An Overview of Hazardous Chemicals

An Overview of Hazardous Chemicals

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Materials that are extremely hazardous to property, health or the environment (highly toxic gas, explosive, highly water reactive, and pyrophoric materials for example) must not be procured until the necessary permits, administrative, engineering and environmental controls are in place.

Hazardous materials must be stored and used in accordance with numerous regulations including, but not limited to, the Uniform Fire Code and local amendments.

Permits are required for any quantity of highly hazardous material, and for small to moderate quantities of other materials. (For example, a permit is required for any quantity of highly toxic or unstable material and for flammable liquids in quantities in excess of five gallons in a building).
Contact the Fire Department directly or EH&S Facility Safety office (206.543.0465) for assistance.

Rooms where hazardous materials are stored or used in quantities that exceed certain thresholds, and rooms dedicated to storing hazardous materials are required to have a National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) diamond sign on all doors. Call EH&S Facility Safety office at 543-0465 for further information and signs.

Flammable Liquids: The quantity of flammable liquids in a single laboratory stored outside of an approved flammable liquids cabinet must not exceed 10 gallons. All 10 gallons, unless in use, must be stored in approved containers as indicated in the table below.

Peroxide Forming Chemicals: Peroxides may form in some organic compounds by autoxidation. Peroxides can cause serious accidents and, in some circumstances, become low power explosives that can be set off by shock, sparks or other forms of ignition. Some organic compounds form peroxides in a matter of months under the right circumstance. Be aware of organic compounds in your lab and remember to mark the expiration date on each container and review them periodically for disposal. Ether is an example of peroxide forming chemical.

Pyrophoric Material: Pyrophoric material is a material that will spontaneously ignite when it comes into contact with air. This material is only permitted in fire sprinkler protected laboratories in very small quantities (4 pounds aggregate per zone). Potassium metal is an example of a pyrophoric material. Extreme precaution is required when working with this type of material.

Highly Toxic Material: Materials classified as highly toxic are only permitted in small quantities in University buildings (Up to 10 pounds per zone). Highly toxic gas, like Arsine, is not allowed in any quantity without engineering controls and a special permit from the Seattle Fire Department.

Incompatible Materials: Incompatible materials are materials which, when in contact with each other, have the potential to react in a manner that generate heat, fumes, gases, or byproducts which are hazardous. For quantities of greater than 5 pounds or 1/2 gallon, separation by not less than 20 feet, approved cabinets, or a noncombustible partition is required. Smaller quantities should also be isolated whenever practical. A common violation is flammable liquids stored with oxidizers.

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Flammable Liquids and Basements: The International Fire Code prohibits storage of flammable liquids in basements. However, there are two general exceptions as follows that apply to the University of Washington:

Existing grandfathered Class H Occupancy rooms (i.e., chemical stockrooms design specifically for bulk storage of flammable liquids). New Class H occupancy rooms for flammable liquids are not allowed in basements.

Your waste will be picked up in two to four weeks. Please plan ahead and be patient. Each waste item must be tracked from the point of generation to incineration, and we do the paperwork for hundreds of containers of waste every week. Chemicals that are corrosive, flammable, toxic, or explosive are by legal definition “hazardous”. Some additional chemicals are handled as hazardous waste because they are carcinogenic, persistent in the environment, or are not allowed in the trash because they generate dusts or other hazard. Large volumes of waste or numbers of containers may take longer to collect due to the long time it takes to process the chemicals (it usually takes an hour to process one Chemical Collection Request) and the limited space on our trucks. Routine collection requests are faster because much of the paperwork is done already. If your waste is accumulated improperly (according the above guidelines), we will stop to discuss the problem with you if you are present. We will not pick up your waste until the problem has been corrected.

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All new employees as well as anyone rusty on the basics of hazardous waste management should take this training. It covers hazardous waste definitions, labeling, storage, and disposal and includes a short quiz, all of which should take only ten to twenty minutes to complete. If you pass the quiz, you may request a certificate of completion for your training records at any job that you are working at.