Heavy Metal

Not Metallica or Ozzy or Marilyn Manson. We’re talking about the elemental metal, silver -- not noise-induced hearing loss metal. EH&RS/EH&S is particularly interested in the silver generated from film and photo processing            operations.  Although most of us view silver as a precious metal, the EPA regulates it as an environmental pollutant and a Hazardous Waste.  In accordance with the agency’s regulations Columbia operates a Silver Recovery Program designed to keep silver out of our wastewater and landfills. The program is simple, hands-free for the user, and is
initiated when a laboratory informs EH&RS/EH&S that they intend to perform film or photo processing.  EH&RS/EH&S provides and maintains, at no cost to the  laboratory, a metallic recovery unit (MRC) for each effluent fixer line. During processing, silver is removed from the film in the fixer solution revealing the image of the photo. The silver-rich fixer solution is discharged from the processor into the MRC. Inside the MRC is steel wool which  contains iron; in an ion exchange reaction, the silver replaces the iron in the steel wool. Once the silver is
exchanged in the MRC, the remaining fluid, known as iron media, is safe for discharge.  The MRC works with gravity and has no mechanical parts.  The MRC WILL NOT interfere with the operation of the processing equipment.  However, it needs to be tested and typically replaced every 3 months. This service is part of the Silver Recovery Program provided through EH&RS/EH&S. 

If your photo processor backs up or clogs, please contact the manufacturer for repair and ensure that the service provider reinstalls the MRC after repairs are complete.  To maintain the integrity of the MRC, EH&RS/EH&S has outfitted the dark rooms with “Dark Room Log Sheets”.  They must be completed prior to each use and are audited quarterly by EH&RS/EH&S.   Now that we’ve covered the environmental aspect of silver, let’s get back to the precious metal value that we are all much more familiar with.  Currently, silver is trading at about $14.00 per ounce.  CU collects approximately 5.5 pounds per annum and uses the credit to offset a portion of the Silver Recovery Program’s costs…no more money down the drain, as they say. 
For more information or to download a dark room log sheet, visit our website:

Irradiation Anyone?

A Cesium-137 irradiator that delivers 700 Rad/minute in a uniform fashion is available for research purposes to University personnel.  The samples can vary from microorganisms to fruit flies or from simple chemical compounds to polymers. The sample should fit in a cylinder
3 inches in diameter and 7 inches high. If you would like to utilize this service free of charge or have any questions, please contact the Radiation Safety Officer for  details: (gh81@columbia.edu). 


Another important component of the Chemical Tracking System (CTS)


is CTS’s ability to reconcile incoming chemicals with discarded empty containers.  A recent audit at Morningside revealed that many empty chemical containers were not scanned out, likely because they were not discarded in the yellow bins.  Please help the CTS inventory work and ensure ALL empty chemical containers are discarded in the yellow bins located on each floor.

EH&RS/EH&S Welcomes New staff members

Terrence “Jai” Jaimungal, Industrial Hygienist, 854-2213,  tsj2107@columbia.edu
James Kaznosky, Environmental Safety Officer, 305-6780, jk852@columbia.edu
Ilona Szigethy, Laboratory Safety Officer @ CUMC, 305-6780, is2300@columbia.edu



Environmental Health & Radiation Safety /Environmental Health & Safety


Medical Center
630 West 168th Street, Mailbox #8
New York, NY  10032
Phone:  (212) 305-6780
E-mail: ehs-safety@columbia.edu
Website:  http://www.ehrs.columbia.edu

Morningside Campus
S.W. Mudd Building, Suite 350
New York, NY  10027
Phone:  (212) 854-8749
E-mail: ehrs@columbia.edu
Website:  http://www.ehrs.columbia.edu

Page 4

Page 1 | Page 2 | Page 3 | Page 4

Go to Top
Go to EH&RS/ EH&S Home Page