Clearing the Air: Respiratory Protection Enhancements by Rebecca Lonergan

What is a respirator? Do I need a respirator? I have a respirator, how do I maintain and store it? EH&S recently enhanced the University's Respiratory Protection Program website, available @ http://www.ehs.columbia.edu/RespiratoryProtectionProgram.html, to better guide individuals in answering these and other questions related to the University's Respiratory Protection Program.
Respiratory protection, like all Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), is the last line of defense in reducing or eliminating potential exposure. In order to properly and safely determine the need for respiratory protection, EH&S must conduct a hazard assessment for an area or specific process, reviewing alternative means of eliminating or reducing exposure to a potentially hazardous material. One recent program enhancement is the addition of a "Laboratory Hazard Assessment Form" available @ http://ehs.columbia.edu/LaboratoryHazardAssessmentForm.pdf. The form is intended for use by laboratory staff to request an assessment of a specific work practice or hazardous materials use, particularly where effective engineering controls, such as chemical fume hoods or biological safety cabinets, may not be feasible in eliminating or minimizing potential exposures.
In addition to the website enhancements, EH&S collaborated with Human Resources and New York Presbyterian Hospital's Workforce Health and Safety (WHS) at CUMC to streamline medical clearance and fit-testing for N-95 respirator users. WHS will now perform a respirator fit-test as part of the medical clearance process. Remember, employees must be fit-tested prior to initial use of a respirator and annually thereafter. Each year, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) designates September 5th as "N-95 Day." Now is a great time to "celebrate" by reaching out to EH&S @ occusafety@columbia.edu with any questions or concerns you may have regarding respirator use for your task or work area

Going Green with Solvent Recycling By Keith Bottum

Solvent recycling gives the University and its laboratories a unique chance to "Go Green" by reducing waste. EH&S has partnerships with several laboratories that are taking advantage of this opportunity. For instance, since 2008, the Chemistry Department has recycled 3,300 gallons of used solvents, which has saved them tens of thousands of dollars and shrunk the University's environmental footprint by reducing laboratory waste that would have otherwise been incinerated. An added benefit is that many solvents can be recycled multiple times before eventually requiring disposal, so the savings can really add up quickly.
EH&S is on a mission to help save even more and we need your help. With two solvent recyclers available at the Morningside campus, EH&S has the capacity to grow the solvent recycling program and is actively seeking new partners in laboratories in CEPSR, Engineering Terrace, Fairchild, Mudd, Northwest Corner, Pupin and Schermerhorn who generate waste
Acetone, Ethanol, Ethyl Acetate, Hexane and Xylene.

Participation in the program is easy. Simply collect your waste solvents, separate from all other chemical waste, in specially labeled containers provided by EH&S. We will then recycle and return to your laboratory the exact same solvent you gave to us in a purified and ready-to-reuse condition.
For more information regarding the solvent recycling program at Morningside please contact a hazmat@columbia.edu or visit: http://www.ehs.columbia.edu/SolventRecyclingBrochure.pdf

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