.

Already in Finland the municipal sewers are occasionally tested (every few years) for drug metabolites to gain a broad picture of the drug problem in the various regions. This type of testing for other chemicals could be implemented already anywhere. For this reason denaturing and neutralising and cementing out as much as possible would be my preferred method to minimise waste. Dry salts that are not toxic would result in the least disposal overhead.

I would like to try my hand at precious metal refining but access to the nitrogen compounds is a problem without legitimate use. Having amateur chemistry as a legitimate use would be super cool.


Basically I contend that any activity that does not harm others should be unregulated, while those activities that cause outside disturbance (flying projectiles, electromagnetic interference and groundwater pollution) should have some oversight. I also believe this oversight should be as light as possible to minimise bureaucratic cost and barrier to entry. In exchange for the freedoms I believe that the public should be required to demonstrate a basic level of competence and good will. Radio amateur clubs train members and hold exams, gun clubs train members and have tests (as well as police) so chemistry societies could train members (with the fire department) to gain proficiency and then receive a licence to dispose and purchase chemicals on a small scale. They could have club days when they synthesize household products (caustic soda from sea water) and essential medicines (WHO list of 100) and extract healing and marketable botanicals.

The need for this is irritating and a curb to progress and innovation but it may be better that the alternative where ignorant officials with the aid of sensationalist media demonise amateur chemistry at each juncture and only the negative aspects are heard of.

Kalle
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All constitutions that do not encourage a sustainable society are crimes against humanity. Kalle Pihlajasaari, 2017

[Edited on 2018-10-20 by KalleMP]
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CobaltChloride
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[*] posted on 20-10-2018 at 06:39


I generally agree with your view, but I have to say that amateur chemistry is very different from those hobbies because practicing it safely requires a LOT more knowledge and the scope of the hobby is much, much wider. A few courses wouldn't be enough.

It is true that the legality of our hobby isn't 100% clear in many parts of the world, and regulating it in a similar fashion to other potentially dangerous hobbies could be beneficial, but it would be very hard to objectively assess whether someone can safely practice this activity at home. One option would be to require some sort of formal education in chemistry in order to be allowed to take part in this hobby, but many, if not most of the members here started doing chemistry at home while they were still in school before they attained any sort of qualifications in chemistry.

I'd also like to add that, where I live, there are chemistry clubs in high schools. Here, students get together to perform interesting reactions and syntheses. Many teachers even help their pupils with obtaining reagents through the school. I think this is also the case in many other regions of the world.

Your idea sounds good on paper, but it would be very hard to implement.

[Edited on 20-10-2018 by CobaltChloride]
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fusso
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[*] posted on 20-10-2018 at 07:07


Quote: Originally posted by CobaltChloride  
I'd also like to add that, where I live, there are chemistry clubs in high schools. Here, students get together to perform interesting reactions and syntheses. Many teachers even help their pupils with obtaining reagents through the school. I think this is also the case in many other regions of the world.
I think your country is relatively not chemophobic right?




[rquote&author=Nyaruko]It's not crime if no one finds out.[/rquote]
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CobaltChloride
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[*] posted on 20-10-2018 at 07:42


Compared to countries like the UK, it isn't chemophobic. I can get, or easily make most reagents I want (two notable exceptions are concentrated H2O2 and KMnO4) and my friends don't think my hobby is excessively dangerous. Also, my landlord is fully aware of what I do and he doesn't have any problems with it. I also happen to know that not even the agents of the Romanian equivalent of DEA (DIICOT) have anything against it.

Despite the fact that the current situation here is good, I suspect that it will get more and more like western European countries in the future. For example, before March of this year, it was legal to buy concentrated H2O2, nitric acid, chlorates, and perchlorates, but we adopted EU regulations and banned them. Also, before 2010, KMnO4 was sold in pharmacies, but that is no more.

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Ubya
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[*] posted on 20-10-2018 at 09:17


you mentioned the problem with liquid or solid waste like solutions or salts, but the waste we make is much more, you have to consider liquid waste (washings, mother liquors etc), solid waste (filtrates, residues, but also gloves, contaminated tissues etc), gaseous waste (the "do it outside" can be annoying to the neightborhood, and to ambientalists).
a regular lab has many more restrictions than us, if we are going to be regulated we would need to follow strict rules, but as you can see on this forum, we tend to be cheap and janky, not everyone can afford a real fumehood with appropriate certificates for example. our hobby can be dangerous to us and to the enviroment, so probably we could practice amateur chemistry only if we had the equivalent of a research lab, something 99% of us can't afford because of money, space or other reasons





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KalleMP
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[*] posted on 20-10-2018 at 13:48


The reason I mention waste and the Amateur radio community is that they have resolved a couple of the significant problems that plague the hobby chemistry.

The fear of danger to others which is minimised by proper waste management and skill set and adherence to laws and code of conduct. The chemical clubs could arrange insurance and fire alarms for members if they want to practice at home. Clubs could offer spaces to work in with security cameras (feed to fire station and police) and fume hoods and stuff that would not be safe of fragrant enough for home settings.

The problem I see is that many noxious wastes can be generated even with OTC chemicals and their disposal will be poorly handled unless there are simple ways of doing it and this will give the public a reason to complain even if no laws are being broken. However if the chemists were known to dispose well and could be taken to task about bad smells and unsecured sheds with chemicals I think they would have a bit of sympathy.

Ultimately I believe it will boil down to how much the political lobby groups pay the media to paint the chemists in a poor light. A noteworthy portion of the HAM radio mission is to keep the people in a state of emergency readiness when communications fail and for this they are given further leeway. In the same theoretical way those who bear arms are there to protect families and neighbourhoods from wild animals, robbers and tyrants so also have a justifiable reason to exist.

