Regulations and Requirements for the handling of Universal Waste Materials are addressed under the EPA's regulation 40 CFR 273.
Universal Waste tends to carry a great deal of mercury. Although mercury is a naturally occurring element, when an overabundance is released into the atmosphere it ends up being absorbed by water, land, and animals. This absorption can lead to many developmental disorders.
Handlers of undamaged, whole, or spent MCE's (Mercury-Containing Equipment) must be sure to follow strict standards regarding:
Response to Releases
and Management to Prevent Releases
If an item being handled shows any signs of breakage it must be contained in a specific container designed to prevent any further release of mercury into the environment.