Environmental Programs FAQ
  1. I just became a lab manager, is there any training I need to take or anything I need to do?

    As a new lab manager, you should review the Duke University Chemical Waste Policy and Laboratory Chemical Waste Management Practice and determine if you are compliant with the stated requirements.  If you have any questions or need assistance, contact OESO Environmental Programs at 684-2794.

  2. What is the new Laboratory Chemical Waste Management Practice and where can I get a copy?

    This Practice defines procedures for generators of chemical wastes including container labeling and marking, container management, and proper laboratory storage procedures.  Specific roles and responsibilities for Principal Investigators (PIs), Laboratory Waste Managers, and OESO personnel are also defined.  A copy of the practice can be found here .

  3. How do I get rid of my lab's chemical waste/setup a generator ID?

    Duke University's OESO provides chemical waste pick-up/disposal service for all labs on the Duke University/Medical Center Campus. Register on-line through the Waste Pickup Request System. OESO staff collects chemical wastes Monday through Friday between the hours of 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

  4. Which chemicals do you pick up and which can I dispose of myself?

    We will pick up or collect most waste chemicals from laboratories, operations, maintenance or other sources.  Current regulations limit the direct disposal or treatment in a lab of chemical wastes generated in laboratories or other locations and we strongly discourage treatment or sink disposal of any waste chemicals.  Once we collect your waste chemicals and return to our location, we can determine if they are regulated and subject to disposal restrictions and, if not, properly dispose of them. 

  5. What do I do with my Ethidium Bromide Waste?

    While Ethidium Bromide is not a regulated hazardous waste, it is a toxic waste that OESO EP will pick up with your other chemical waste.  OESO EP recommends that laboratories using Ethidium Bromide evaluate the use of Sybr Safe , a less toxic gel stain. Click here to view the Ethidium Bromide Disposal Guidelines.

  6. Do we submit aerosol cans as a chemical waste?

    OESO EP does collect aerosol cans and they may be submitted as a chemical waste. Aerosol Can Disposal.

  7. What do we do with our medical waste?

    OESO EP does not collect medical waste.  Contact Biological Safety at 684-8822 to find out how to properly dispose of medical waste from your lab. 

  8. What do we do with an empty bottle that once had a chemical in it?

    Empty bottles can be triple rinsed and thrown in the regular trash.  You may also place them in your labs glass recycling if you so choose.

  9. Does your office pickup broken glass boxes?

    OESO EP does not pickup broken glass boxes. Environmental Services will pick these up as long as there is no biological material present on the glass. 

  10. What do we do with our old cylinders and compressed gases?

    The first step is to look and see if there is a manufacture name and number.  If you find that information, contact them and see if they will take it back.  If the manufacture will not accept it back, submit a chemical waste pickup request and OESO EP will collect it.

  11. Our lab uses the 5 gallon red cans that your office provides.  Are there any instructions for using them?

    Yes, there are instructions for using the red cans.  A guide can be found here.

  12. Our lab is planning to generate radioactive waste, how will we dispose of it?

    Duke University's OESO also provides a radioactive waste pick-up/disposal service for all labs on the Duke University/Medical Center Campus. Register on-line through the Waste Pickup Request System. OESO staff collects radioactive wastes Monday through Friday between the hours of 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

  13. I read the Laboratory Chemical Waste Management Practice and I do not understand secondary containment.  Can you explain?

    Secondary containment is a bin/tray/vessel, etc. that will contain a spill from a waste container.  The bin/tray/vessel must be large enough to hold the entire contents of the "full" waste container in the event of a catastrophic release.  The secondary containment bin/tray/vessel must also be compatible with the stored waste.

  14. I need a container that is compatible with my waste, how do I find one?

    In most cases, it's safe to use the original product container if you have it and if the volume of waste is not too great.  If you no longer have the original container, refer to the product Material Safety Data Sheet or MSDS for compatibility information.

  15. The chemical waste labels from your office don't fit on our waste bottles.  Do we have to use them?

    First, any container holding a waste chemical must be properly labeled with the name of the substance preceded by the word "Waste" and the date the waste chemical was placed into that container.  If the waste labels that we sent to you won't fit the container, you still have the obligation to properly label that container.  If it's a small container and the label is just too big, you can place that container into larger outer container, close the outer container and place the label on it.  If that doesn't work, you can make your own labels as long as they contain the information mentioned above. 

  16. How long can I keep chemical waste in my laboratory?

    In accordance with the Laboratory Chemical Waste Practice, all chemical waste must be removed from the laboratory within 30 days of being filled or designated as a waste.

  17. We found an old bottle in our lab that isn't labeled, what should we do with it?

    First, the bottle should be labeled with the words "Waste Unknown Chemical" as well as the date that it is discovered in your lab.  You should then submit the bottle to OESO for identification and disposal as soon as possible, but no later than thirty days after discovery.  Most importantly, you should take steps (e.g., implement container labeling practices, conduct frequent chemical inventory assessments) to prevent the future generation of unknown chemicals.

  18. What should we do if we have a chemical spill in the lab?

    The clean up of chemical spill should only be done by experienced and knowledgeable personnel.  Spill kits with instructions, absorbents, reactants, and protective equipment should be available to clean up minor spills.  A minor chemical spill is one that the staff is capable of handling safely without the assistance of emergency personnel.  All other spills are considered major and 911 should be contacted to initiate an emergency response. For more information click here.

  19. We changed our process and have left over chemicals that are still good.  Can I give them to another lab?

    If the chemicals are still useful, you can give to another lab if they also will have a use for such chemicals.  However, Environmental Programs maintains a Surplus Chemical Exchange program.  Just contact us and we will collect the chemical and if the container is unopened and the chemical is unused, we will put it into our inventory and make it available to any other lab.  You can contact us at envprograms@mc.duke.edu for help.  Click onto the Surplus Chemical Exchange button and you can view the inventory of chemicals in the exchange and instructions on how to submit chemicals.

  20. I have mercury thermometers in my lab.  How do I get rid/exchange them?

    OESO EP initiated a thermometer exchange program several years ago. Need more information click here.

     If you want to dispose of mercury thermometers, label as a Waste Mercury Thermometer, date, and submit them as chemical waste.

  21. We use a lot of batteries in our work area, is there somewhere we can recycle them?

    Yes, there are battery drop boxes located around campus for small batteries (less than 2 lbs.) and cell phones. For batteries that are larger than 2 lbs., Duke University's OESO manages them as chemical waste and therefore requires labs to follow the same procedure for requesting a battery pick-up as for a chemical waste pick-up.  To find drop box locations and more information visit our Battery Recycling webpage.

  22. Our office/laboratory is replacing our outdated computers, how do we get rid of them?

    All old or unwanted equipment that contain Cathode Ray Tubes (i.e. computer monitors, television, etc.) must be submitted to Duke Procurement for inclusion in the CRT Recycling Program.

  23. Other than waste collection, what services does Environmental Programs offer?

    Among the services and programs that Environmental Programs manages, one of the most important is environmental regulatory compliance.  Environmental Programs stays abreast of a number of regulatory requirements to promote compliance in laboratories and other organizations.  A good example is the new laboratory chemical waste management practice that is being implemented across the campus.  Federal and State regulations stipulate certain handling, storage, and labeling requirements for chemical wastes stored in labs or other locations.  Environmental Programs has initiated an aggressive program to educate laboratory personnel about the requirements and assist in implementing the practice to assure compliance.  Should you have any concerns about compliance, please contact our office.