Physicochemical Treatment of Research Laboratory Wastewater: A Case Study

  • Sundar Ramanathan
  • R. B. Lal
Part of the SpringerBriefs in Environmental Science book series (BRIEFSENVIRONMENTAL)


Research laboratory professionals explore the wonder of science through experiments that generate new knowledge and sometimes, new products. In India, there are many research laboratories in government sector as well as in private sector. Each research laboratory’s diverse developmental activities generate comparatively small quantities of wastes with widely varying compositions. These wastes may include acidic/toxic fumes, wastewater contaminated with oils, heavy metals and organics, discarded solid residues, and contaminated solid containers. These wastes are released into the environment through sink disposal of chemicals, release of chemicals through fume hoods, and mixing of laboratory wastes with other trash material.

Until the 1980s research laboratory wastes were not a great concern. Legal and regulatory requirements, reinforced by a public opinion spurred the handling of hazardous wastes in a responsible way. With the stricter environmental legislation, there can be civil and criminal penalties for failure to legal requirements. So it was necessary to develop and improve the ways of managing wastes generated in the laboratory.

In developed countries, research laboratory wastes are managed more professionally and in an effective manner. In India, management of research laboratory wastes was receiving due attention, only recently, and there was a need for in depth R&D in this area. The quantity and quality of the research laboratory wastes are varied from laboratory to laboratory, and it mainly depends upon the type of research orientation, experimental work, consumption of analytical and chemical reagents and the amount of experimental wastes. Direct disposal of such laboratory wastes to the environment might lead to a serious surface water pollution as well as ground water pollution. So there should be a suitable treatment methodology to handle such type of wastes. As a result, there was a growing interest in the development of new technologies and procedures, for the decontamination of the research laboratory wastes.

In this scenario, one can consider the various treatments options, which includes physicochemical treatment and biological treatment. It was essential to characterize the wastes in terms of physical, chemical, and biochemical parameters before adopting a treatment sequence. The case study presents the detailed waste management studies carried out for a research laboratory, which involved in research and development work in the field of environmental science. It includes the evaluation of the quantity and quality of liquid waste generation and to delineate proper treatment sequence to reduce the pollution load from the laboratory wastewater for reuse (or) safe disposal into surface water/public sewer/irrigation purpose without causing any pollution problem.


Research lab Waste water Effluent Chemical treatment 


  1. American Society for Testing and Materials (2000) Annual book of ASTM standards water and environmental technology. Practice for coagulation and flocculation jar test of water D2035-80. (ASTM, Easton, USA, Washington, DC, 1986)Google Scholar
  2. USEPA (1986) Laboratory manual physical/chemical methods – test methods for evaluating solid waste SW –846 (office of the solid waste and energy response, USEPA, Washington, DC, 1986)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sundar Ramanathan
    • 1
  • R. B. Lal
    • 2
  1. 1.Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Regional OfficeChennaiIndia
  2. 2.Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate ChangeNew DelhiIndia

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