Transport, storage and waste

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Where do I find instructions for the transport of dangerous substances?

Contact the OHS service. The OHS service has experts who can advise you; an ADR safety advisor, for example, can help.

Can I send a tube of blood in a bubble envelope by post?

No, a bubble envelope does not offer sufficient protection against breakage and leakage. It is permitted to send diagnostic samples (all human materials including excrements, secreta, blood and blood components, tissue and tissue fluids which are transported for diagnostic or examination purposes) by post within the Netherlands.

The packaging must comply with ADR packaging requirements P620 / P650. A number of packages have been approved. The supplier of the packaging must be able to present this approval.

Other, more stringent requirements apply to foreign shipments. For foreign shipments you always need to call in a (specialised) courier service. For information, please contact the ADR safety advisor. Non-infectious blood samples are not subject to an ADR obligation.

Is a blister pack sufficient for sending by courier service?

No, when transporting a blood tube (the primary packaging) in the Netherlands, it must be wrapped in absorbent material that can absorb the entire contents of the tube.

This must be placed in leak-proof packaging (secondary packaging) in its entirety. This, in turn, must be placed in its entirety in an outer package (tertiary packaging) of sufficient strength.

The packaging must meet certain requirements. There is no need to send a special transport document other than a consignment note. No special labels are required on the packaging either, as long as it says 'Biological substance category B' on the outer packaging. It is permissible to pack multiple blood tubes in the secondary packaging safely (break-proof and no contact between tubes). There are no special requirements for the driver or the vehicle. Additional requirements may apply to foreign countries and air transport.

Are there any other rules for sending biological material?

Yes, blood samples suspected of being a class 4 pathogen and cultured material of classes 2, 3 and 4 require the same packaging method as above, but the packaging must be UN-approved.

In accordance with the ADR, special labels must be affixed to the outer packaging. A specified table of contents must also be inserted between the secondary packaging and the outer packaging. A consignment note, a transport document and a hazard card must also be enclosed. The driver must meet the ADR requirements. Additional requirements may apply to foreign countries and air transport.

Does adding dry ice to samples have any consequences?

Yes, if a package contains ice, dry ice or another refrigerant, the packaging must be suitable and approved for this purpose. Suppliers have special approved packaging or suitable outer packaging with labels and with specific instructions available. When sending infectious material (contaminated with microorganisms such as viruses and bacteria), the outer packaging must also comply with the UN test requirements.

Can I send cytostatics by pneumatic tube transport?

Yes, provided that leak-proof cartridges and packaging are used. A separate tube system is recommended, i.e. solely for the transport of cytostatics. However, because of the risk of breakage and therefore leakage, it is recommended to keep the use of pneumatic tube transport for dangerous substances to a minimum. If a pneumatic tube transport system is used, please refer to the internal rules for its proper use.


What is the maximum storage stock of dangerous substances?

It is permitted to store work quantities in the workplace. This should not lead to large quantities of dangerous substances in a room. As a rule of thumb, the storage volume should not be more than 25 kg or litres of dangerous substances per room. If this quantity is exceeded, additional storage facilities are required, such as special storage cabinets and drip trays. Your OSH service can advise you on this.

Is a fire protection cabinet the same as a chemical cabinet?

No, a chemical cabinet is a lightly vented cabinet suitable for irritant and/or harmful substances. Special acid/lye cabinets are available for the storage of acids and lyes.

A fire protection cabinet has an established fire resistance as well as an extraction system. They are often fitted with self-closing doors, mechanical extraction and a separate internal drip tray, making them suitable for the storage of flammable substances. In the event of a fire, a fire protection cabinet can minimise the spread of the fire.

A new cabinet must comply with the European standard EN-14470-1. Old cabinets installed before 1 January 2005 must at least comply with standard NEN 2678.

Are all chemicals allowed to be in the same fire protection cabinet?

No, a fire protection cabinet is for the storage of flammable liquids. All flammable, highly flammable or extremely flammable substances, such as ether, alcohol, acetone and xylene, should be stored in it.

Other dangerous substances such as acids and lyes and solids are best stored in other special cabinets. Acids and lyes can damage the interior of a fire protection cabinet and cause it to lose its function.

It is better to separate the chemicals as much as possible. And it is also better to store them in a chemical cabinet (see 20). If acids, lyes and oxidising substances are stored in one cabinet, they must all be placed in separate drip trays. If the shelf is also a drip tray, the various groups of substances are placed on their own shelves, separated from each other. However, a sealed poison cabinet can be placed in a fire protection cabinet, separated from the other substances.

