This section has been reviewed and updated as needed: April 2012

As a generator of hazardous waste, the University is required to comply with federal standards promulgated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Transportation (DOT). These regulations require documentation of the transfer of hazardous waste from the point of generation to it’s final disposal. Each waste generator, (ie; lab), is responsible for correctly identifying the hazardous waste generated in his/her work area, thereby ensuring proper transportation and disposal. The Environment, Health and Safety Office assists by picking up and transporting the waste back to the Hazardous Materials Facility, then preparing the waste for off-site disposal by treatment, energy recovery, or reclamation.

Waste containers must be:

  • Labeled with the words “Hazardous Waste” or other clear chemical identification
  • Securely closed except when material is being added or removed
  • Placed in secondary containment if the container is a liquid, and in quantities of 4 liters or less, or if the container is made of glass and is stored on the floor.

For chemical waste removal, please complete an online waste disposal form. A separate form must be completed for each different chemical. The approved chemical waste form, or e-510 form, is to be attached to the container. The Environment, Health and Safety Office transport the waste to the UNC Hazardous Material Facility (HMF) for segregation and repackaging prior to treatment, energy recovery, reclamation or off-site disposal.

Waste Minimization

The most significant way that University employees can assist in the management of hazardous waste is to reduce the volume of waste required to be handled by the Environment, Health and Safety Office. Laboratories are encouraged to consider ways of reducing the volume of waste or preserving the usability of the materials through the redesign of experiments. Support services are encouraged to explore the use of nonhazardous cleaners, paints and solvents. Recyclable materials should be kept separate from other waste. The Environment, Health and Safety Office welcomes ideas and suggestions about how production of hazardous waste can be reduced through source reduction, recycling, redesign of experiments, or decontamination.

EPA Hazardous Waste

Current EPA regulations apply to wastes having the following characteristics:

  • Ignitability: liquids with a flash point of less than 60°C (140°F); oxidizers; flammable gases; and solids capable of burning vigorously and persistently after ignition through friction, absorption of moisture, or spontaneous chemical changes at standard temperature and pressure.
  • Corrosivity: aqueous solutions with a pH less than or equal to 2 or greater than or equal to 12.5; liquids which corrode steel at a rate greater than 6.35 mm per year at 55°C.
  • Reactivity: chemicals normally unstable that undergo violent change, react violently with water, form potentially explosive mixtures with water, emit toxic vapors when mixed with water, capable of detonation or explosive reaction.
  • Toxicity: 43 specified heavy metals, solvents and pesticides.
  • Listed wastes: discarded commercial chemical products or off-spec commercial chemical products. The EPA specifically names over 600 chemicals which are hazardous due to toxicity, reactivity and/or ignitability.

Additional Wastes

EPA hazardous waste regulations do not address many materials used in research activities which pose a threat to health when not managed properly. These include mutagens, carcinogens, teratogens, oils, refrigerants, herbicides, pesticides, cleaners, and controlled substances. By-products associated with nanotechnology are also deemed to be hazardous waste, and managed by the Environment, Health and Safety Office.

Further Reference

All lab occupants who handle chemicals must take this online training course. Please post the Hazardous Waste Management Fact Sheet in your lab so that can be easily seen.

Environment, Health and Safety Office (919-962-5507).