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BC Public Safety

Hazardous Waste Program

environmental health & safety

The Waste Management Program at Boston College oversees the collection and disposal of a number of waste streams from facilities, studios, residences, and laboratories. We manage regulated hazardous wastes — chemicals, oils, paints and paint thinners, pesticides, and cleaners. We also assist the generators in arranging for disposal of biohazard and sharps wastes, photographic wastes, gas cylinders, and recyclable wastes such as batteries and electronic equipment.


Batteries used on campus are recycled. Batteries ready to be recycled can be dropped off at the following locations:

  • O'Neill Library, Level 2, adjacent to the elevators
  • St. Clement's, Room 212
  • Most residence hall laundry rooms

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Biological Waste in Research Labs

Refer to BC's BioSafety Manual, Section 12, for complete details. All procedures for treatment and disposal must comply with the Massachusetts State Sanitary Code (105 CMR 480.000). Each Department handling biological material will define the following procedures: 1. individual(s) designated and qualified to perform procedure; 2. method(s) of segregation and labeling of waste prior to treatment; 3. treatment procedure(s) will be defined; 4. documentation of treatment and disposal.

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Chemical Waste

Chemical Waste Management

Following are the steps to follow in managing waste that you produce in your operations or activities:

Container — Choose the correct container for your waste, something both chemically compatible with the material and appropriately sized. Do not put a small amount of waste in a large container unless you know you will be collecting a large amount.

Label — Every container holding hazardous waste MUST be labeled at the time the waste is first put in it. The label must have the following information:

Wastes produced in laboratories:
• List of ingredients with proportions, not abbreviated
• Appropriate Hazards — ignitable, corrosive, reactive, toxic

Wastes NOT produced in laboratories:
• List of Ingredients with proportions, not abbreviated
• Appropriate Hazards — ignitable, corrosive, reactive, toxic
• Date the container is full

Labels are available from EH&S (2-0308).

Storage — Wastes in storage in your work area must meet the following requirements:
• Secondary Containment for all liquid wastes.
• Segregation from incompatible wastes

Request Pickup — Once waste is ready to be moved to a central accumulation area, fill out a Hazardous Waste Collection Form. Drop off in the designated area in your department, or call EH&S for a pickup.

For All Areas:

  • Flammable wastes can be stored only in 1-gallon containers, except for 2.5-gallon fireproof rated cans.
  • Waste containers must be kept closed at all times except when adding waste.
  • Non-chemical wastes (e.g., broken glass, paper, etc.) should be placed in designated containers only after ensuring that such wastes are free of residues of hazardous chemicals.
  • Call the EH&S Office for the procedure on disposal of unknown chemicals.
  • If your department has a large amount of waste due to a clean-out, contact EH&S for disposal procedures. DO NOT include waste clean outs in the regular pickups.

For Laboratories:

  • Waste containers must be kept closed at all times except when pouring waste.
  • Once waste is ready to be moved to the central hazardous waste area, a Hazardous Waste Collection Form must be filled out. All completed forms should be dropped off at the specified location in your department, or call EH&S (2-0308).
  • If your laboratory has a large amount of waste due to a cleanout, contact the EH&S Office for disposal procedures. DO NOT include waste cleanouts in the regular pick-ups.

Chemical Waste Segregation

Chemicals needed to be stored according to their hazard class, both in lab storage and in the waste area. Segregation prevents hazardous situations from occurring if containers break and their contents are mixed. The general storage categories are as follows:

  • Acids – Inorganic
  • Acids – Organic
  • Bases – Alkaline
  • Bases – Flammable
  • Flammable Liquids
  • Solvents – Halogenated
  • Mercury or any solutions containing Metals
  • Reactives – Peroxide Formers, Water Reactive – evaluate storage requirements and risks
  • Oxidizers
  • Oil
Chemical Disposal Procedures

A hazardous waste service company is used to collect hazardous waste from locations on campus and transport to Main Accumulation Areas (MAA). No Boston College employee or student is allowed to take hazardous waste to the MAA, unless authorized by EH&S.

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DEA Material

Disposal of DEA regulated materials is the responsibility of the licensee. Please call EH&S at (617) 552-0300 for assistance.

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There are numerous potential environmental and health and safety risks associated with disposal of equipment. In order to ensure that equipment has been appropriately cleaned and managed, consult the checklist below. In addition, BC attempts to dispose of equipment through recycling options if possible. Please contact EH&S for more information.

