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Formaldehyde down the sink?

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by CBgaragebassist, Feb 11, 2013.

  1. I've recently acquired a job with my college as a lab assistant in the biology department. One of my responsibilities includes moving specimens from formaldehyde to a carosafe solution. My supervisor (who is my professor this semester) tells me to dump the used liquid down the sink. This struck me as a bit...illegal? Anyone have any experience with this?
  2. AaronMB


    Aug 17, 2012
    Central Oregon
    In some places--it seems, per my quick searching--it is legal if its concentration is reduced to a specific amount (below 100pm, in this case, or it must be disposed of as a hazardous waste).

    If you know the concentration....in this context, I'd wager that it's illegal. Certainly don't quote me on it.

    I'd do the right thing, but carefully watch my ass--considering a new job--while doing so.
  3. I'm not aware of the concentration. And it seems my professor wouldn't be either, since he says some of the specimens were there before he arrived at this college. A friend asked another biology professor about it and she responded "I didn't hear you say that."
  4. basscooker

    basscooker Commercial User

    Apr 11, 2010
    cincy ky
    Owner, Chopshopamps.com
    no no no don't put it in the sink! geez that stuff should be put in the cafeteria's soup of the day. IIRC this should be an improvement.
  5. elgecko


    Apr 30, 2007
    Anasleim, CA
    Formaldehyde is an EPA regulated waste and probably shouldn't be dumped undiluted if at all.
  6. Hi.

    Contact Your local waste authorities or go to their website and search for the allowable concentrations.

    You can approximate the concentration by the use the solution is intended to, or do some tests if it bothers you.

    What kind of amount of liquid we're talking about BTW?

  7. If he had done it similarly to the ratio that he's instructing me to do, it's a little over 74 ounces(2200 ml) in a 10:1 ratio of water to formaldehyde/carosafe. This is my speculation though.
  8. AaronMB


    Aug 17, 2012
    Central Oregon
    There's a difference. Carosafe is not formaldehyde (according to my reading).

    Carosafe is often OK to dump into the sewer.
  9. Carosafe is the fluid I'm adding, all the old jars I'm supposed to dump are formaldehyde.
  10. Thick McRunfast

    Thick McRunfast Not just good, good enough

    Sep 30, 2012
    Portland, Oregon USA
    From Alaska http://dec.alaska.gov/eh/docs/sw/Formalin_Disposal.pdf

    Doesn't your campus have an environmental safety and health department of some kind? If so start there. If not, call around to some of the larger institutions in the state and talk to their EHS professionals.
  11. P. Aaron

    P. Aaron Supporting Member

    Have you tried lighting it on fire? Does it burn?
  12. I've never worked with formaldehyde/formalin before, is this a legitimate question?
  13. elgecko


    Apr 30, 2007
    Anasleim, CA
  14. It's probably (hopefully) formalin considering formaldehyde's carcinogenic properties.
  15. If it's potentially going down the sink it's probably formalin (formaldehyde is a gas), formaldehyde is quite volatile and is released from the solution, it's still not a very nice compound to work with (though still one of the best things around for fixing cells).

    OP, check your local laws, your deparment may even have specific waste containment you can use.
  16. Thick McRunfast

    Thick McRunfast Not just good, good enough

    Sep 30, 2012
    Portland, Oregon USA
    It's a legitimate question but not the answer to your question
  17. Thomas Kievit

    Thomas Kievit Guest

    May 19, 2012
    Not a good idea. No matter how you look at it, it's chemicals and it should be carried away safely to a company that can digest it.
  18. Everything you put down the sink is a chemical.

    Depending on the local infrastructure and handling, low quantities may not be an issue, it isn't like heavy metals where they can build up in concentration.
  19. hover


    Oct 4, 2008
    Has no one seen "the Host"? Don't do it.

    Seriously though, I would think that pretty not-ok to do. Your campus should have a regulated waste storage area for this stuff to be disposed of / processed properly. Formaldehyde is a carcinogen. Don't dump it into the water supply. Question it to your professor and if not adequately proven it's safe to do at the particular concentrations deemed by law to be safe, then flat our refuse to do it.
  20. Indiana Mike

    Indiana Mike

    Nov 18, 2005
    Where do you work,who is your supervisors name ,what department and what room is the sink in.

    We as humans generate enough waste . We don't purposely need to make it worse .

    If it's legal fine ,if it's not some kids are gonna have birth defects because of it . Or some fish is gonna die ,,,or a bird will....