The event was designed to collect, recycle, and dispose of canned air containers at the Laboratory. Canned air has been widely used at the Laboratory for cleaning computer keyboards. Its use for these non-programmatic purposes, however, is problematic because it is classified as a cryogen and an explosive. As a result, containers must be disposed as a hazardous waste under Resource Recovery and Conservation Act and Department of Transportation requirements. RCRA disposal is regulated by the New Mexico Environment Department, and improper disposal can lead to violations and fines for the Laboratory.
A $23-dollar can of air costs about $217 to properly dispose, and one can typically is used four to five times for keyboard cleaning applications.Keyboards can be cleaned in a much more environmentally friendly and cost-effective manner using a lint-free cloth, cotton swabs or an Underwriters Laboratory (UL)-approved electric duster or “Data Vac.”
Canned air must be bar-coded for inclusion in the Laboratory’s annual hazardous chemical inventory. Laboratory employees are urged to avoid ordering canned air unless it is necessary for programmatic work. Those who have canned air without a bar code should immediately contact IH at 7-924, 7-7807 or by e-mail at email@example.com so it can be added to the owner’s chemical inventory.
The event collected 303 cans for proper disposal, as well as 103 full cans that will be redistributed for programmatic applications. The majority of the collected cans did not appear on the Lab’s ChemLog Inventory, so locating them helped the institution avoid potential hazardous waste compliance violations. An earlier event netted some 400 cans of air. Disposal-cost savings to the Laboratory from each event was about $100,000.
The Laboratory plans another Canned Air Day later this year after IH has completed and assessed its chemical inventory. Employees who want to dispose of canned air during the next Canned Air Day should write to firstname.lastname@example.org by e-mail.
The Environmental Management System (ENV-RRO) and Industrial Hygiene (IH) sponsored Canned Air Day at the Laboratory.
Does anyone else smell a rat? Besides me, that is...
- The price LANL pays for a can of air is three times higher than the most expensive supplier I could find.
- I had no luck finding the regulations on disposal, so I called the New Mexico Environment Department and asked how to dispose of the empty cans. I was told I could throw them in the trash, although they suggested that I recycle the cans if they are empty.