Section 11: Unknown Wastes

EHSS will not remove any wastes for disposal without a properly filled out hazardous waste label on the hazardous waste container and a completely filled out University Hazardous Waste Pickup Form (see section 4 of this Manual). Before calling EHSS for removal of a container with unidentified contents, the department must gather all relevant information on the container.

Identification and disposal of chemical unknowns is an expensive, time consuming and dangerous process. If no information can be gathered on the unknown container, the analytical costs can be as high as $1500 and will be charged back to the generator’s department. EHSS staff will provide consultation on the identification process, but the generator must provide the background research, information and contact the previous occupants.

Guidelines for preventing the generation of unknown wastes are:

  • Proper laboratory management will eliminate unknowns
  • Keep all materials labeled.
  • In the event of a staff turnover, dispose of all materials which are no longer in use. Areas, which use and store chemicals and chemical wastes, should follow the guidelines in the University Chemical Hygiene Plan including the Checklist for Temporary Closure of a Laboratory found on the EHSS website.
  • Department personnel are requested to actively assist in identification of chemical constituents present in all unknown waste containers.
  • Unknown chemicals may require analysis at an outside laboratory at the generator department’s expense.
  • Use any existing knowledge about the waste and the processes to eliminate classes of hazards.
  • Call EHSS for assistance (x-4132).

All costs associated with “unknown” determinations are the responsibility of the generator department.

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