ChemTracker’s Tracks Make Their Way by Rob Velez, Research Safety Specialist

University and made available by EH&S to Columbia researchers. For nearly a decade, the system has been used successfully at Morningside for management of the campus’ extensive laboratory chemical inventory. The program has numerous benefits, including its ability to provide a real-time view of a laboratory’s chemical collection, thus saving money by reducing redundant or excess ordering, as well as its “storage code” feature that allows a laboratory to easily track its flammable storage limits, manage chemical expiration dates and, with assistance from EH&S, use the storage codes to create a color-coded chemical segregation scheme. Each of these features help make the laboratory a safer place and maintain compliance with FDNY requirements.

Implementation of the program at Morningside was relatively simple, leveraging the campus’ two central receiving portals for incoming laboratory chemicals. Although CUMC does not have central receiving facilities for laboratory chemicals, several CUMC laboratories have successfully implemented the program to take advantage of its many benefits. Additionally, Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory recently implemented the program campus-wide.

If you would like assistance in setting up ChemTracker at a CUMC lab and/or implementing a color-coded chemical segregation system, please contact EH&S. More information is available online:

The Safe Use of Isoflurane by Rebecca Lonergan, Industrial Hygienist

In conjunction with a broader strategy to evaluate potential exposures to many regulated chemical substances during research operations, EH&S is conducting measurements of ambient concentrations of waste anesthetic gases, such as isoflurane, during research applications. Isoflurane is a halogenated hydrocarbon commonly used in animal research as an anesthetic. Overexposure to isoflurane may result in toxicity to humans. Exposure can occur in a variety of ways, but typically takes place as a result of:

  • Leaking, unsealed or poorly sealed anesthetic systems, for example, using nose cone/face masks that do not form a tight seal around the subject’s face
  • Active induction chamber use when opening the chamber to retrieve an induced subject

    Safe work practices can reduce or eliminate potential exposure and include ensuring the proper function of the vaporizer (e.g., tight-fitting hose connections) and use of proper engineering controls (e.g., chemical fume hoods, snorkel trunks, or negative pressure laminar flow hoods with activated carbon filtered exhaust chambers), to control fugitive vapor during procedures. Read more about the Safe Use of Isoflurane @ In addition to scheduled assessments, EH&S is available to evaluate potential exposures and perform evaluations of vaporizing apparatuses upon request. Requests may be placed by completing a Hazard Assessment Form @

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