labpacks of organic solids), waste disposal firms and off-site facilities often establish a waste-stream profile. In some cases, detailed analytical information is not necessary if waste containers fall within the profile’s hazard classification.

8.B.2.2 Identification Responsibilities of All Laboratory Personnel

Because proper management and disposal of laboratory waste requires information about its properties, it is very important that laboratory personnel accurately and completely identify and clearly label all chemical and waste containers in their laboratory, as well as maintain the integrity of source material labels. It is recommended that supplementary information be kept in a separate, readily available record (e.g., laboratory information system, lab notebook), especially for very small containers or collections. In academic laboratories where student turnover is frequent, identification is particularly important for the materials used or generated. This practice is as important for small quantities as it is for large quantities.

8.B.2.3 Characterization of Unknowns

Establishing the hazardous characteristics and evaluating the potential listing of clearly identified waste is usually quite simple. Unidentified materials (unknowns) present a problem, however, because recycling, treatment, and disposal facilities need to know characteristics and hazards to manage waste safely. All chemicals must be characterized sufficiently for safe transportation off-site.

Analysis of laboratory unknowns is expensive, especially if EPA methods must be used, or the presence of a constituent must be ruled out, and handling unknowns is risky due to the possible presence of unstable, reactive, or highly toxic chemicals or byproducts. Although expensive, some waste disposal firms offer on-site services to categorize unknown laboratory waste to prepare it for shipment to their treatment facility.

8.B.2.4 In-Laboratory Test Procedures for Unknowns

When the identity of the material is not known, simple in-laboratory test procedures can be carried out to determine the hazard class into which the material should be categorized. Because the generator may be able to supply some general information, it may be beneficial to carry out the test procedures before the materials are removed from the laboratory. Perform these tests only if they can be done safely, and only if they facilitate the characterization of the waste required by your hazardous waste disposal firm. Understand that the following test procedures are only to provide additional information, and do not meet EPA regulatory requirements for waste analysis.

In general, precisely determining the molecular structure of the unknown material is not necessary. Hazard classification usually satisfies the regulatory requirements and those of the treatment disposal facility. However, it is important to establish which analytical data are required by the disposal facility.

Trained laboratory personnel who carry out the analytical procedures should be familiar with the characteristics of the waste and any necessary precautions. Because the hazards of the materials being tested are unknown, the use of proper personal protection and safety devices such as chemical hoods and shields is imperative. Older samples are particularly dangerous because they may have changed in composition, for example, through the formation of peroxides. (See Chapter 4, section 4.D.3.2, for information on the formation and identification of peroxides. See Chapter 6, section 6.G.3, for information on testing and disposal of peroxides.)

The following information is commonly required by treatment and disposal facilities before they agree to handle unknown materials:

   physical description,

   water reactivity,

   water solubility,


   ignitability (flammability),

   presence of oxidizer,

   presence of sulfides or cyanides,

   presence of halogens,

   presence of radioactive materials,

   presence of biohazardous materials,

   presence of toxic constituents,

   presence of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and

   presence of high-odor compounds.

The following test procedures are readily accomplished by trained laboratory personnel. The overall sequence for testing is depicted in Figure 8.1 for liquid and solid materials.

   Physical description. Include the state of the material (solid, liquid), the color, and the consistency (for solids) or viscosity (for liquids). For liquid materials, describe the clarity of the solution (transparent, translucent, or opaque). If an unknown material is a bi- or tri-layered liquid, describe each layer separately, giving an approximate percentage of the total for each layer. After

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