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Oregon State University

Office and Shop Waste

Office and shop settings typically utilize products that are found also in homes. Environmental regulations allow homeowners greater leeway in disposal of materials than in the workplace environment. What people are used to legally throwing away at home may not be legal to do at work.

AEROSOL CANS All aerosol cans are considered hazardous waste until completely empty. The Facilities Services department has purchased several devices to open aerosol cans and drain contents, except for cans with pesticides or other highly toxic materials, which should be treated as with other hazardous wastes. Departments which produce a lot of aerosol cans are encouraged to purchase their own opening device, in consultation with EH&S.

OFFICE PRODUCTS In the past, correction fluid ("white-out"), duplicating fluid, glues, and various thinners for these products were extensively used in offices. With the advent of word processing systems and photocopiers, the use of the these solvent- based products has decreased. Containers that are not completely dry are typically hazardous waste when disposed. In addition, toner fluid (for copiers and printers) may be hazardous, depending on constituents. Inks used for stamp pads or certain pens are typically hazardous.

CLEANING PRODUCTS Many cleaning products have a high or low enough pH to qualify as hazardous waste. Any cleaning product which smells of ammonia is likely to be above the pH allowed for sewer disposal under Corvallis drain disposal regulations. This does not affect the use of these products as intended, but should be kept in mind when getting rid of old or outdated stocks. In addition, many cleaning products contain solvents which may be classified as hazardous waste when disposed.

RAGS which are to be used for solvent-based purposes should be purchased, when possible, through a laundering service which includes laundering the rags. If this is not feasible, rags with flammable solvents or hazardous constituents should be collected in flammable rag containers and disposed as hazardous waste.

PARTS WASHERS typically contain flammable or halogenated solvents. Whenever possible, users should set up a recovery system to reclaim the solvent, or arrange for a commercial service which does this. Manufacturers often market replacement solvents which they claim are "non-toxic" or "biodegradable". Their use is encouraged, especially if it results in less chlorinated solvent use. Users must keep in mind, however, that the material they are cleaning may add contaminants to the solvent, such as metals or grease, which make it a hazardous waste.

PAINT is typically hazardous before drying. The use of lead and mercury in paint has largely disappeared, but the solvents used in both latex and oil-based paints are usually hazardous. Excess unopened or scarcely used paint in good condition should be offered as surplus property. Paint that has been opened should only be thrown away if it is completely dry. If not dry, it can be painted on something or disposed as hazardous waste. There are methods to recycle latex paint to groups that can use it. Contact EH&S for details.