The University of Iowa

Peroxide Formers Waste Disposal

Potential Hazard

Ethers and many other chemicals, especially oxygen-containing chemicals, are prone to form peroxides while in storage. Once a chemical becomes peroxidized, the peroxides may explode when concentrated, or with impact, heat, or friction.

Proper Chemical Management of Peroxide-Forming Chemicals

All labs should actively manage peroxide-forming chemicals. Utilize the following practices:

  • Purchase chemicals in small quantities.
  • Date containers upon receipt.
  • Date containers when first opened.
  • Obtain peroxide test strips such as KI/starch, Aquafast, EM Quant, or Quantofix. They are available from most large chemical distributors, such as VWR, Fisher and Aldrich.
  • Test contents for peroxides quarterly.
  • Record test date and results on container.
  • Dispose of chemicals that have reached their expiration date.
  • Dispose of containers once chemicals start showing peroxide formation.
  • For waste pickup, complete a Chemical Waste Pickup Request Form.


Disposal Procedure for Properly Managed Peroxide-Forming Chemicals 


Disposal Procedure for Improperly Managed Peroxide-Forming Chemicals

  • Notification: Notify EHS if you discover a container of a peroxide-former that is past its expiration date, and/or has not been tested. EHS will attempt to assess the level of risk associated with the potential hazard of the container. Containers of peroxide-formers that present a level of risk of handling/disposal that is beyond EHS capabilities will require stabilization by a high hazard stabilization contractor. EHS will coordinate the contracting effort. The chemical owner will be responsible for all costs of stabilization. After stabilization, EHS will dispose of the chemical at no additional cost. 
  • Cost & Scheduling: Depending on the circumstances, stabilization costs may range between $500 and $1500 or more. Regarding the cost, there are two options.
    • Urgent: The lab will bear the full cost of stabilization.
    • Scheduled: If the lab has a safe place to isolate and store the chemical for a limited period of time, every effort will be made to coordinate with other high hazard stabilization efforts, thereby sharing the costs for mobilization of the high hazard team with others. In this case, the cost of stabilization can be shared among multiple labs, which can sometimes reduce costs; however, there is no guarantee that a coordinated effort will be available during the time of need. Under this circumstance, the lab will have no choice but to bear the full cost of stabilization.
    • Payment: Each chemical owner must provide EHS with an interdepartmental requisition before the work will be scheduled.
    • Stabilization Process: The lab must be vacant during set-up and stabilization. Furthermore, it may be required that adjacent spaces are also vacated. Labs must inform neighbors of this possibility. The high hazard stabilization team will evaluate each location and create a site specific safety plan for their work. During a typical procedure the team will wear personal protective equipment that may include fire protective gear such as flash suits and respirators. They will set up robotic equipment to remotely open the containers, and then chemically treat the peroxide former to destroy the peroxides. After stabilization, EHS will arrange for removal of the waste containers.