Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Where do I get red/orange biowaste or autoclave bags?
Answer: Biowaste and autoclave bags should be available through your lab managers.
Question: Where do I get sharps containers?
Answer: Sharps containers must be purchased from a vendor like Fisher Scientific, VWR or Lab Safety Supply. Check with you lab manager.
Question: What do the green end caps on a fluorescent lamp indicate?
Answer: The green end caps are used to identify lamps of recent manufacture with a reduced amount of Mercury. Lamps that have silver end caps have a higher Mercury content.
Question: Can I dispose of lamps from my laboratory/office?
Answer: It is best to have Facilities Management handle spent fluorescent lamps. FM staff have been trained to make the recycling or disposal determination for each type of lamp.
Question: Where do I get hazardous waste tags?
Answer: If you are a part of the Chemistry, Biology, BioFrontiers, Engineering Departments, the lab managers should be able to provide them. All other groups, contact EHS at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Questions: How do I select a suitable container?
Answer: Hazardous material/waste must be stored in non-leaking chemically resistant containers, capped and separated by hazard class. To maximize program and cost efficiency, match container sizes to the volume of hazardous material/waste collected. Leave air space at the top to allow for expansion. Do not overfill containers. Re-use containers that chemicals originally came in for disposal whenever possible as long as they're non-leaking and compatible with the waste. Examples of inappropriate collection containers include milk cartons, juice containers, mason jars, and soft cartons or plastic trash bags for sharps.
Question: Where do I get waste containers?
Answer: If you are a part of the Chemistry, Biology, BioFrontiers, Engineering Departments, the lab managers should be able to provide them. All other groups, contact EHS at email@example.com
Question: Is secondary containment for chemicals required?
Answer: Generators are required to provide appropriate spill-prevention measures, such as secondary containment devices, and to segregate stored hazardous material/waste containers by chemical compatibility: oxidizers, flammables and combustibles, acids, bases and reactives. EH&S can assist in the selection of secondary containment.
Question: If I should not evaporate waste solvent in my laboratory, where does it go?
Answer: All waste solvent should be disposed of through the UCCS, Hazardous Waste Program.
Question: How do I sign up for hazardous waste training?
Answer: Annual training is required by Federal, State, and Local regulations, and University Policy. Hazardous waste generators should contact EH&S for training. EH&S presents annual classroom training sessions that are open to all generators. The training is also available online -
Question: How do I dispose of empty containers?
Answer: If containers cannot be reused to store and dispose of waste, follow the instructions below. These instructions are valid for all empty container types: glass, plastic or metal.
If contaminated with radioactive material:
STOP and contact Health Physics/Radiation Safety at 303-492-6523 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If contaminated with biologically infectious material:
Render noninfectious by autoclaving or chemical disinfection. Contact EHS at 255-3212 with any questions.
If contaminated with acutely hazardous EPA "P-Listed" Waste:
EPA "P-Listed" Waste, list viewable here:
If contaminated with chemical residues OTHER THAN acutely hazardous EPA "P-Listed" Waste.
If Non-Contaminated Glass
For large containers, such as 55-gallon drums
Contact the EHS for assistance at 255-3212 or email@example.com.
Question: What if I move into a lab with unknown materials?
Answer: If you "inherit" a lab that has unknown materials in it, please contact EH&S immediately. In most cases these materials can be identified and removed so they no longer represent a safety concern. Ignoring unknowns not only increases your safety risk but also reduces the chance of contacting a previous occupant, thereby making identification of the material that much harder.
Question: What Can I Do If I Don't Know What It Is?
Answer: Unknown or unlabeled hazardous materials create safety problems for laboratory, maintenance, and emergency personnel. The storage of unknown or unlabeled wastes is prohibited. EH&S will assist in the identification and classification of unknown chemicals to assure proper management and disposal. Fill out a waste tag with as much info as possible, for instance "unknown clear liquid, pH = 4, unknown yellow powder" etc. and submit to EH&S. Where an unknown material requires substantial analysis, costs incurred may be the responsibility of the generating department.
Question: Can I dump my material/waste down the drain?
Answer: Where generators, in consultation with EH&S, are able to certify that generated, outdated or treated materials are indeed non-hazardous. (i.e., nonflammable, nontoxic, non-reactive, does not contain heavy metals or - EPA-listed hazardous waste constituents) and has a pH between 5.5 and 10.5, disposal in the sanitary sewer may be permitted. Please call 255-3212 or e-mail EH&S at firstname.lastname@example.org to review your waste stream and discuss the most effective and responsible means of disposal.
