Ask Dr. Dave: Can we safely dispose of adhesives and sealants through the drains?
Dave Dunn's April 2019 column.
I suspect that the concentration of your products in the water is very low, but the answer is almost certainly no! First, you have to distinguish between water that is disposed through the drains with your storm water, which means that it flows directly into streams and rivers, and the wastewater that goes to a municipal water-treatment plant.
Regulations are strict regarding the disposal of contaminated water in storm drains. Many adhesives and sealants are biodegradable, which is good for the environment. Ironically, it also means that they increase the biological oxygen demand (BOD) of the water, and the water needs to be treated to meet local or national regulations. BODs are normally five-day values measured in a laboratory and are designed to simulate what happens in a biological sewage plant. BOD levels from industrial plants are not mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency, but are set by your local municipal treatment plant. Typically, if your waste exceeds a BOD value of 300-400mg/l, they will either refuse to take the effluent or charge you extra fees, although most plants can actually handle 1,000mg/l or more. Some industrial factories or industrial parks have their own treatment plants prior to the municipal facilities.
The important thing is that you get a water laboratory to measure the BOD; it is essential that you get the BOD of your entire waste measured, because dilution with ordinary sanitary waste will usually lower the BOD level substantially. In some cases, you may contaminate the water with other impurities such as heavy metals; in this case, you will need to get those measured as well.
Any views or opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not represent those of ASI, its staff, Editorial Advisory Board or BNP Media.