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's intent is to dispose of chemicals via the waste disposal service and avoid discharges to the sanitary sewer. WSSC closely monitors our discharges on a periodic basis, limits on specific chemicals in the wastewater are becoming more stringent and NIH must avoid inappropriate discharges which can result in regulatory violations and negative public scrutiny.  Avoiding discharges to the sanitary sewer furthers our mission of protecting human health and the environment.

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 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.  Updates - this list will be adjusted as new information becomes available which means that you should check back annually to confirm if discharges are still acceptable.

Please note:  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 following 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.

Submitting a Drain Discharge Application:

  1. Consult the NIH Drain Discharge Guidance prior to initiating an application.
    1. For a quick reference to the list of approved chemicals please visit approved chemicals list for disposal via the sanitary sewer
  1. If the entire list of chemicals that you plan to discharge via the sanitary sewer are on the approved list, you may dispose of via the sanitary sewer and will need to follow the procedures as listed here.
    1. Please note that Any aqueous waste outside the pH range between 6 and 10 is not authorized for discharge to drain and will result in an application disapproval.
  1. If you are unsure of your waste streams chemicals and/or chemical characteristics, submit an application for review and a decision will be rendered to determine if your waste may be able to be discharged to the sanitary    sewer.  Please visit the following link to submit an application:
    1. If a chemical(s) you intend to dispose of are not listed on the approved list, you must collect your chemicals and dispose of via the NIH chemical waste contract service by calling 301-496-4710 or if you have questions or need further technical assistance with your waste management procedures, please contact 301-496-7990.
    2. If you would still like to submit an application for review even though your chemicals are not listed on the approved list, please submit an application at the following link:

More information on the Drain Disposal Guide can be found in this recent presentation to the NIH Lab Manager's meeting group: