Acids and Bases (Corrosives)

Concerns about environmental impact, bans on landfill disposal of hazardous waste, and limited access to sewer disposal have encouraged the development of laboratory hazardous waste reduction strategies.

The small-scale treatment and deactivation of products and by-products as part of the experiment plan is one approach that can be used by researchers to address this problem at the laboratory level. In-lab waste chemical treatment reduces transport and handling risks, and reduces the cost of collecting, storing and disposing of chemical wastes.

In most laboratories, both small amounts of waste acids and waste bases are generated. Collect them separately and neutralize one with the other rendering the material non-hazardous. If additional acid or base is required, sulfuric or hydrochloric acid and sodium or magnesium hydroxide, respectively, can be used. If the acid or base is highly concentrated, first dilute it to a concentration below 10%. Click here for more detailed procedures.

Non-toxic neutralization products may be disposed of through the sanitary sewer but must comply with the City of Kelowna Bylaws, in particular Consolidated Sanitary Sewer/Storm Drain Regulation Bylaw No. 6618-90. Toxic products such as ones containing heavy metals and toxic ions such as cyanide and sulphide, or large volumes of concentrated corrosive materials, should be disposed of according to approved protocols through Risk Management Services.

Prevent Sanitary Wastewater Contamination

  • Make sure containers of liquids are not leaking.
  • Make sure laboratory equipment and experiments that create wastewater do not leak.
  • Make sure liquids are stored in secondary containment: trays, sealable containers or segregated (dammed) areas, with no floor drain so that spills are contained.
  • Do not dispose of any waste into a storm sewer
  • If a laboratory process is connected to a water supply, do not connect it to a sewer or use contaminated or toxic liquids unless a backflow prevention device is included.
  • Control and contain spill to prevent any hazardous materials from entering the sewer

If you have any questions regarding disposal or to vet small scale neutralization procedures, contact Risk Management Services at riskmanagement.ok@ubc.ca.