Whatever goes down the drain ends up in the ocean, so the San Diego Metropolitan Wastewater Department strictly regulates sewer waste.
What can go down the drain
The only substances allowed down drains are those that meet all of the following criteria:
- No radioactive waste
- No hazardous chemical waste
- No untreated biohazardous waste
- No solids, sludges, or viscous substances
- Will not interfere with sewage treatment operations
- No corrosive pH levels
- No grease or oil
- No hot (150°F or higher) temperatures in volumes of more than 10 gallons
Click on a category below to find out if a substance is allowed to go down the drain at UCSD.
- If you can't find a particular substance and aren't sure how to dispose of it, contact the EH&S Environmental Management Facility, (858) 534-3660.
Note: Protect drains from chemical spills — do not use sinks for chemical storage or secondary containment.
|Type of material:||Common drain disposal questions:|
|Material||Can it go down the drain?||
|Biohazardous waste||Solids: NO
Liquids: NO, unless they have been deactivated
|Liquid biohazardous waste can be decontaminated and made suitable for drain disposal in 2 ways:
|Controlled substances||Solids: NO||Read Controlled Substances: Managing Inventory for disposal procedures.|
|Radioactive waste||NO||Read How to Store and Dispose of Radioactive Waste for disposal instructions.|
|Hazardous chemical waste||NO||Read How to Identify Hazardous Chemical Waste for guidance on hazardous chemical waste determination. Follow appropriate disposal procedures.|
|Non-liquids||Can it go down the drain?||What to do with it|
|Solids, sludges, or viscous substances||NO||These items can obstruct the flow of sewage.
|Powders and salts||NO||These items can obstruct the flow of sewage.
|Corrosive pH levels||Can it go down the drain?||What to do with it|
|Corrosive waste with a pH between 2.0 and 5.0||NO, unless it has been adjusted||You have 2 disposal options:
|Corrosive waste with a pH of 2.0 or lower or pH of 12.5 or higher||NO||This kind of waste is always considered hazardous chemical waste.
|Hot liquids||Can it go down the drain?||What to do with it|
|Hot, nonhazardous liquids (150°F or more)||NO, unless in volumes of less than 10 gallons||For 10 gallons or more of nonhazardous hot liquid:
|Grease and oil||Can it go down the drain?||What to do with it|
|Grease and oil||NO, unless the concentration is less than 500 mg per liter||For higher concentrations:
|Common questions||Can it go down the drain?||What to do with it|
|Alcohols||NO, unless the concentration is nonhazardous||Ethanol is nonhazardous in concentrations less than 24%. Dilution of higher concentrations of any alcohol is not allowed. For other alcohols:|
|Formalin and formaldehyde||NO, unless the concentration is nonhazardous and does not contain methanol or other hazardous chemicals||This concentration is nonhazardous and can go down the drain:
|Hydrogen peroxide||NO, unless its concentration is less than 8%||Dilution of higher concentrations is not allowed. For higher concentrations:|
|Photo and X-ray processor chemicals||NO, unless it is spent photo developer not mixed with fixer||For concentrated, unused processor chemicals and other spent solutions:
|Other chemicals||NO, unless the concentration is nonhazardous||Some chemicals are hazardous in any concentration. Dilution of higher concentrations is not allowed.
|Latex paint||NO||Read Latex Paint Disposal for disposal instructions.|
|Oil paint||NO||Read How to Store and Dispose of Hazardous Chemical Waste for disposal instructions.|
|Wash and rinse water||NO, unless it has not been contaminated by hazardous materials or highly caustic, acidic, or toxic cleaning solutions||Read Wash and Rinse Water Disposal for complete information.|