EPA Updates to Hazardous Waste Regulations
In November 2016, the US Environmental Protection Agency changed the rules for managing hazardous waste. These changes become effective in Iowa on June 1, 2017. Three of these changes directly affect faculty, students, and staff at Iowa State University. EH&S has updated Iowa State’s hazardous waste management program to meet the new requirements:
- Decide if the material is hazardous. Prior to the new rules, EH&S made this decision on behalf of the laboratory users and waste generators after the material was transported to the hazardous waste facility on campus. Generators of hazardous waste must now make this decision at the point of generation. The orange waste tags provide a check box for generators to record this decision. “Is it hazardous?” Check “Yes” or “No.” If the material exhibits any of the characteristics shown in “Step 2,” the material is hazardous.
- Label hazardous waste containers with the words, “Hazardous Waste” and an indication of the hazards. The orange waste tags now provide check boxes for generators to identify the hazardous characteristics of the material. Newer chemical containers have warning labels with pictograms or key words that provide this information. Safety data sheets are also an appropriate reference for determining the hazardous characteristics.
- Maintain a spill kit in each location where hazardous waste is created. This change has minimal impact on campus because shops and laboratories already have materials on hand to clean up a minor spill. The change does encourage users to re-evaluate the work area, identify the types of material likely to spill, and maintain a spill kit that is appropriate for the material used. Oil dry is appropriate for fuels and solvents; soda ash or calcium carbonate will neutralize corrosive materials; sand is used to smother flammable metals; sorbent pads and spill booms help prevent the spread of liquids into floor drains or storm sewers.