A Case Study on Methods for Disposal of Hazardous Chemicals and Laboratory Wastes Based on Life-Cycle Thinking Approach
Manisha Basu1, Tarun Kumar2
1M. S. Ramaiah Institute of Technology, Bangalore, India; 2Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India
This paper addresses the various hazardous wastes generated in the biochemical laboratories and their improper disposal causing negative impacts on our environment. The wastes generated from the laboratories can be classified into following ways: Biological wastes, biohazardous wastes, cytotoxic wastes, laboratory glassware, hazardous chemicals and sharp wastes that may be contaminated with radioactive, toxic and infectious materials. The majority of the laboratories of various educational and research institutions often do not follow suggested guidelines for the safe disposal of these hazardous wastes. Most of the chemicals after use are disposed of by running them down the sink; while the other wastes may find their way in garbage bins without segregation. Chemicals, when run down the drain, can pass through the septic pits and main sewage system without being treated. These chemicals can further react with organic materials and add more toxic substances to the water. Most sewage treatment plants are ill-equipped in removing toxic materials causing the death of the helpful bacteria in the waste water that is needed for decomposition of wastes thus affecting the whole treatment cycle. This semi-treated water when discharged into lakes and rivers detriments the quality of water and the aquatic ecosystem. A case study was conducted in two of the research laboratories in Bangalore; where the End of lifecycle (EoL) stage of various chemicals and equipment were analyzed. It was found that most of these chemicals are disposed of as untreated into sewage water which caused water pollution, algal bloom and eutrophication into the lakes of Bangalore, India. This paper provides a framework for safe disposal and recycling of laboratory wastes; and better implementation of waste management policies for the conservation of our urban water resources.