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Hazardous Material Safety

What is hazardous waste?

Hazardous waste is unwanted or discarded hazardous materials that may harm the health or well-being of people or the environment. The basic waste types are:

  • Chemical
  • Radioactive
  • Biohazardous

Whenever possible keep these types of waste separate from each other. Disposal of mixtures of these is difficult and expensive. Also, to help minimize hazardous waste generation—be sure to keep your hazardous wastes separated from normal non-hazardous wastes as much as possible.

Any hazardous waste that needs to be identified, or removed can be done by contacting:

  • Environmental Safety: Sharon Andersen – 901-448-6115

Any biological wastes that needs to be addressed can be done by contacting:

  • Research Safety - 901-448-7374

What is chemical waste?

Chemical waste is any waste that is toxic, corrosive, ignitable or otherwise listed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This includes laboratory chemicals, cleaning products, paint, copier toner, batteries, fluorescent bulbs, electronic devices, photographic and shop chemicals. If you are unsure whether the waste you generate is hazardous, please contact Campus Safety.

Certain expired and unusable chemicals are hazardous waste and subject to regulations. Watch for expiration dates on containers of peroxide-forming chemicals including ethers.

What about radioactive waste?

If your waste has a radioactive component, please visit Research Safety's training page for assistance and required training. 

Campus Protocol

Use of chemicals and hazardous materials on UTHSC is overseen by the Hazardous Materials and Waste Management specialist under Campus Safety, and in support of the Research Safety department.

The Hazardous Materials and Waste Management section serves the UTHSC campus community through the education, minimization, and appropriate disposal of hazardous materials.

In addition, this section manages the disposal of certified non-biohazardous wastes; manages a campus lamp and battery recycling program (Universal Wastes); and responds to spills of hazardous materials. Other services that are provided include guidance on equipment disposal/remediation and pollution prevention and spill prevention.

Valuable, detailed guidelines pertaining to laboratory-worker health and safety practices and the management of hazardous wastes can be found in the Generators’ Guide to Hazardous Waste. 

Research Safety Department

Research Safety works closely with the Hazmat section to help keep laboratories and other areas of campus that utilize hazardous materials safe and compliant.  In regards to hazardous materials and waste management, the Research Safety provides hazardous materials and waste management training; lab safety trainings; chemical safety inspections; and maintenance of the chemical inventory system. 

Research Safety also manages the Regulated Medical Waste (RMW) program, through the Institutional Biological Safety Officer. Regulated Medical Waste (RMW) is material that may be contaminated with blood, bodily fluids, or other infectious materials. RMW may also be referred to as “biohazardous” or “infectious waste." RMW must be properly handled and disposed of in order to minimize the risk of transmitting infection or endangering human health. RMW that contains Bio Safety Level 2 organisms must be autoclaved or otherwise decontaminated prior to disposal.

RMW must be collected in rigid containers lined with red bags imprinted with the infectious waste biohazard symbol.  Any sharps or materials contaminated with infectious agents that may puncture a red bag must be deposited in a sharps disposal container. 

Consult the University’s Regulated Medical Waste Policy and Biological Safety Manual for specific information regarding management of biological agents and RMW. 

For more information, visit the Research Safety page.

Last Published: Nov 27, 2017