It is pretty easy to find information about the actual hazards of a chemical in the SDS, but I have been struggling to sort out which classifications require that the compound be handled differently, especially when it comes to disposing of waste. I'd like to be able to determine what the restrictions on a chemical are by reading the SDS. For reference, I am in the USA. I know it varies state-by-state, but I am just looking for the "average" protocol, or else just the federal requirements.

For example, I calibrate/check water quality sensors. Some sensors are calibrated with NaCl, which obviously I can pour down the drain. For others I use less common/experimental stuff like p-Toluenesulfonic acid monohydrate as a stable substitute for quinine sulfate. In this case, the SDS clearly says not to pour it down the drain. What I am wondering about is how to interpret the myriad of different hazard classifications shown below, and which of them sets the legal requirement that it not be poured down the drain.

Chemical waste is not common where I work, which is why I need to be able to determine before I buy something whether I'll need to find a disposal service to handle it.

enter image description here enter image description here Regulatory classifications enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ The requirements are those of the organisation to whom you hand over your waste for disposal. $\endgroup$
    – Karl
    Mar 3, 2020 at 22:10
  • $\begingroup$ Karl, there are legal requirements set by the EPA (probably others) that require certain chemicals be disposed of differently. $\endgroup$
    – dotto
    Mar 3, 2020 at 22:19
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    $\begingroup$ I've seen too many SDSs that say 'dispose of in accordance to all federal, state, and local laws.' You can't expect some company to divine where everybody is and state how to dispose of stuff in every entity in the world. Work with your university/company ES&H folks. $\endgroup$
    – Jon Custer
    Mar 3, 2020 at 22:41
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    $\begingroup$ Please give some background to this question. You are in the US. What are you doing there. What kind of institution pays you, and pays for your chemicals. Etc. You cannot dispose of your chemical waste yourself. Whoever does it for you sets the rules. If you don´t trust them to know the laws and regulations, well, find someone else. $\endgroup$
    – Karl
    Mar 3, 2020 at 22:52
  • $\begingroup$ I think my intent is being misunderstood. I do not expect the SDS to provide disposal guidelines for the reasons you listed @JonCuster. As I stated in the question, I am just looking for the federal requirements. $\endgroup$
    – dotto
    Mar 4, 2020 at 17:12

1 Answer 1


You may find information from the US Federal government relating to this questions at the following sites: https://www.epa.gov/hwgenerators/steps-complying-regulations-hazardous-waste https://www.epa.gov/rcra/resource-conservation-and-recovery-act-rcra-regulations

Furthermore, your organization (theoretically) has a local waste discharge permit that it must adhere to as well. If chemical waste is not common where you work, you or the responsible party should review the permit requirements and the operations taking place.


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