Expired and Abandoned Chemicals Lead to Safety Problems Down the Line


In the bright, early days, the life of a chemical is laid out ahead with a shiny promise of becoming something more. All roads are open. Will it go to a nuclear chemistry facility or a university lab; will it become commercial goods or perhaps medicine? One of the paths we don’t like to think about is when a chemical expires in storage without being used. These chemicals are left behind to become hazards to everyone on site.

The end of the line for used or expired chemicals is usually chemical waste. With a bar coded chemical inventory tracking system in place, you can get delightfully handy email notifications when a chemical expires. Even better, a best practice chemical management systems keeps inventory to a minimum with Just in Time deliveries, which prevents over-ordering and having to discard excess material.

If these chemicals don’t end up in chemical waste, they get stuck in inventory limbo, taking up storage space without having any use whatsoever. We are seeing stories in the news of the consequences of abandoned chemicals.


A few weeks ago, a fire broke out in an old industrial building, which was partially abandoned in Canton, OH. A stockpile of sulfur ignited and poured toxic sulfur dioxide over the city, causing an evacuation. In other abandoned buildings, stashes of unmarked and non-reported chemicals are not uncommon. People have a right to know what chemicals they live near, but it is a challenge facing these towns and factories with abandoned inventory.

Another story ends on an explosive, but ultimately happy note. Recently in a secondary school, an inventory audit revealed dinitro-phenyl-hydrazine, also known as Brady’s reagent, which is stable if wet, and explosive when dry. Professionals waited until the school was empty, removed the chemical, and took it down to the beach. The squad buried and detonated the chemical with an explosive charge and declared the scene safe. This was a positive outcome of an internal lab audit, which may have saved lives of teachers and students.Both of these stories highlight the need for cradle-to-grave inventory tracking so that nothing falls through the cracks. In these news stories, hazardous chemical inventory is being left behind, largely unattended. Keeping track of inventory means maintaining safety and staying in compliance with regulatory requirements.


With a centralized database and bar code tracking, you are a double click away from seeing the what, where, who, and how much of every chemical on site. Automatic reminders let the computers help you remove inventory as it expires, so that nothing falls through the cracks.

Here at ChemSW, we offer best practices chemical inventory management systems that prepare you for any inventory need. With tight inventory control and bar code tracking, all chemicals are accounted for at all times. Please visit our website to find out more about our products and services today!

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