NIH Drain Disposal Guide

The NIH waste policy requires that all wastes be reduced to the greatest extent feasible to limit any negative environmental impact. The NIH objective is to dispose of chemicals via the waste management service and prevent discharges to the sanitary sewer. Current NIH waste management practices include collection of chemicals through waste disposal services.

The NIH Office of Research Facilities, Division of Environmental Protection (DEP), in coordination with the Scientific Directors and NIEHS leadership, has developed a guide on what can go down the drain, as part of a larger, far-more comprehensive waste management strategy.  Laboratory workers should consult the Drain Disposal Guide before disposing of any lab chemicals down the drain. Only chemicals approved for drain disposal by the NIH Division of Environmental Protection (NIH/DEP) may be disposed of down the drain. Surplus solid chemicals must be disposed of through the NIH chemical waste services and not discharged down the sanitary sewer. Here is the approved chemicals list for disposal via the sanitary sewer.

When disposing of an approved chemical listed in the NIH Drain Disposal Guide via the drain, you must use the following procedures:

1.     Ensure the sink to be used for drain disposal of chemicals is clear of all items.

2.     The worker shall wear appropriate PPE (lab coat, nitrile gloves, and protective eye wear).

3.     Turn on cold water and let run for about one (1) minute to ensure there is adequate flow of water down drain, no back up into the sink. Do not use the sink for disposal of chemicals if water does not freely flow down the drain.  

4.     Slowly pour material down the sink drain minimizing splashing.

5.     Rinse out the material container if to dispose of, recycle, or reuse.

6.     Clean sink to ensure sink basin is free of material.

7.     Let tap water run for about two (2) minutes after pour to allow the material to flush through p-traps.

8.     Shut off water taps to sink.


If you are unsure if a chemical can be disposed of via the drain or if you do not see the chemical on the list of approved chemicals for drain disposal, do not dispose of via the drain and call NIH DEP at 301-496-7990 for further guidance.


Chemicals that are not listed on the approved disposal list within the Drain Disposal Guide may be considered for drain disposal; however, this is done through an application approval process and the application can be completed at the below link. Please note that when pursuing this option, disposal via the sanitary sewer can occur only after an application has been reviewed and approved by DEP.