Is the storage of cleaning agents subject to special requirements?

No, cleaners are subject to the same rules as the other dangerous substances. Cleaners may also be flammable, irritant, or corrosive. See also question 9.


Can I store ether in a household refrigerator?

No, ether should not be stored in a household refrigerator. A household refrigerator is not explosion-proof. In hot weather, ether is sometimes stored in a cool place because of its low boiling point of 36°C. This must then be done in an explosion-proof refrigerator, where no sparks can form in the storage compartment.

A small amount of spilling or leakage due to the rapid evaporation of ether (ether has a high vapour pressure of 587 mbar) can easily become an explosive vapour-air mixture. The explosion limit is as low as 1.7%. Due to the low flashpoint (-45°C), an explosive mixture can also form in a refrigerator. A single spark through the door switch of the refrigerator light suffices to cause an explosion.

Can I keep cans of soft drinks in the laboratory refrigerator?

No, storing food and drink in a laboratory is not permitted. You are also not allowed to eat, drink or smoke in a laboratory area.


Is a fire protection cabinet allowed to be in the hallway?

No, usually not. If a fire protection cabinet cannot be placed in the laboratory, it can be placed in the hallway, provided that it is not within one metre of a door, the hallway does not serve as an escape route, the hallway is not accessible to visitors/patients (i.e. always locked) and this is not contrary to the local fire regulations or the UMC's permits.


Am I supposed to affix a hazard label to homemade solutions?

Yes, this is mandatory under the Working Conditions Decree Article 4.1c et seq. The label must contain the name of the mixture, the percentages of the substances, the hazard pictogram, the H and P phrases (R and S phrases), the date of manufacture, the expiry date and the initials or name of the concoctor.

This is also a standard that is followed by various organisations that accredit laboratories.

If the mixture contains a carcinogenic, mutagenic or highly toxic substance, you must affix a pictogram indicating this type of hazard. A solution is a mixture of compounds, so in the case of aqueous solutions, the common names of the dissolved substances must be given. In the case of a solution in an organic liquid, the name of the solvent must also be stated. This applies to all (work) solutions that are stored for longer than one day.

Can I put alcohol in a siphon?

No, not in a regular siphon. You can, however, use special siphons. Alcohol may only be used in a siphon with an overpressure valve. Normal siphon bottles build up pressure in the bottle and then siphon the contents through the hose out of it, even if the siphon is not in use. Make sure that the bottle is properly labelled.


Can I carry a bottle containing a dangerous substance by its cap?

No, the cap may not have been tightened properly. Picking up the bottle by its cap may cause the cap to come off. The bottom of the cap and the top of the neck of a bottle may be contaminated after use. Grabbing the bottle there maximises the chance of infection of the hands. Use the handle, if present, or support the bottom of the bottle with the other hand. If necessary, use a carrycot or bucket for transport. (Also do this with bottles containing other dangerous substance.)

Can I flush phosphate buffer (PBS) through the sink?

Yes, you generally can. Buffered saline solutions are not dangerous substances and have no H phrase or R phrase. According to the European Waste List (EURAL), these substances do not classify as hazardous waste. You can therefore discharge them in the sink, provided that no other dangerous substances have been dissolved in them above the specified concentration limit.


Are there any substances that I can discard in the sink?

Yes, blood, urine and bodily fluids can be disposed of in the sewer, i.e. in sinks or toilets, provided they are not infectious.

Infectious is, for example, a substance originating from a patient who is infected with a risk class 4 microorganism such as the Lassa fever virus and Ebola.

If they are infectious (risk class 4), they must first be autoclaved or disposed of in special waste drums such as infectious human material UN 2814. If cytostatically contaminated urine and/or excrement has been collected in a bedpan, it must be disposed of using the bedpan washer.

Infusion liquid may also be discharged in the sewer (toilet or sink), unless it contains cytotoxic substances or cytostatics. If these substances are present, they must be disposed of in a specific hospital waste container. Liquids in a specific hospital waste container must be absorbed and must nog be discarded into the specific hospital waste container, unless their packaging is still closed.

Can ethidium bromide be discarded in the sink?

