Appendix B - Disposal of Nonhazardous Laboratory Waste Down The Sanitary Sewer
Disposal of Nonhazardous Laboratory Waste Down the Sanitary Sewer
Chemical Drain Disposal Policy
Research and other operations at Cornell University generate chemical waste requiring disposal. Some of these chemicals can be recycled in the chemical surplus program to be reused by other members of the Cornell community, while other chemicals are classified as hazardous waste and specific rules must be followed, prior to disposal, to be in compliance with federal, state and local regulations.
This policy establishes requirements and limitations regarding disposal of chemicals into campus laboratory drain systems. The policy is based in part on limits imposed on disposal systems within the core Ithaca campus, which terminate at the Ithaca Area Wastewater Treatment (IAWT) Facility. Limitations may differ for locations that are not connected to the Ithaca area sanitary sewer system (such as laboratories in Geneva, New York City, or other locations) and additional prohibitions will apply to any drain that terminates at a local on-site system (leach field or similar). Do not dispose of any chemicals into a storm sewer or similar untreated disposal options. Contact your local EH&S representative for guidance in areas outside of the core Ithaca campus.
Any questions regarding the disposal of chemicals generated in university operations (labs, shops, maintenance, campus life, building care, etc) should be directed to Environmental Health & Safety at AskEHS
. Any questions regarding the disposal of chemicals or wastewater from construction activities or utilities should be directed to Environmental Health & Safety at AskEHS
Within individual work areas and laboratories, authorization for specific operations, delineation of appropriate safety procedures and instruction about these procedures is the responsibility of the Principal Investigators and/or supervisors. This includes appropriate chemical waste disposal practices and accidental discharges.
It is the responsibility of each Cornell employee to ensure that chemical waste generated from their activities is disposed of properly. Some materials may be safely disposed of into the sanitary sewer while most cannot due to potential damage to human health, the environment or the functioning of the Ithaca Area Wastewater Treatment Facility.
Prohibited From Drain DisposalCertain classes of chemicals cannot be poured down the drain - they must be collected and disposed of as hazardous waste using the Cornell University Department of Environmental Health and Safety’s waste procedures. If you have questions regarding the proper collection and disposal of aqueous solutions, low concentrations or small volumes of chemicals within the categories below, contact EH&S at AskEHS. See the Ithaca Area Wastewater Treatment Facility specific prohibitions section 264-5 for more information.
The following classes of chemicals are prohibited from drain disposal:
- Any flammable liquids with a flashpoint less than 140 degrees F – including but not limited to any quantity of gasoline, kerosene, naptha, benzene, toluene, xylene, fuel oil, ethers, ketones, aldehydes, chlorates, perchlorates, bromates, carbides, hydrides and sulfides. This does not include aqueous solutions of these compounds that have a flashpoint greater than 140 degrees F.
- Explosive chemicals
- Any Liquids, Solids or Gases that pose a fire hazard alone or can potentially interact with other chemicals in the sewer and become a fire or explosion hazard
- Solutions outside the pH range of 5.5 to 9.5. Labs may neutralize acids and bases to a pH within this range and then drain dispose, provided there are no prohibited items in the solution.
- Halogenated hydrocarbons and aqueous mixtures containing halogenated hydrocarbons (including but not limited to: bromodichloromethane, chloroform, chloromethane, dibromochloromethane, methylene chloride, tetrachloroethene)
- Insoluble materials
- Mercury Metal (any discharge down the drain must be reported per the Accidental Discharge procedure)
- Water reactive materials (including but not limited to aluminum alkyls, barium, lithium, potassium, sodium, sodium borohydride, zinc powder or zinc dust)
- Radioactive materials
- Infectious substances
- Photographic Chemicals
- Developer solutions containing Hydroquinone or heavy metals such as Barium or Selenium
- Used fixer solutions. (These contain silver that is recycled through Cornell University's Silver Reclamation program via EH&S)
- Any solids or viscous substances capable of causing obstruction to the flow of sewers, including but not limited to:
- Particulates greater than ½ inch in any direction
- Animal products (gut or tissue, paunch manure, bones, hair, hides or fleshing, entrails, whole blood, feathers)
- Ashes, cinders, sand, spent lime, stone or marble dust, metal, glass or residues from glass grinding or polishing, straw, shavings, grass clippings, spent grains
- Rags, waste paper, wood, plastics, rubber, tar, asphalt residues, mud
- Residues from refining or processing of fuel or lubricating oil, petroleum oil, non-biodegradable cutting oil, or products of mineral oil origin
- Water soluble polymers that could form gels in the sewer system
- Any solution alone or by interaction with waste that can cause a noxious or malodorous gas (such as: Hydrogen Sulfide, Sulfur Dioxide, Nitrous Oxide) that can be hazardous individually or by reaction with other components in the sewer
- Any chemical that either alone or if mixed with other wastes results in the presence of toxic gases, vapors and/or fumes that could be harmful to utilities workers, workers of the Ithaca Wastewater Treatment Facility or create a public nuisance
- Malodorous chemicals such as Mercaptans
- Rinsate from the highly hazardous P listed wastes – first rinse of the triple rinse protocol
- Carcinogens as grouped by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)
- Mutagens or Teratogens, such as Ethidium Bromide
Please note, if you are generating or planning to generate large volumes of waste that you think may exceed these limits, then please contact Environmental Health & Safety at AskEHS for further information.
Acceptable Chemicals For Drain
The following list identifies chemicals that can be disposed of down the drain, providing the solution does not contain materials otherwise prohibited.
- Aqueous solutions such as salts and buffer solutions within the 5.5 to 9.5 pH range
- Chemicals that are water soluble and are non-hazardous by way of definition
- Naturally occurring Amino Acids and Salts
- Citric acid and its Na, K, Mg, Ca, and Ammonium Salts
- Lactic acid and its Na, K, Mg, Ca and Ammonium Salts
- Acids and bases that have been neutralized and fall within the 5.5 to 9.5 pH range
- Biological liquids that have been treated with disinfectant or autoclaved
- Photographic chemicals
- Developer solutions that DO NOT contain Hydroquinone or heavy metals above the listed limits above
- Stop Baths
- Photo Flo (surfactant)
- Chemicals within the defined limits (see above table)
- Mop water
Accidental DischargeSewer use law has reporting requirements for accidental discharge. It is the responsibility of the person causing any accidental discharge to notify EH&S IMMEDIATELY at AskEHS if prohibited chemicals or solutions containing prohibited chemicals are accidently poured or spilled down the drain via sink, plumbed equipment or floor drains. Any accidental discharge from construction activities or utilities should be directed to Environmental Health & Safety at AskEHS.
Faculty, staff and students should be made aware of their roles and responsibilities for accidental discharge by in-house training and or posting in a central communication area. Notification should include:
- Building and room number
- Detailed description what went down the drain, for example:
- Names of chemical(s)
- Concentration and percent in solution
- Volume lost
- Any corrective actions taken