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Hazardous Waste--What Is It?   

Always wear the proper PPE

Hazardous waste can include spent solvents as well as many pesticides and excess/discarded/spilled chemicals. This waste is generated from sources as diverse as the Motor Pool and the Laser Research Lab. A substance (gas, liquid, solid, or sludge) may be hazardous if it is ignitable, corrosive, toxic, or reactive.

It's important to remember that precautions should always be taken when working with a hazardous substance. Laboratories and garages aren't the only places these materials can be found. Products such as drain and toilet bowl cleaners should be handled with caution. Protect your eyes so nothing will splash into them, and wash off anything that spills on your skin (within 15 minutes).

Most of us forget about art supplies' inherent risks. Although lead is restricted from household paints, it's still present in many artists' paints--especially ceramic glazes. Other heavy metals, such as cadmium and mercury, may also be present. Be sure to use these paints in a well-ventilated area! Remember that paint cleaning solvents such as turpentine and kerosene are hazardous wastes.

Known hazardous waste and surplus chemicals (generated by campus sources) are picked up by the Environmental Health & Safety Department and transported to the campus chemical storage facility, where they are held for less than 90 days before final disposal. Departments are encouraged to check with EHS for any usable chemicals.

All chemical/hazardous disposals are managed according to state and federal laws. These complex laws are very specific about what can or cannot be managed. One hazardous substance that Hazmat personnel do not deal with is asbestos. Asbestos is covered by another set of laws and regulations, and is handled by the Physical Plant's asbestos section.

Any researcher who uses or generates biohazard waste in the course of an experiment is responsible for the proper disposal of that waste in accordance with National Institute of Health guidelines.

As yet, there are no regulations governing the disposal of household hazardous waste. For more information, contact the Payne County Health Department (405-372-8200).

Paperwork for Chemical Pickups

A Chemical Surplus Removal Request form is required before any chemical can be picked up. This lists the containers you have, as well as their constituent amounts, physical states, who's requesting the removal, where the chemicals are located, etc. Mail this to the Environmental Health & Safety Department (002 University Health Services).

Each container must be sealed and labeled with a Hazardous Chemical Surplus Tag (Form HM95-2). These tags list what chemicals are in the containers. All forms and tags are available from the EHS Department. Many departments keep a supply of these.

After the paperwork is received, the chemicals are researched for hazards and any special handling. This is to ensure that once a chemical is received, it can be handled, segregated, and disposed of safely.

Depending on the work load or the amount of chemical to be picked up, most requests are honored within two weeks.