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Hazardous Waste

Hazardous chemical waste

It is vitally important that all waste produced by university laboratories is disposed of in a safe and legally compliant manner. Failure to dispose of waste in accordance with legal requirements can lead to the prosecution of both the university and the individual concerned.

Waste materials are divided into two basic types, hazardous and non-hazardous. The term is used to asses a materials ability to damage the environment, and is not related to its potential impact on human health, e.g. waste electronic goods are considered to be a hazardous waste, yet represent no health risk to humans.

All waste must be disposed of via a licensed contractor who is approved for the transport and disposal of the types of waste being handled. Failure to do so may leave the university at risk of prosecution.

As a rule the following should be considered as hazardous wastes:

o Any material contaminated or potentially contaminated with an infectious agent (unless it has been suitably treated to eliminate the infectious agent)

o All human tissues, blood and related swabs and wipes from hospitals or laboratories

o Animal carcasses and dressings from veterinary hospitals / practices

o Microbiological cultures

o Potentially infected waste from pathology or research labs

o Most chemical wastes o Most electrical wastes

o Contaminated sharps

o Empty unclean containers, the previous contents of which are deemed to be hazardous wastes

o All radioactive wastes.

If there is any confusion as to whether a waste material is hazardous or not, an assessment of what constitutes a hazardous or non-hazardous waste must be left to a specialist.

Almost all chemical waste is hazardous. The cost of chemical waste disposal should be considered when purchasing a chemical for use. Some chemicals are particularly expensive to dispose of, e.g. temperature sensitive compounds. General advice for dealing with chemical wastes:

o Do not buy chemicals in bulk if you do not need to.

o Chemical waste should be disposed of promptly and on a regular basis.

o Chemical waste should not be allowed to accumulate. Research students must not leave ‘waste legacies’ behind them.

o Different types of chemical wastes should be segregated where the opportunity arises, e.g. do not mix halogenated with non halogenated solvents if you can avoid it; always separate mercury containing wastes from all other wastes. Do not mix chemical wastes indiscriminately, it can make disposal difficult. Do not mix incompatible wastes together.

o All chemical waste containers must be clearly labelled as to their contents; the use of expressions such as ‘waste solvents’ is not sufficient. Waste labels should also be renewed as appropriate as they may become torn or unreadable over time. Waste containers should also be labelled with the date of filling and the name of the producer and / or the laboratory where the waste originated if possible.

o Where appropriate similar chemicals should be bulked-up into larger containers e.g. bulk compatible waste solvents into 200l drums if possible.

o Researchers must ensure that all ‘products’ of research are properly labelled and their properties are fully understood and recorded.

o All persons should be aware of the potential for chemical waste materials to become unstable if left for long periods, e.g. picric acid; 2,4-dinitrophenol; isopropyl ether.

o Chemical waste must always be stored in a safe manner commensurate with its properties.

Almost all chemical wastes will have to be disposed of via a licensed hazardous waste disposal operator. Some agents may be suitable for treatment on site to render them non-hazardous thus allowing them to be sent for disposal as non-hazardous wastes. The recycling of chemical wastes on site should always be considered where appropriate.

The carrier of the waste is responsible for providing you with the appropriate transport documentation, and classification and labelling before shipping.

Under the Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment Directive (WEEE Directive), manufacturers, producers and distributors of electronic and electrical equipment have a responsibility for the environmentally sound disposal of any such equipment that they place on the market.

The collection and disposal of any such products bought after the 13th August 2005 or which are being replaced like for like and fulfilling the same function is the responsibility of the manufacturer, producer or distributor. Please confer with your supplier in this regard.

The disposal of waste electrical products, which were purchased before 13th August 2005 and which are being disposed of and not being replaced, is the responsibility of the final user. Should any waste electrical equipment fall into this category please contact Estates Services to arrange for it’s collection and disposal. Please note that collection may take a number of days to organise. Further details are available from Estates Services.

Contact UCD SIRC Office

University SIRC Office, Roebuck Castle, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland.
T: +353 1 716 8768 | E: sirc@ucd.ie