Review the following prior to disposing of equipment:

  1. Was the equipment used in radioactive experiments or used to store radioactive materials? Does it have a radiation sticker, or is there a radioactive source in the equipment? Contact the Associate Radiation Safety Officer at EH&S, x2-0308.
  2. Could the equipment be contaminated with hazardous chemicals? If possible, the equipment should be thoroughly cleaned prior to disposal. If it is not possible to decontaminate the equipment, contact EH&S for disposal.
  3. Was the equipment used for biohazardous material? If yes, the equipment should be decontaminated with appropriate cleaners prior to disposal.
  4. If the equipment is a refrigerator, freezer, or other type of equipment that contains refrigerant, contact the Mechanical Shop through the Work Order Center at x2-3048 to arrange for removal of refrigerant prior to disposal. (Make sure that lab equipment is otherwise decontaminated prior to contacting the Mechanical Shop.)
  5. Does the equipment contain oils, antifreeze, or other types of chemicals? If yes, the chemical/oil should be drained prior to disposal. The drained material can be put into hazardous waste containers and picked up by EH&S for disposal.
  6. If the equipment could contain asbestos, such as an oven, contact EH&S for disposal.

After reviewing the above criteria and following the appropriate steps, make sure all hazard stickers are removed prior to disposal.

If the equipment has a BC tag indicating that it was purchased through Capital Funding or through Grants & Contracts, or if you don’t know, contact Plant Accounting (x2-3949) for approval prior to disposal.

Finally, after following the above procedures, place a work order at x2-3048 for the Grounds Crew to pick up equipment for disposal or recycling.

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Fluorescent Lamps

The phosphor powder found inside fluorescent lamps contains mercury. These lamps are handled and disposed of by qualified BC employees and sent off site for recycling.

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Gas Cylinders

  1. AirGas is the primary supplier of our compressed gases and we rent cylinders containing gases.  Check with your Operations Manager for department specific processes.
  2. Small lecture-size gas cylinders, once empty*, will be picked up by our hazardous waste vendor for disposal. Any apparatus should be disconnected from valve and the valve plug installed. *For inert gases, please use all the gas in the the cylinder and mark the cylinder "empty." Place them in your hazwaste area inside the lab. If you need to dispose of cylinders containing flammable or toxic gas, inform the hazardous waste chemist who comes through the lab.
  3. If you come across any old or unknown cylinders, report them immediately to you building Operations Manager.  ANY information you can gather about the history of these cylinders is helpful in their disposal.
  4. If gas samples called "spuds" are received, arrangements should be made for return to the manufacturer. The department accepting these samples is responsible for this function.
  5. Releasing contents of a cylinder in a fume hood as a disposal method is strictly prohibited.
  6. Call the EH&S Office for the procedure on disposal of unknown chemicals.
  7. If your department has a large amount of waste due to a cleanout, contact EH&S for disposal procedures. DO NOT include waste cleanouts in the regular pickups.

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Photographic Waste


Used photographic fixer should be collected for disposal or processing through silver recovery. Silver recovery is available in Devlin 009 and the Higgins darkrooms.

Photographic developer can generally be poured down the sinks to go to the sanitary sewer system. Confirmation of sewer disposal should be made with EH&S.

Other photographic chemicals should be collected for review by EHBS prior to disposal.

Recycling-Silver Recovery Unit Operations

Operation of this unit is currently limited to material generated in the darkroom in Devlin, Room 009. BC has a permit with the DEP to operate this unit. Metallic silver is collected from used fixer. The darkrooms in Higgins also have in-line silver recovery units.

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Radioactive Waste

Refer to Boston College's Radiation Safety Manual, Section IV, "Standard Procedures" and "Appendix S Proper Segregation/Minimization & Disposal of Radioactive Wastes" for complete information on disposal procedures.

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Sharps (Laboratory-generated sharps only)

Place all sharps in the hard-sided red plastic sharps containers or double-walled cardboard boxes. If sharps are potentially infectious, disinfect in a solution of 10% household bleach* in water, enough to cover the materials. Soak for 20 minutes, then drain before disposal. Alternatively, autoclave infectious sharps.

In Merkert, sharps containers are collected outside room M016.

In Higgins, notify John O'Grady at extension x2-6778 if you need a sharps pick-up.

For sharps generated in medical use, contact Health Services at x2-3225 for information on management and disposal.

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Toner and Other Office Supplies

Certain office supplies are hazardous to health or the environment. Examples are inks, toners, liquid Wite-Out, and cleaning solvents. Do not buy more of these supplies than you will use up in a reasonable time. Cost savings by buying in bulk are lost in the cost of disposal.

Used ink and toner cartridges may be sent back to the manufacturer for recycling.  Small ink cartridges for ink-jet printers may be returned to local Staples stores. Most manufacturers for larger cartridges are including instructions and return boxes for shipment with orders. Questions on disposal may be directed to the distributor (e.g. WB Mason), to the manufacturer, or to EH&S.

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