Osmium tetroxide is sold pretty much exclusively in sealed vials, either as crystals or in a 4% solution. It is primarily used as a fixative for electronic microscopy, in solution. While extremely toxic (by ingestion, inhalation, or skin contact), unused containers should not pose a storage problem as long as they are secured. Store in a cool, dry, ventilated area. It should always be used in a hood! Disposal is interesting, in that it is not theoretically regulated as a hazardous waste (you could look it up!). The osmium itself is quite valuable and rare (only about 1000 lbs are produced annually, worldwide); it can be recycled to various suppliers and refiners. However, once used, you need to know which buffers it was used with. There are six possible buffers for EM use; the two most common are phosphates and cacodylic acid. The phosphate buffer addition doesn’t make it hazardous, but cacodylic acid is an arsenic compound and the resulting solution would be regulated as D005 EPA waste type. Many clinical facilities are not aware of this and don’t properly label and describe for disposal. Check to see which buffers are being used by your EM lab.
Once facility that will accept osmium for recycling is Colonial Metals, in Elkton, MD. You need a decent quantity, however, to make it amenable for recycling.
Hope this helps….
WC Environmental, LLC
1085C Andrew Drive
West Chester, PA 19380
610-696-9220x12/ fax 610-344-7519
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From: DCHAS-L Discussion List [mailto:DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU] On Behalf Of List Moderator
Sent: Friday, October 30, 2009 12:02 PM
Subject: [DCHAS-L] Osmium tetroxide storage, use and disposal
From: "Rengarajan, Kalpana" <krengar**At_Symbol_Here**emory.edu>
Date: October 30, 2009 11:57:32 AM EDT
Subject: Osmium tetroxide storage, use and disposal
Does anyone have specific guidelines on Osmium tetroxide storage, use
and disposal. Can you please share?
Kalpana Rengarajan, Ph.D., RBP
Assistant Director, Biosafety Officer
Environmental Health and Safety Office
1762 Clifton Road NE, Suite 1200
Atlanta, GA 30322
FAX: (404) 727-9778
You may visit www.ehso.emory.edu for updated information.
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