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Discard Formaldehyde, Lidocaine with Epinephrine, Aluminum Chloride

Q: Is it acceptable to discard formaldehyde, lidocaine with epinephrine, aluminum chloride in kitty litter and then to regular trash?

A: Thanks for your question. Using the kitty litter is a good way to dispose of chemicals or drugs that are not considered hazardous waste. However, I have checked MSDS for 37% formaldehyde solution, lidocaine with epinephrine*, and 30% aluminum chloride solution. Each of these is considered a hazardous waste so they cannot be disposed of in the regular trash even with the kitty litter to prevent their use.

* Epinephrine is considered hazardous waste, however how the law was written many years ago if the compound has more than one active ingredient (i.e. both lidocaine and epinephrine) it is exempted from the listed hazardous waste chemicals. However, per the law waste can also be classified as hazardous if it displays any of the four characteristics of hazardous waste (epinephrine does) and therefore you need to treat the mixed substance as hazardous waste. The exception for lidocaine with epinephrine, if is it a residual amount left in a syringe after a full injection then is considered okay to put in the biohazard (red) sharps container.

Whatever waste you have of these chemicals should be handled as hazardous waste and sent to a RCRA approved incinerator or disposed of in a RCRA approved waste facility. Start by asking your biohazardous waste pick-up company if they have a RCRA hazardous waste permit. If they do, you may be able to schedule a pick-up for this waste through them.

For more information on hazardous waste and to find out your hazardous waste generator status check out Tab 8 of Quality America's Medical OSHA Safety Program Manual or Tab 5 for the Dental OSHA Safety Program Manual.

Posted by Quality America on May 16, 2007 | Comments (2)


Thanks Sarah for the response. The lido with epi is small amts. of partially used syringes so they can go in the biohazardous containers. The formaldehyde is generally very small amts 15-30 cc's. The Aluminum Chloride is generally a small amt. in a near empty bottle. What does RCRA stand for? I've looked at our waste disposal site and can't find that in particular, but it does say "special waste" and refers to pathological waste, trace chemotherapy waste or expired pharmaceuticals.

Posted by: Debbie Manning, LPN at May 16, 2007 01:56 PM

Hi Debbie,

RCRA stands for the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, an EPA law enacted in 1976.

For the lido with epi a syringe that has delivered a full dose is definitely okay to put in the red container. In my opinion placing a partially filled syringe in the red container would be questionable. It's okay by the letter of the law since epi isn't the sole active ingredient, but as far as the environmental effects they are the same whether a hazardous substance is a sole ingredient or a mixture. Maybe it's possible to change to using smaller syringes so there isn't solution remaining?

Formaldehyde is on the EPA's "U-list", therefore no matter how small the unused amount it must be disposed of as hazardous waste.

Aluminum chloride isn't on one of the EPA's lists but because it displays the characteristic of being corrosive it's a hazardous waste. I looked at the MSDS for 30% Aluminum Chloride to determine this, if your solution is more dilute it might not be a corrosive. Check the MSDS for the concentration you are using to see if it has a warning for being corrosive. I know this is a challenge for smaller facilities, but all rules for hazardous waste disposal apply to every hazardous waste no matter how small the amount.

Here is a blog post that talks more about hazardous waste:


It doesn't sound like your waste company's "special waste" includes RCRA hazardous waste. This would be called "bulk chemotherapy waste" or "RCRA waste". Hope this helps!

Posted by: Sarah Alholm at May 16, 2007 02:02 PM

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