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Hazardous Waste: Common Hazardous Wastes


A hazardous waste is a particular class of "solid" waste (which can be solid, liquid or gaseous material) which, if improperly managed, poses a substantial threat or potential hazard to human health and/or the environment. A person who first causes a material to become a "solid" waste must determine if the waste is a hazardous waste and subject to regulation by the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE). This waste determination is conducted initially by evaluating the waste material against a series of specific waste chemicals and categories as identified by MDE. Copies of these lists are maintained by the Department of Environmental Safety, Sustainability and Risk (ESSR) and can be found in COMAR 26.13. If a waste does not appear on these lists, the person must determine if the waste exhibits any of the characteristics of hazardous waste; ignitability, corrosivity, reactivity and/or toxicity. Proper waste determination is highly dependent on the use of a given material.

Typical hazardous wastes generated at the University of Maryland include wastes generated during laboratory operations, facilities and maintenance operations, construction and renovation activities. These wastes include waste solvents, paints, oils, PCBs, and mercury-containing lamps. In the majority of cases, these wastes either appear on MDE's lists of hazardous waste or exhibit a characteristic of hazardous waste.

This fact sheet provides management guidance for these commonly generated hazardous wastes within the University. It should be emphasized that many other substances are subject to hazardous waste requirements. Additional guidance is available in the Hazardous Waste Management Fact Sheet.

Applicable University Policy

  • University of Maryland Environmental Safety, Sustainability and Risk and Health Management Policy
  • Hazardous and Regulated Waste Procedures

Applicable Regulation

COMAR 26.13 - Disposal of Controlled Hazardous Substances

Summary of Requirements

The following provides a general description and information pertaining to commonly generated hazardous wastes. Additional guidance is available in the Hazardous Waste Management Fact Sheet and by contacting ESSR.

  • Paint Wastes: Paint wastes are typically generated during routine facility painting and paint removal projects. Many paints as products are comprised of various solvents and/or metal constituents which render paint hazardous as a waste. In addition, many formulations of paint are ignitable (flash point less than 140 degrees F) which would also make waste paint hazardous. Typical solvents found in paint may include acetone and xylene. Metal constituents could include lead and cadmium. Paint wastes include paint chips generated during paint stripping and removal projects. In many cases, older buildings contain paint that contains substantial concentrations of lead. The lead content of these paint chips is often high enough to render the chips as characteristic hazardous waste for lead, with a waste code D008.
  • Waste Solvents: Solvents used during laboratory operations or facilities operations and unsuitable for reuse are typically classified as hazardous waste. MDE's F-list of hazardous waste (waste codes F001 thru F005) contains numerous spent solvents including, but not limited to, methylene chloride, xylene, 1,1,1,-tricholorethane and ethyl acetate. Unused/off-specification solvents are typically found on the MDE's U-list of hazardous waste.
  • Waste Oils: Waste oils are generated from many sources, including facility heating/cooling equipment, vacuum pumps, and motor vehicles. Waste oil is regulated as a hazardous waste if it is disposed of, but is subject to reduced regulation if it is recycled. Burning of waste oil is heavily regulated.
  • PCBs: Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were widely manufactured and used in the United States throughout the 1950's and 60's. PCB's were utilized as electrical insulators in various electrical equipment. MDE has listed wastes which contain 50 parts per million or more PCBs as hazardous waste. PCB-containing oil is typically found in older electrical transformers and light fixtures (ballasts). Electrical equipment which contains PCBs are required to be properly labeled indicating the presence of PCBs. The waste code for PCB-containing waste is MT01.
  • Mercury-Containing Lamps: Mercury-containing lamps include fluorescent light tubes, mercury vapor lamps and high intensity discharge lamps. In many cases, these lamps contain elemental mercury in a powder phosphor usually coating the lamp interior. The mercury content in this powder typically renders fluorescent lamps as characteristic hazardous waste for mercury, with a waste code of D009.



Generators of hazardous waste must ensure that personnel involved with the management of hazardous waste complete a hazardous waste training program within six months of hire and annually thereafter. ESSR provides online hazardous waste training coursed at


ESSR reports all University hazardous waste activity in a report sent to MDE called a Biennial Report. In order to accurately report hazardous waste activity, it is important that ESSR be made aware of hazardous waste activity in your area. In addition, all hazardous waste manifests should be signed and managed by ESSR.


Satellite accumulation areas where hazardous waste is stored should be inspected on a weekly basis. Inspections of container storage and/or accumulation areas should include evaluating the condition of containers, the compatibility of wastes, labeling and evaluating if the containers are properly closed and sealed.


Generators of hazardous waste are required to retain various records including waste analysis results and hazardous waste manifests. Specific regulatory requirements govern the timely and accurate distribution of manifests to environmental agencies.

University Resources

Department of Environmental Safety, Sustainability and Risk (301) 405-3960
ESSR Fax No.    (301) 314-9294
ESSR Website:
Hazardous and Regulated Waste Procedures Manual
UMD Waste Disposal Guidelines Calendar

Written 5/98
Revised 5/02
Reviewed 4/05

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