Stanford University

Unknown Material Analysis

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Last updated: April 1, 2019


The Environmental Protection Program has a service for disposing of containers suspected of holding hazardous material. Often, chemicals stored within a laboratory are inadequately labeled, but it is likely that someone working in the lab is aware of their contents. Analysis for hazardous characteristics can be run on unknown chemicals, but this should be a last resort, as it is a time-consuming and expensive process.

Laboratories, shops, and other chemical users are responsible for knowing the contents of all containers in their areas. If you have an unidentified chemical waste that you want to dispose of, attempt to identify the contents by asking other researchers. If the original researcher cannot be found, narrow the scope of potential generators.

If you have exhausted all available information and still cannot identify a waste, EH&S will inspect (and potentially analyze) a sample of the material. This process can take weeks, so you should submit a completed Request for Analysis of Unidentified Material Form as soon as an unknown waste is discovered. Print the form (Submission Review stage) and attach a copy to the container(s). EH&S cannot remove unknown wastes from your lab until they have been positively identified.

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