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7.2 Organic Solvents

Most spent organic solvents will be classified as an F-Listed or Characteristic hazardous waste.  Laboratories or other areas generating more than 5 gallons of hazardous waste (spent solvents) per month should accumulate the waste in safety cans.  EHS will provide 5 gallon safety cans to generators of solvent hazardous waste on a case-by-case basis.  Users of safety cans must make sure that the words "Hazardous Waste" and other wording describing the solvents in the waste are clearly marked on the safety can as soon as waste begins to be accumulated.  Except when waste is being added to or removed from a safety can containing hazardous waste, its lid needs to be closed at all times.

Do not dispose of organic solvents down the drain. Generators of organic solvents should keep non-halogenated waste solvents separated from halogenated waste solvents to the fullest extent possible. EHS bulks organic solvents into 55 gallon metal drums for fuels blending. It costs approximately twice as much to dispose of a drum of halogenated waste solvents versus a drum of nonhalogenated waste solvents.

Safety cans should only be used for the storage of waste organic solvents. Other wastes are inappropriate for fuels blending, can have a detrimental effect on the integrity of the metal 55 gallons drums used, and represent a serious health and safety issue to EHS staff.

Please do your part to help keep waste disposal costs down by:

  • Keeping corrosive wastes separated from organic solvents whenever possible.
  • Keeping nonhalogenated organic solvents separated from halogenated organic solvents whenever possible.

Examples of nonhalogenated organic solvents that are acceptable to be collected in safety disposal cans include:

  • Acetone
  • Acetonitrile
  • Ethanol 
  • Formaldehyde
  • Ether
  • Ethyl acetate
  • Hexane
  • Toluene
  • Xylenes

Examples of halogenated organic solvents that are acceptable to be collected in safety disposal cans include:

  • Methylene chloride
  • Chloroform
  • Carbon tetrachloride
  • Bromoform
  • Mixtures containing both halogenated and nonhalogenated organic solvents 

The following wastes must NOT be collected in safety disposal cans:

  • Strong acid or base solutions (a pH between 5.5 and 9.5 is acceptable)
  • Aqueous solutions of toxic organic chemicals
  • Heavy metals (Lead, Mercury, Silver, Chromium, Barium, etc.)
  • Vacuum pump used oil
  • Sulfides or inorganic cyanides
  • Strong oxidizers or reducers
  • Water reactive substances 
  • PCB waste 
  • Unknowns

Please be sure to include approximate percentages of all waste solvents placed in safety cans. Do not rely on your memory to label solvents, keep a running list of solvents that you add to the safety disposal can.

Hazardous Waste Labels from EHS should be used when collecting hazardous chemical waste in safety cans. When requesting removal using the online form, it is important to note the size of the container(s) to be removed.  For more information on safety disposal cans, please contact EHS at "askEHS".