No. For mutagenic substances such as ethidium bromide, as well as for carcinogens and highly toxic substances, the EURAL stipulates that a solution containing 0.1% or more of these substances is to be treated as hazardous waste. Ethidium bromide is a polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon that is toxic and harmful.

Buffers containing ethidium bromide can be purified of the ethidium bromide by a charcoal filter or other absorbent materials. A buffer solution purified of ethidium bromide can then be discarded.

Electrophoresis gels with a concentration of more than 0.1 % ethidium bromide must be disposed of in the hazardous waste container (not specific hospital waste container).

Does the 0.1% concentration limit also apply to cytostatic medicines?

Yes, this also applies to this group of medicines. Staff who work with (solutions of) cytostatic medicines follow the normal rules for handling carcinogenic and reprotoxic substances and hazardous waste. In the care units, disposable materials contaminated with cytostatics must be discarded into the specific hospital waste container.

See also the OHS Catalogue of Cytostatics on the website.

Any other substances that should never be disposed of in the sink?

Yes, certainly. For example, chemicals belonging to the group of Substances of Very High Concern. In the past, this list was known as 'Black list substances’.

They are so harmful to the environment that their disposal is prohibited under any circumstances. This list includes heavy metals, organic halogen compounds and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). The permit under the Pollution of Surface Waters Act refers to these as 'Substances of Very High Concern'.

For some substances or categories of substances, the concentration limits that must not be exceeded in the waste water are given. The list is updated on a regular basis. For an overview of these substances, see: SVHC list.

Are there any hazardous waste materials that must not be disposed of together?

Yes, every hospital has a number of categories of waste that must be collected separately. For example, there are waste streams for GMO waste, microbiologically contaminated waste, aqueous waste, organic fluids, high in halogen and low in halogen.

Please note: some substances react violently with each other or produce dangerous substances when in contact with each other, for example the combination of acid and lye. Familiarise yourself thoroughly with your UMC's waste separation instructions. For advice, please contact the OHS service.

Are there any hazardous waste materials that must not be stored together?

Yes, every UMC has a number of types of waste that must be collected separately. Some substances react violently with each other or produce dangerous vapours when in contact with each other. Special attention must be paid to the combination of acid and lye, chlorite or hypochlorite, cyanides, sulphides and to the combination of nitric acid and formic acid, acetic acid, toluene and formaldehyde. Familiarise yourself thoroughly with the instructions for waste separation in your hospital. For example, there are separate waste streams for specific hospital waste.

Should medicines be disposed of as hazardous waste?

Dispose of drug residues in accordance with the UMC rules. The pharmacy plays a central role in medicines; not only in their issue but also in their disposal. The exception to this rule are cytostatics. Residues of cytostatics are hazardous waste that is to be disposed of via the specific hospital waste stream.

Can I stack loose drums containing dangerous substances?

No, loose drums must not be stacked, unless they are suitable for stacking or additional devices are provided. Fragile containers must not be stacked under any circumstances.


Can I use a washing-up bowl as a drip tray?

No, special drip trays are available from laboratory suppliers. What is most important is that the drip tray is resistant to the liquid that can flow into the drip tray. The choice of material depends on the chemicals used. Some plastics are not suitable for organic solvents. A steel container, however, will rust quickly in contact with acid.

A drip tray must meet the following requirements:

  • The edge must be high enough.
  • The container or bottle cannot fall over the edge;
  • The drip tray must be able to accommodate the total contents of liquid(s);
  • The drip tray must be larger than the item placed into it. The item must not get stuck in the container;
  • The material of the drip tray must be resistant to the chemical used.

A plastic washing-up bowl is resistant to aqueous solutions and therefore not suitable for chemicals.

Can an oxygen cylinder explode spontaneously?

No, the gas cylinder can only be launched as a projectile or even explode due to improper use of the pressure regulator, if the pressure regulator breaks off, if the cylinder falls, if heated or if the cylinder is rusting. The cylinders and their pressure regulators must be part of a maintenance system, with the supplier testing and, if necessary, replacing the cylinders with pressure regulators at regular intervals.


Are there any special requirements for the storage of gas cylinders?

Yes, in order to prevent damage, gas cylinders (empty and full) must be properly secured during storage, use and removal. Place them in (movable) racks or against the wall. Protect gas cylinders from warming, heating or adverse weather conditions. The storage of full cylinders is allowed up to a volume of 115 litres. The storage of larger quantities requires the use of a vented fire protection cabinet.