What is a considered hazardous waste?

A waste with properties that make it dangerous or potentially harmful to human health or the environment and exhibits at least one of four characteristics: ignitability, corrosivity, reactivity, or toxicity.

How do I properly dispose of hazardous materials?

EHS oversees the management of hazardous substances and waste generated by facility maintenance, laboratory, and support operations. EHS has programs to help manage, store, collect, and dispose of hazardous chemical, biological, and radioactive materials. All hazardous waste should be managed in the following manner:

  • Collect hazardous wastes in a tight sealing container that is compatible with the hazardous materials it is intended to store.
  • Label the exterior of the container with the complete chemical name(s). Do not use abbreviations, trade names, chemical formulas, or chemical structures.
  • If broken glass or sharp objects are present, place them in a solid container such as a box or bottle. Sharps containers are available from EHS-Laboratory Safety for collection of needles or other sharp objects. Broken glass boxes are also available from EHS-Laboratory Safety.
  • Contact EHS-Laboratory Safety at labsafe@gmu.edu to schedule a pickup.

If you or your department generates hazardous waste on a routine basis, please contact EHS. EHS has additional programs, supplies, and support to help you properly manage hazardous waste.

What hazardous materials may be poured down the drain?

George Mason University does not permit any hazardous chemicals or waste to be poured down the drain without prior authorization from EHS-Laboratory Safety. There are some chemicals and hazardous materials that may be disposed of in the sanitary sewer system; however, EHS will review the material, quantity, and concentration of the material to ensure that disposal does not violate Federal, state, and local environmental regulations.

How can I properly dispose of aerosol cans?

Aerosol cans are considered a hazardous waste, even when the cans are empty, and therefore must be collected and managed as hazardous waste. Please place the cap back on aerosol can(s) and collect them in a rigid container. Contact EHS- Laboratory Safety at labsafe@gmu.edu to pick up and properly dispose of the aerosol cans.

Can I bring household hazardous materials to George Mason University for disposal?

Leftover household products that contain corrosive, toxic, ignitable (flammable), or reactive ingredients are considered to be “household hazardous waste” (HHW). Products such as oil-based paints (or other non-latex paints), cleaners, batteries, and pesticides contain potentially hazardous ingredients that require special care when you dispose of them. Most local jurisdictions have HHW days to collect household waste. Please contact your local solid waste authority (landfill) for additional information. You may not bring HHW to campus for disposal. Anyone found dumping or abandoning hazardous materials or solid waste on George Mason University property may be prosecuted.

What happens to hazardous waste once it is collected?

George Mason University utilizes the services of a licensed and permitted vendor for disposal of hazardous waste. The vendor collects, segregates, and packages hazardous waste according to Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations, then ships the waste to an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved disposal facility. Disposal methods range from incineration, waste water treatment, recovery/recycling, and stabilization. EHS encourages everyone to reduce the quantity of hazardous substances purchased to only those amounts necessary for their activities in an effort to reduce the volume of hazardous waste generated.

How do I ship hazardous materials? Do the regulations apply to very small quantities?

The Department of Transportation (DOT) regulates shipping of all hazardous materials, even small quantities. The regulations are quite complex, and require training and certification in order to ship hazardous materials. EHS staff coordinate and ship hazardous materials for university activities. Please contact EHS at least two business days in advance to coordinate hazardous materials or research material shipment. Please also refer to the Hazardous Materials Shipping and Receiving Guide.