Consider Before You Pour
Consult Guide About Drain Disposal
NIH policy requires that all waste be reduced to the greatest extent feasible to limit potential negative environmental impact. The objective is to dispose of chemicals via waste management services and to prevent hazardous chemical discharges to the sanitary sewer.
With advances in wastewater treatment technology, some people have become overly confident in publicly owned treatment works capabilities to clean the waste released into the sanitary sewers. Despite tech advances, there remain chemicals that may interfere with the treatment process or that pass through the system entirely untreated. This is an ever-growing concern as newly discovered chemicals in the environment (and/or water supply) defy treatment standards. (Read details at https://www.safewater.org/fact-sheets-1/2017/1/23/emerging-contaminants.)
The Division of Environmental Protection in NIH’s Office of Research Facilities, in coordination with scientific directors and NIEHS leadership, has developed a Drain Discharge Guide to inform staff which chemicals can be disposed of through the sanitary sewer.
Laboratory workers should consult the guide, online at https://nems.nih.gov/Documents/NIH_Drain_Discharge_Guide.pdf, before disposing of any lab chemicals down the drain. Only chemicals approved by DEP may be disposed of down the drain. Surplus solid chemicals must be disposed of through NIH chemical waste services and not discharged down the sanitary sewer.
If you are unsure about a chemical, call DEP, (301) 496-7990 for further guidance. Chemicals not on the approved drain disposal list may be considered via application, https://spapps.od.nih.gov/sites/DEPAuthorizations/SitePages/Home.aspx. Direct questions about the guide to DEP.