Every Little Bit Counts—Seven Tips for Disposing of Nanomaterial Wastes

Nanoscale applications are rapidly moving from the research lab to industrial and commercial settings. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), examples of workplaces that may use nanomaterials include chemical or pharmaceutical laboratories or plants, manufacturing facilities, medical offices or hospitals, and construction sites. In past Advisors, we explored nanomaterials hazards and ways to determine if your workplace has nanomaterials. We also offered steps to protect workers who handle nanomaterials. Today we present seven tips for disposing of nanomaterial waste.

Virtually all facilities produce waste, and for facilities that use nanomaterials, some fraction of that waste is considered hazardous. Currently, hazardous waste regulations do not specifically address nanoparticles. These seven tips can help you address nanowastes in your workplace.

Tip 1: Start by reducing waste.

The best way of avoiding the headache of having to dispose of waste is to minimize waste generation where possible. Plan work and research so as to minimize or eliminate the generation of nanowaste.

Tip 2: Be smart about containers.

Make sure nanowastes are compatible with the waste storage container. Label waste containers clearly to let workers know that they contain nanowaste.

Tip 3: Carefully track and document nanomaterial waste.

Identify the nanomaterials that are in the wastes on the waste disposal documents.

Tip 4: Be careful about hazardous waste.

If nanowastes are in a matrix—which itself is a hazardous waste—treat the nanowaste as a hazardous waste, but identify the nanomaterials. If the nanowaste is a characteristic hazardous waste, treat it as such.

 Tip 5: Do not dispose of solid nanowastes in regular trash.

Tip 6: Do not pour liquid nanowastes down drains.

Tip 7. Do not comingle nanowastes with nonnanowastes in an attempt to minimize nanowaste volume.

More and more workplaces are increasingly affected by the growing use of nanomaterials. Be sure to check Safety.BLR.com® for tips and tools for training workers on the multitude of hazards in the workplace.