On reading a few other threads it seems that the popular way in England to gain some more privileges is to be involved in pyro research or metals recovery. I contend that synthesising the WHO 100 top medicines and any other household chemical supply should also be legitimate uses for chemical skills. Imagine if local chemical clubs have camp outs where they prepare for emergency readiness after a simulated power failure (tornado, tsunami) and make signal rockerts, lye, disinfectants and haemoglobin test solutions (CuSO4), nitro heart pills and acetylsalicylicacid with home grown gear. Imagine if they do this and generate no toxic waste, like the new green chemistry I read about.

If every amateur was trained in making all the legal stuff that could help in times of disaster and this was shown to help even once the public at large could offer their support and with enough support the political and media bias could be balanced to have some formal way that this would continue. Preppers and Mars enthusiasts would also love to join in. As the war on drugs wanes the option to self medicate with alcohol, hemp and other naturals might become more commonplace and it would make a lot of sense if the skills of extraction were practised instead of repressed.

Basically there is no reason for society to offer a bone to the chemists among us unless they see a benefit in it. Society does not even like golf courses because they are often over fertilised and pay minimal rates but are almost exclusively for the use of the rich. Same for other niche hobbies like shooting, take your range indoors or out into the country. The bottom line is that it should be in the cultural budget of a country and sponsored by the universities, NASA, ESA, etc. but this will not happen without some kind of organisation/movement to lobby on their behalf.

Kalle
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Any time someone puts a lock on something you own against your wishes, and doesn't give you the key, they're not doing it for your benefit. Cory Doctorow, 2009
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[*] posted on 20-10-2018 at 14:10


Quote: Originally posted by Ubya  
you mentioned the problem with liquid or solid waste like solutions or salts, but the waste we make is much more, you have to consider liquid waste (washings, mother liquors etc), solid waste (filtrates, residues, but also gloves, contaminated tissues etc), gaseous waste (the "do it outside" can be annoying to the neightborhood, and to ambientalists).
a regular lab has many more restrictions than us, if we are going to be regulated we would need to follow strict rules, but as you can see on this forum, we tend to be cheap and janky, not everyone can afford a real fumehood with appropriate certificates for example. our hobby can be dangerous to us and to the enviroment, so probably we could practice amateur chemistry only if we had the equivalent of a research lab, something 99% of us can't afford because of money, space or other reasons


This is exactly the reason why my hobby is more or less clandestine. Making it perfectly legal would be financially prohibitive.
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Ubya
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[*] posted on 20-10-2018 at 16:20



Quote:

Imagine if local chemical clubs have camp outs where they prepare for emergency readiness after a simulated power failure (tornado, tsunami) and make signal rockerts, lye, disinfectants and haemoglobin test solutions (CuSO4), nitro heart pills and acetylsalicylicacid with home grown gear.


this is a weak reason to legally justify our hobby, disasters happen but it's not an impure and not food grade aspirin, or a faulty rocket that helps in those situations, if we were to live a disaster where even an aspirin was rare, i bet you would not have the lab, the materials or the time to make a difference.

it's not realistic to hope the government to support hobby wood workers just because in case of emergency they would be asked to build camps and structures.

there's little to no reason to justify our hobby, i'm not trying to be pessimist, but there are important differences, i like chemistry as a hobby because i like to build stuff, and making compounds at the molecular level makes me happy, the same could say a guy who has photography as a hobby, he just likes the act and the art of photographing something, the important difference is that if he screws up not much would happen, but if i screw up something, depending on the experiment i can put me and others in danger. this is why if we were to be "legalized", we would be constrained to specific labs organized by some organization or your government, and the freedom we have would die. it would become like the chemistry sets they sell as toys to kids, when i was a kid one of my kits had cobalt chloride and copper sulphate, another had potassium hexacyanoferrate(ii), now i see in the newer kits baking soda, tartaric acid and food coloring, i don't want my hobby to become baking soda and vinegar volcanoes





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Mr. Rogers
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[*] posted on 20-10-2018 at 19:07


Quote: Originally posted by nimgoldman  
Quote: Originally posted by Ubya  
you mentioned the problem with liquid or solid waste like solutions or salts, but the waste we make is much more, you have to consider liquid waste (washings, mother liquors etc), solid waste (filtrates, residues, but also gloves, contaminated tissues etc), gaseous waste (the "do it outside" can be annoying to the neightborhood, and to ambientalists).
a regular lab has many more restrictions than us, if we are going to be regulated we would need to follow strict rules, but as you can see on this forum, we tend to be cheap and janky, not everyone can afford a real fumehood with appropriate certificates for example. our hobby can be dangerous to us and to the enviroment, so probably we could practice amateur chemistry only if we had the equivalent of a research lab, something 99% of us can't afford because of money, space or other reasons


This is exactly the reason why my hobby is more or less clandestine. Making it perfectly legal would be financially prohibitive.


If I had to run my "hobby" lab like a lab under the the nose of OSHA or the EPA it would cease to be enjoyable, I would imagine.

That doesn't mean I don't strive to run a safe ship with minimal environmental impact - just that many of these regulations are geared toward occupational producers of large amounts of waste and may not be directly applicable to a small-scale home chemist.

My city runs a sort of "amnesty" once a year where you can bring in small quantities of waste, no questions asked. That might be a reasonable compromise between heightened regulation and no regulation? I've dropped off mercury and chromium-containing waste and they don't bat an eye.


[Edited on 21-10-2018 by Mr. Rogers]
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