April Safety Topic: Aerosol Cans are Now “Universal Wastes”

Aerosol cans are widely used in the workplace to dispense various products like paints and solvents. In response to environmental concerns, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has added hazardous waste aerosol cans to the category of “Universal Wastes.” Gas cylinders, like propane or acetylene tanks, are not aerosol cans and must be managed under the normal hazardous waste regulations.

  • Why the change? To streamline handling procedures, reduce regulatory costs, and promote recycling efforts.
  • What next? Working with EH&S, the Campus Life Safety & Regulatory Compliance teams have created compliance guidelines and are working on identifying the number of waste containers to be placed within each campus Univeral Waste storage location.

Compliance Guidelines

  1. Identification: Aerosol cans must be either full or partially full.
  2. Handling & Storage: Aerosol cans must be stored in suitable containers in a designated Univeral Waste storage location protected from heat sources, open flames, and direct sunlight.
  3. Incompatibilities: The storage of aerosol cans with incompatible contents in the same container is prohibited (for instance, flammable aerosols must be segregated from corrosive aerosols in distinct storage containers).
  4. Labeling: Containers must be labeled “Universal Waste - Aerosol Can(s).” The date must reflect when the Universal Waste was first placed in the container. The Universal Waste can be stored for any period of less than one year.
  5. Leaking, Spilled, or Broken Universal Waste: Aerosol cans that show evidence of leaking must be immediately contained. The affected area should be isolated to prevent further spread. The material should then be overpacked with absorbents. The contents of the aerosol cans must be managed under the normal hazardous waste regulations.
  6. Collection and Recycling: Designated Universal Waste storage areas that can accommodate aerosol cans and flammable aerosol cans are located across campus.
  7. Emergency Contacts: The 24/7 number to call CUIMC Public Safety is (212) 305-7979. Facilities Management can be reached 24/7 at (212) 305-4357 (option 3)

For more information or questions about Aerosol Cans, please contact your supervisor or a Campus Life Safety & Regulatory Compliance team member.