Conservation DistList Archives [Date] [Subject] [Author] [SEARCH]

Subject: Medical residues

Medical residues

From: Paul Storch <paul.storch>
Date: Wednesday, October 6, 1999
Ramona Duncan-Huse inquired about procedures and protocols for the
handling, removal and disposal of chemicals and potentially
hazardous materials from collections containers.  About six years
ago, an entire issue of Caduceus was dedicated to this issue.
Unfortunately, the articles were rather general and theoretical
rather than giving actual guidelines.  I am currently working on
completing a procedures manual for dealing with this problem in the
collections of the Minnesota Historical Society.  I also intend to
publish it as an article.  I dealt with a very similar situation
when I was the Chief Conservator at the South Carolina State Museum
when we had to install an early 20th century general store and its
contents.  Most of the protocols that I now use were developed at
that time.

This is an extensive subject but to summarize very briefly:

    *   Assess the condition of the container, components, and

    *   Determine if the closure can be preserved (consult with
        curator). Clean using the proper safety equipment.  Dust
        should be wet cleaned and/or vacuumed using a HEPA filter
        machine such as a Nilfisk GS-80.

    *   Remove closure, remove contents into stable container

    *   Characterize the substances as completely as possible:
        measure the pH with indicator paper or meter, describe
        color, odor, texture, etc.; use any other spot tests
        available such as those for arsenic, lead, mercury if those
        components are suspected.

    *   Retain a small sample (1-2 oz.) in a lab quality container.
        Weigh and or record volume.  Record on label and data base.
        Number the container and cross reference to accession number
        of the container.

    *   Store in appropriate conditions; i.e. locked box for
        controlled substances such as heroin, cocaine, opium, etc.;
        refrigerator for perishable or volatile materials, e.g.
        'spirits' which usually indicate an alcoholic extract; room
        temp., dark storage for most of the materials.

    *   Group like materials together for disposal by a professional
        hazmat disposal contractor.  Put powders together; polar
        solvents together; non-polar solvents together, etc..  Use
        approved containers for waste storage and label properly.
        Check with your contractor and state OSHA or Pollution
        Control Agency for specific packaging and labeling
        instructions. Usually the exact identification of the
        material does not have to be known as long as a general
        description can be given and possible reactive materials are
        not mixed.  Your institution will have to obtain an EPA
        number before you can dispose of these materials properly.

I hope this gives you a general idea of what is involved and I will
be happy to share my  formal procedures manual once it is completed.

Paul S. Storch
Objects Conservator
Daniels Objects Conservation Laboratory (DOCL)
B-109.1, Minnesota History Center
345 Kellogg Blvd. West
St. Paul, MN  55102-1906
Fax: 651-297-2967

                  Conservation DistList Instance 13:24
                  Distributed: Friday, October 8, 1999
                       Message Id: cdl-13-24-001
Received on Wednesday, 6 October, 1999

[Search all CoOL documents]