Hazardous waste is any unwanted leftover substance that has properties, or contains chemicals, which are dangerous or could harm human or environmental health. Hazardous materials could be toxic, ignitable, reactive and/or corrosive. Hazardous waste is considered to have been “generated” when it is no longer usable or is put into a container for disposal.
All hazardous waste handlers, including schools that generate and handle hazardous waste, are required to notify DEC of their hazardous waste activities and receive an EPA number for their site. To fulfill this requirement, schools that generate hazardous waste must complete and submit a Vermont Hazardous Waste Handler Site ID form.
State law bans hazardous waste from the trash.
What hazardous materials could be in your school?
Read labels for words like: "caution, toxic, danger, hazard, warning, poisonous, reactive, corrosive, or flamable"
In schools, common locations with and types of hazardous materials could include:
- Science classrooms
- laboratory chemicals
- mercury thermometers
- Custodial and maintenance
- Cleaning supplies like ammonia, bleach, drain cleaners, etc.
- Maintenance supplies like paint and thinner, stains, glues, etc.
- Groundskeeping supplies like fertilizers, pesticides, etc.
- Art and woodworking classrooms
- Photography chemicals
- Paints, thinners, stains, inks
- Pottery glaze
- Cosmetology classrooms
- Dyes, nail polish and remover, hair spray, some makeup, etc.
- Antifreeze, brake fluid, oil, gas, grease, etc.
- Printer toners
- Fluorescent light bulbs
- Some batteries
- Some medical items
Recommendations for Schools
- Do not pour hazardous materials down the drain or dispose of as trash.
- Follow steps outlined in this VT DEC flyer to reduce hazardous materials in schools and properly manage those that are necessary.
- Maintain a written Hazardous Communication Action Plan, a Chemical Hygiene Plan, and a Chemical Management Plan.
- Contact Shawn Barth at Project WorkSafe for assistance with writing these plans.
- Find possible grants and scholarships to assist schools with clean out and disposal costs via the VT School Boards Insurance Trust (VSBIT).
- Contact Heidi Joyce at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Contact your local Solid Waste Management Entity for information on collection facilities or events for hazardous materials.
- Follow state and federal guidelines in handling, transporting, storing, and disposing of hazardous materials. Reference Safety Data Sheets (SDS) for each material. Contact Anna Bourakovsky (email@example.com) with the VT Hazardous Waste Management Program if you have any questions.
- Need help getting started? Contact Mia Roethlein (firstname.lastname@example.org) with the VT DEC Solid Waste Program.
- Rehab the Lab by King County in Washington state has a helpful chemical list.
- Instructional videos with Davel Waddell, who worked in King County, show what you might find in a typical school.
- Vermont Hazardous Waste Managment Regulations.
- Chittenden Solid Waste District's Hazardous Management in K-12 Schools.
- US Environmental Protection Agency's Tool kit for Healthy School Environments: Chemical Use and Management.
School Lesson Plans:
- Household Toxic Chemicals (4-6), Cornell Waste Management Institute
- Secret Life of a Smart Phone (5-12), US Environmental Protection Agency
- Hazardous Waste Teaching Resources, Local Hazardous Waste Management Program, King County, WA
- Green Cleaning Project Guide (6-12)