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Lab Packs: Explained in Simple Terms

May 16, 2014

Because handling hazardous waste is such a delicate business, it’s essential that you educate yourself about both the options you have and the risks you face.  And of the many potential areas of concern, lab chemical disposal should feature high on the list.

Let’s address the big questions concerning lab chemicals: what qualifies as a lab, what sort of chemicals can become problematic, and what is the best way to deal with them?

The word “laboratory” (or “lab”) is customarily used to describe a facility that conducts experimental or routine testing. Most people relate labs with activities involving chemicals.

While there are some large lab organizations, such as research and development functions in corporations and government, most labs are small businesses or small entities within larger organizations. These labs may be in warehouses, schools, universities, businesses, medical facilities, hospitals, maintenance departments, or a stand-alone operation.

If you or your business operates such a lab, it is likely that you use small containers (anywhere from five to ten gallons) of chemicals in trade or practice – and keeping these containers of chemicals on-site means you will almost certainly end up in need of recurrent housecleaning.  Cannisters of these chemicals (including solvents, reagents, acids, paints, and cleaners) will routinely accumulate that are either mislabeled, contaminated, out-of-date, partially used, leaking, or no longer needed.  It’s just business as usual.

(See also: 5 Common Risks Of Hazardous Materials Storage)

Disposal is another story.  It might seem costly and daunting, as the contents of these containers can’t be simply thrown away or poured down the drain. Doing so would be unsafe and subject to criminal penalty.

Some chemicals are considered hazardous after-use, like solvents or cleaning solutions, while other chemicals can become unstable and even explosive. Old compressed gas lecture bottles have high potential for danger if their valves have rusted, and picric acid is a good example of a chemical that becomes explosive with age (and can eventually explode with even the most minimal friction).

Sometimes trying to combine leftover chemicals can have equally disastrous results.  Even if you didn’t blow yourself or your business sky-high in the process, you would still find yourself with a resultant mixture even more expensive and complicated to dispose of.

Thankfully, a both cost-effective and practical solution comes in the form of lab packs.  A “lab pack” is just cryptic terminology for a container, usually a 55-gallon fiber or steel drum, that is filled with assorted small quantity canisters of compatible laboratory chemicals, segregated into groups such as oxidizers, acids, and flammables.

The containers are typically packed in vermiculite or another suitable absorbent, labeled and prepared for shipping. The wastes are then consolidated even further and shipped for the best possible disposal action.  This includes incineration, recycling, landfill, treatment, fuels blending, and neutralization or stabilization.

Get Your Lab Packs and Lab Pack Disposal Services from Hazardous Waste Experts

It’s important to remember that the process of lab packing has very explicit rules and exceptions, and should be performed only by informed and experienced individuals. Providing you with expert information is just one of the ways Hazardous Waste Experts can help you.  We can provide you with lab packs, lab pack disposal services, and help you better understand all the options you have.

Call Hazardous Waste Experts today at 800-936-2311 for a free consultation and price quote or click here to email us.

Photo Credit: Matteo Bagnoli via Compfight cc

Disposal of hazardous waste doesn’t have to be painful.