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7.17 Unknowns

You must make every effort to provide an accurate description of all chemicals that you dispose of through the hazardous waste management program. Without an accurate description, the chemical cannot be handled or disposed of safely. Waste disposal companies will not accept unknown chemical waste without the generator providing a sample analysis which can be very expensive.

Many unknown chemicals are generated due to a lack of good housekeeping and good laboratory safety practices. ALL containers used to store chemicals must be labeled. Containers in which the labels are degrading or falling off should be given a new label. There are numerous reference materials with methods and procedures that can be used in identifying unknown chemicals.

It is the responsibility of the generator of the waste to field test the material before it is sent in to be analyzed so that the testing lab has as much information on the unknown material as possible. For example, if you know the pH, or the water and solvent solubility of the material, or the history and use of the material is known.

If you need to dispose of an unknown material you must first complete and submit a copy of the Unknown Chemical Waste Characterization Form found in Appendix C of this manual.  A completed form must be submitted for each unknown chemical container.  Please be sure to include the Cornell Hazardous Waste Label number on each completed form.