Question: Does EHS provide equipment disposal?
Answer: When disposing of equipment via University Property Services and/or Facilities Management, the generator/client is responsible for cleanup or removal of any potential hazardous contamination. EHS can provide guidance and recommendations on these procedures as needed by the client.
For any questions regarding decontamination procedures for chemical hazards please call 255-3212
Question: How do I dispose of batteries?
Answer: Deposit batteries in the various battery collection containers located around campus. Please see the Office of Sustainability for a listing of public battery collection sites on campus. Any/all small sealed battery types are accepted in the collection containers including: alkaline batteries, rechargeable batteries, lithium cells, nickel-cadmium, sealed lead acid, button-cell, cell-phone batteries, laptop batteries, etc. For large and/or unsealed battery types, use the HMW tag for disposal. Do you want to help even further? -Please apply tape to all battery terminals or place each battery separately into a plastic baggie to prevent short circuits while in transit to the recycling facility. The University recycles all battery types.
Question: How do I get rid of gas cylinders?
Answer: Disposal of gas cylinders is extremely expensive! Please only order what you absolutely cannot do without. Order your gases in "rental" cylinders that can be returned vs. lecture bottles that need to be disposed of. Be aware that your department may be responsible for the cost of cylinder disposal. The EH&S hazardous waste facility is not permitted to store such vessels. Cylinders should be stored in a manner that limits access to unauthorized personnel and prevents them from falling. If you have cylinders to dispose of please contact the EHS for assistance at 255-32212 or email@example.com
Question: I don't generate waste. Do I need to do annual training?
Answer: If you are a supervisor of other waste generators, then Yes. If not, contact EH&S at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can update your information in our database.
Question: How do I schedule a Hazardous Material/Waste pickup?
Answer: To dispose of your hazardous material/waste, complete the Waste Removal Request and submit it to EHS. EHS will contact you and arrange a pick-up time
Question: How do I get rid of latex paint?
Answer: Please do not submit latex paint to EHS for hazardous waste collections. Thousands of tax dollars are spent each year disposing of latex paint as hazardous when, in fact, it is not hazardous. Use it up! Please open and read the following PDF Document.How to dispose of latex paint!!
Question: I will be out of town for a few weeks and unable to perform weekly satellite accumulation area inspections for my waste sites - what should I do?
Answer: If you will be out of town, first check if any of your trained generators will be able to perform the weekly inspection. If you have no trained generators or your trained generators will also be out of town or unable to perform the inspection, contact EHS so we can remove the waste from this area. This SAA then becomes inactive until you notify EHS that you are back and able to perform the inspections. During the inactivation you are declaring that no hazardous waste is present or will be generated.
Question: I have, or suspect I have, an indoor air quality (IAQ) problem in my building. Where do I start?
Answer: For acute conditions like out-of-place odors, call EHS at 255-3201. For all other IAQ complaints, contact Campus Services.
Question: I understand excessive mold growth indoors is a big contributor to indoor air quality problems. How can I minimize indoor mold growth?
Answer: Mold spores are everywhere - indoors and out. To grow, they need food, water or moisture and a certain temperature range. Many building materials and building contents are good mold food and molds grow fine in a wide range of temperatures, especially indoor temperatures. So the best way of minimizing indoor mold growth is to exclude water or moisture. The following informational flier provides advice to help you do this: Roof Leaks, Sewage Backflows, Utility Pipe Failures etc. (i.e., water infiltration into buildings). Here are some things to know should they occur (PDF format).
Question: Is a surgical mask, procedure mask, ear-loop mask or dust mask the same as a respirator?
Answer: No. Unless you find a marking on the mask itself, or on the box that states "NIOSH certified N95 respirator," the mask is limited to protecting patients from your cough droplets, and protecting you from large droplet splashes, large dusts or your fingers from landing in your mouth or nose. These masks neither fit as well, nor filter as well as N95 respirators. N95s are designed to both fit better and effectively filter out tiny aerosol particles - such tuberculosis, mold or lab animal allergens. Please note that medical N95s also are approved for surgery. The N in N95 means the respirator is Not resistant to oily particles such as mists from machine oils, oil-based spray paint, or pesticide spraying. For these oily aerosol hazards a R95 (Resistant to oil) or a P95 (oil Proof) respirator is needed - often in combination with an organic vapor cartridge. For more information please see the 3M Respirators and Surgical Mask Comparison (PDF format).