From: ACTSNYC**At_Symbol_Here**CS.COM
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Gram Staining information
Date: April 8, 2012 12:53:02 PM EDT
Reply-To: DCHAS-L <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU>
Message-ID: <43566.76e6cb41.3cb31c6e**At_Symbol_Here**>

Oh cool, Barry.   Bleach it so the color is gone and it is reduced to its precursors.  Just find out what those degradation products are first.  

I've been playing with this idea since the European Union instituted their Dye Directive in 1992.  Instead of requiring toxicity testing for well over 2000 commercially available dyes and pigments, the EU has a common sense strategy.  The Directive lists 22 established carcinogens.  Any colorant that breaks down or metabolizes to release any of those 22 is itself a carcinogen--no testing required.  And that colorant is banned for any application that results in skin contact such as clothing, bedding, glasses frames, etc.

Here in the US, there is no such prohibition.  And of course, the Dye Directive does not apply to your gram staining dye's use.  But the principle is one we ought to look at for environmental strategizing for all kinds of complex organic chemicals.

I was reading EPA's budget over the weekend.  It looks to me like they have decided to address their limited funds by retreating from those issues that would really eat up their budget.  For example, there will be no updating of the Purple Book or development of better regulations for asbestos remediation.  And their will be very limited funds allocated for dealing with PCBs in the schools from leaking ballasts, caulk. and other sources.  This decision was made despite significant numbers of studies, most notably in NYC and Boston, that EPA's limits for airborne PCBs are exceeded.  This policy causes casualties in the long term.

And for decades, EPA has known that most of the lead paint waste from abatement projects also contains PCBs well above their stated limits for solid waste.  But they have chosen not to lift the lid on this Pandora's box.  In a veiled way, the EPA policies are saying, "Let's get rid of all of this stuff as fast and cheaply as we can and deal with the landfill PCB issues later."  Of course, there will be more long-term casualties especially among the workers.

So also, EPA will continue to do nothing about the mega tons of complex organic chemicals that enter the waste stream from many industries of which the dyes are only a part. The only time EPA responds to degradation product issues is when activist groups find a particular chemical cause as they did with the phosphate detergents and now with a number of detergents that break down to release estrogenically active chemicals.  For example, it is the activists that are sponsoring bills that would regulate the nonyl phenol ethoxylates for this reason.  Note: many NPEs are already banned in the EU.

I've often thought that a group like DCHAS with chemists and toxicologists working together would be able to develop some really practical guidelines for responsible disposal of complex organic chemicals like dyes and pigments instead of waiting until EPA is forced by public pressure into regulating them. 

So now, Barry, with all of this in mind, I can answer your question intelligently.  Yes, adding bleach and neutralizing is "OK," not because it is good for the environment, but because EPA has no regulations on the kind of waste products this would generate and provided they don't consider your adding bleach as "treatment."

Aren't you sorry you asked?  I'll step down off this detergent container, now.


In a message dated 4/8/2012 10:27:41 AM Eastern Daylight Time, fermbarreta**At_Symbol_Here**SAU.EDU writes:

Thank you for asking your question, Blanca.  I, too, am interested in hearing replies to it.  For these types of solutions I have been advised to add bleach to decolorize, and adjust pH to (5 - 8) if necessary, then down the drain.  Is this okay??

Barry Ferm

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