From: David Roberts <droberts**At_Symbol_Here**DEPAUW.EDU>
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Biology Specimen Disposal
Date: Tue, 3 Jun 2014 07:58:42 -0400
Reply-To: DCHAS-L <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU>
Message-ID: CC2F59FC-E5EA-42AC-9378-79F79261FBA2**At_Symbol_Here**
In-Reply-To <000001cf7eae$710e8520$532b8f60$**At_Symbol_Here**>

My 0.02 here.  Biology departments are typically not on the has waste plan in terms of routine monitoring and disposal of specimens.  I've been trying to catch ours up for a while now - finally getting it under control.  We have handled all of ours as hazardous.  I have 2 basic streams, one with formalin (<10%) solution only (that I get from pouring the solution off in to a 5 gallon liquid pail), and one that is a mix of formalin and samples.  Samples range from sheep brains (psychology dept) to old specimens from biology.  Any bio sample goes here (as many of ours are also unmarked and so we don't know what they were originally preserved in).  The brains and specimen also go into a 5 gallon bucket.  That's a convenient size for us - but of course you could save some money by doing 30 gallon buckets if that is possible for you (and it's cheaper than lab packing individual samples).  Jars can be rinsed (add that to the mix - keeps the formalin < 10%), lids thrown out, and jars either washed/reused or disposed of with lab glass trash.  

If the bio dept has had these since the 40's, that to me means that they haven't been properly managing them since around the 80's or so.  Really they should get on a plan to dispose of small handfuls of these annually (just makes sense - though I understand that they don't go "bad", some do become unused and just need to be disposed of).  Many are probably still OK - so I would ask them to take the ones that are totally unusable and dispose of those first - and try to do this over a 3 year window.  Easier to manage cost wise that way - and hopefully they are willing to do that.

Keep proper disposal logs and be sure to maintain your generator status.  If you need to exceed your generator status, you can probably ask for a 1 time exemption - but if you do that - I'd just get rid of all of them (meaning you need the money for that).  

Hope that helps.  


On Jun 2, 2014, at 6:03 PM, George C. Walton <g.c.walton**At_Symbol_Here**REACTIVES.COM> wrote:

I think they are all going to be regulated in some way - if not formaldehyde or formalin solution, then mercury salts for dry mounts or taxidermy specimens.
George C. Walton, CHMM
Reactives Management Corporation
1025 Executive Blvd., Suite 101
Chesapeake, VA  23320
(757) 436-1033
From: DCHAS-L Discussion List [mailto:dchas-l**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU] On Behalf Of Laura Damon
Sent: Monday, June 2, 2014 5:01 PM
Subject: [DCHAS-L] Biology Specimen Disposal
Hi All,
We are cleaning out and remodeling our biology lab and have LOTS of preserved specimens, some from as far back as the  1940's.  The biology folks want to discard these.  My question…is there any way to dispose of them other than through a hazardous waste facility?  I assume most are stored in formaldehyde solution.
Thanks in advance for your wisdom and replies.
Laura L Damon
Coordinator of Instructional Safety and Chemical Hygiene
Flathead Valley Community College
Kalispell, MT

Previous post   |  Top of Page   |   Next post

The content of this page reflects the personal opinion(s) of the author(s) only, not the American Chemical Society, ILPI, Safety Emporium, or any other party. Use of any information on this page is at the reader's own risk. Unauthorized reproduction of these materials is prohibited. Send questions/comments about the archive to
The maintenance and hosting of the DCHAS-L archive is provided through the generous support of Safety Emporium.