Recycling and Waste Management

Hazardous Chemical Waste

Rule of thumb: If the waste material has a Safety Data Sheet, and you would be reluctant to eat, drink, or wear the material, it is probably a hazardous waste per California regulations.

Notice: Disposal of hazardous waste using sinks, intentional evaporation, or as regular trash is against the law. Campus laboratories must abide by strict state and federal waste disposal requirements. You may be held liable for violations of applicable laws.

For more information, contact the EH&S Environmental Management Facility, (858) 534-2753.


Liquid/Powder → EH&S Hazardous Waste Pick-up

Acrylamide in its liquid and powder form is highly toxic by inhalation, skin absorption, and ingestion. It is a reproductive toxin and a carcinogen. Extra precautions must be taken when handling liquid and powder acrylamide. All waste must be disposed of via EH&S as hazardous waste.

Uncontaminated Gel → Regular Lab Trash

Once acrylamide has been completely polymerized into a gel, it no longer poses a health threat and can safely be disposed of in the regular lab trash (as long as it has not come in contact with a hazardous material).

Contaminated Gel → EH&S Hazardous Waste Pick-up

Once the gel has been exposed to a hazardous chemical, e.g. loaded with a sample containing Ethidium Bromide or run in a buffer that must be collected as hazardous waste, then the gel must be disposed of as hazardous waste through EH&S. This is because of the chemical contamination it was exposed to, not because the gel itself is hazardous. Fill out the hazardous waste tag accordingly.

Ethidium Bromide

Ethidium bromide (EtBr) requires extra precautions during use and disposal because of its highly toxic and mutagenic properties.

All EtBr contaminated materials need to be disposed of as hazardous waste via EH&S. All waste containers must have a hazardous waste tag attached to them before hazardous waste is added. 

There are three separate waste streams for EtBr:

  1. Liquid waste — liquid waste including all running buffers needs to be collected in a rigid, leak proof container such as a carboy. Always place the carboy in a secondary container and keep the lid closed unless you are adding contaminated liquids.
  2. Solid waste — collect all gloves, kimwipes, bench paper, tips, empty EtBr bottles, etc that came in contact with EtBr in a rigid container. Line the container with two clear plastic bags. The container must have a lid and the lid must always be securely tightened except when adding waste.
  3. Gel waste — collect all gels contaminated with EtBr in a rigid, leak proof container. The container must have a lid and must be lined with two clear plastic bags. The lid must always be securely fastened and only be opened when adding new gel waste.

More information on handling Ethidium Bromide

Empty Hazardous Material Containers

Disposal of chemical containers depend on its CONTENT, the MATERIAL it is made of and container SIZE. 

Remember: Never drain or rinse a chemical container before disposal. Containers must be empty. Always deface labeling and make sure the container is closed with the lid on.

Hazardous Material Flow Diagram

Download a PDF of the Hazardous Material Container Disposal Flowchart.

Definition of “Empty Container”

  • LIQUID – turn container upside down and nothing comes out
  • AEROSOL – nothing comes out when release mechanism is pushed
  • GAS CYLINDER – gauge reads cylinder is at atmospheric pressure

If you need to talk to a hazardous waste specialist, contact EH&S's Environmental Management Facility at (858) 534-2753.

Questions or concerns? Contact your Division Safety Officer at or (858)53 4-5017.