As regards old containers sitting on the shelf, I have heard many 'opinions' that regulators will offer.
If the bottle is expired, is there a good reason for keeping it? Is it actively in use for research or instructional purposes?
If the bottle looks old and you cannot document its regular circulation, then some instectors use the 'white glove' test. If I can wipe dust off the top of the container, it's probably not being used and hasn't been for some time. Now the question becomes, Why are you keeping it? RCRA has a term for this: speculative accumulation.
See article below. While spec.accum. specifically addresses certain hazardous wastes which could be recycled, it has also been applied to the situation of holding on to lots of old chemicals with no stated present or future purposes other than 'just in case we may need it some day'.
So, have a real good idea what is being actively used in your teaching labs. Get rid of anything you can justify will not be used within the next year, expired or not. This is an iterative process as profs will put up resistance to throwing away 'perfectly good' reagents from the 1950's. Weed regularly and a little at a time.
Speculative accumulation happens.
Keeping in mind that the term "speculative accumulation" is defined only for the purpose of determining if a material is a solid waste [40 CFR 261.2(c)], the EPA’s definition, at section 40 CFR 261.1(c)(8) starts simply with "A material is ‘accumulated speculatively’ if it is accumulated before being recycled."
But if we continue reading, we find that you may claim your recycling as legitimate, and your accumulation as NOT speculative, if you meet two conditions:
Remember to document everything! In any enforcement action, the burden of proof is on the generator to show that the waste is excluded and being legitimately recycled. [40 CFR 261.2(f)] That is, it is up to you to prove to the regulators that the material is not being speculatively accumulated.
On the other hand, if you stockpile hazardous secondary material, make no arrangements to recycle it, all the while claiming that it will be recycled later, the EPA will ask you to prove that the recycling is legitimate, feasible, and actually happening. If you cannot do this, then you are "accumulating speculatively." What happens next is, the waste will be reclassified as solid, and possibly as hazardous, waste, and you will get to know your local agency very well.
As always, state regulations may vary. Not every authorized state program permits every recycling relief, and your state may have particular standards for documenting your recycling activities.
-- Jeffrey A. Your, M.B.A.,C.S.M.M. Science Buyer; Central Scientific Stores and Laboratory Support Services John Carroll University 20700 North Park Blvd. University Hts, Ohio 44118-4578 216.397.4244 vox 216.397.1803 fax 216.496.7594 cell
Date: Thu, 17 Feb 2011 09:58:23 -0800
From: Teresa Arnold <tarnold**At_Symbol_Here**georgefox.edu>
Subject: [NAOSMM] Expiration dates of chemicals/regulations
To: dchas-l <dchas-l**At_Symbol_Here**list.uvm.edu>, NAOSMM <naosmm**At_Symbol_Here**mailman.rice.edu>
I had a question come to me from a High School, who is being dinged by a regulatory person. I don't have a definitive answer/source. Can you help?
question I have is the idea of "shelf life". As a chemist, I know that some
chemicals degrade over time. But the ones that create a hazard upon degrading
are few and far between. What are the rules about shelf life particularly for
inherited old chemicals? What actions are required and what are merely
George Fox University
Biology-Chemistry Lab Coordinator
414 N. Meridian St. #6144
Newberg, OR 97132
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