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School Chemicals and Disposal
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Each year schools, colleges and universities find themselves needing to take care of surplus, unnecessary, unknown, or outdated chemicals. These chemicals often originate in chemistry labs, but can also originate from swimming pool operations, vocational education classes, and maintenance activities. The following are guidelines for the disposal of such chemicals and helpful hints to avoid the need for disposal in the future.


The school must prepare an inventory of all chemicals to be disposed before disposal options can be determined. The inventory need not be detailed but must include chemical names and the approximate weight of each chemical. Make sure your weights are all noted in kilograms or pounds, use the correct equation to calculate conversions from one to the other, and do not mix units as you total up your amounts. To avoid confusion we have listed both the English and Metric units associated with each regulation throughout this Guidance Document; use which ever system you are comfortable with and stick with it. The quantity and type of waste will determine which requirements in Title 128 – Nebraska Hazardous Waste Regulations are applicable to the school. ACUTE HAZARDOUS WASTE

Consult the list of acute (P-List) hazardous wastes in Title 128, Chapter 3, §015. If your inventory contains more than 1 kg (2.2 lbs) of chemicals on this list, full large quantity generator hazardous waste regulation applies to this waste. Contact the Waste Management Section at (402) 471-4210 or Hazardous Waste Compliance Assistance at (402) 471-8308. The remainder of this fact sheet applies to wastes that are not on the list of acute hazardous waste chemicals. Note: In order for a material to be an acute (P-List) hazardous waste, it must be the sole active ingredient and be unused. The material remaining in an opened container would normally be considered to be “unused.” For example: a ¼ full bottle of carbon disulfide is a P022 acute hazardous waste.


It is not uncommon to come across radioactive source material when cleaning out an old chemistry or physics laboratory. Radioactive sources were common teaching tools following the nuclear boom of the 1950’s and are sometimes left forgotten in the depths of the storeroom after curriculum and staff changes. NDEQ treats such source material as mixed waste (both hazardous and radioactive) but may allow small quantities to be disposed of in a MSW Landfill with department assistance and landfill permission. The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services operates a Radioactive Materials Program to help license and educate facilities on the proper handling, storage and disposal of radioactive material in Nebraska.

Geiger counters or scintillation counters among your equipment are strong indicators that radioactive source material may have been used in the classroom in the past. If you find radiation equipment in your class supply storage area an effort should be made to search for unknown radioactive sources. Not all radioactive materials are labeled to indicate they are radioactive, especially if they were obtained in the distant past. Look for materials containing Uranium, Thorium, and Radium to name a few; minerals like Urananite, Sphalerite and Monazite are some minerals with naturally occurring radiation. Unsealed sources can pose a serious health hazards because they are often powdered and easily ingested or inhaled. If you come across radioactive materials that need to be disposed of contact the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services RAD program at (402) 471-2079, or contact the NDEQ at (402) 471-4210.

  1. NDEQ does not endorse any public or private website.
  2. Titles can be found on the NDEQ website under Laws & Regulations, or a copy can be obtained by contacting the NDEQ Waste Management Section.
  3. Documents can be found on the NDEQ website under Publications & Forms, or a copy can be obtained by contacting the NDEQ Waste Management Section.
ATTACHMENT: Hazardous Chemicals

Chemicals that usually have a greater hazard than usefulness.
(Not all-inclusive)

AcrylonitrileDichlorobenzeneNicotineSodium nitrate
Aluminum Chloride
Ammonium chromate
DichloroethaneOsmium tetroxideSodium sulfide
AnilineDimethylanilineOxygen, tankSodium thiocyanate
Aniline hydrochloridep-DioxaneParis greenStannic chloride
AnthraceneEthersPhenolStearic acid
Antimony trichlorideEthylene dichloridePhosphorus, red, white, yellowStrontium
ArsenicEthylene oxidePhosphorus pentoxideStrontium nitrate
Arsenic chlorideGunpowderPhthalic anhydrideSudan IV
Arsenic pentoxideHexachlorophenePicric acidSulfuric acid, fuming
Arsenic trioxideHydrobromic acidPotassium, metalTalc*
AsbestosHydrofluoric acidPotassium oxalateTannic acid
AscariteHydrogenPotassium sulfideTetrabromoethane
BenzeneHydriodic acidPyrideneThermite & compounds
Benzoyl peroxideIndigo carminePyrogallic acidThioacetamide
Calcium cyanideLead arsenateSaccharinThiourea
Calcium fluorideLead carbonateSeleniumTitanium trichloride
Carbon tetrachlorideLead (IV) chromateSilver cyanideo-Toluidine
ChlorineLithium (metal)Silver oxideUranium
CamphorLithium nitrateSilver nitrateUranyl acetate
Chloral hydrateMagnesium powderSodium arsenateUranyl nitrate
ChloretoneMercurySodium arseniteUrethane
ChloroformMercuric chlorideSodium azideVinylite
ChloropromazineMesityleneSodium chromateWood’s metal
ChromiumMethyl iodineSodium cyanide
Chromium oxideMethyl methacrylateSodium dichloroindophenol
Chromium potassium sulfateMethyl orange*Sodium dichromate
Chromium trioxideMethyl red*Sodium, metal
ColchicineNickel, metal, nitrate, & oxideSodium ferrocyanide
*Suggested alternatives: Methyl orange & Methyl red >>> Bromophenol blue & Bromothymol blueTalc >>> Starch talc
Reference: Dr. John Moody, Indiana University Southeast, derived from

Produced by: Waste Management Section, Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality, P.O. Box 98922, Lincoln, NE 68509-8922; phone (402) 471-4210. To view this, and other information related to our agency, visit our web site at This material is intended for guidance purposes only. It is not meant to substitute for the regulations found in Title 128 – Nebraska Hazardous Waste Regulations or other applicable Nebraska environmental regulations.


Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality
1200 "N" Street, Suite 400
P.O. Box 98922
Lincoln, Nebraska 68509
(402) 471-2186