Columbia University Guidelines for Short-term Visitors in Research-related Activities by Tasha Hightower
Columbia University has revised its guidelines for visitors involved in research-related activities.  As spring and summer breaks approach, EH&S would like to remind the research community about the University’s policy regarding the presence of minors in laboratories.  The policy still includes special provisions for minors, defined as individuals less than eighteen years of age, performing research-related activities in University laboratories (as opposed to being present during a tour for strictly observational purposes).  These provisions include:

  • A Registration Form and a Parental Consent Form, signed by a parent or guardian of the minor volunteer or observer, prior to them performing any research related activities. 
  • No one under the age of fourteen is allowed in any University laboratory (except if present on an organized tour or field trip for strictly observational purposes, provided hazards are minimized).
  • Provided there is direct supervision by the principle investigator, minors between ages 14 and 17 may perform certain research-related activities in lab, so long as they have completed applicable safety training.  
  • No one under the age of eighteen is allowed to be alone in a laboratory.
  • No one under the age of eighteen may handle human blood, human cell lines or any other material defined as “other potentially infectious materials” by OSHA (Bloodborne Pathogens Standard 29 CFR 1910.1030).
  • No one under the age of eighteen may handle radioactive materials.
  • No one under the age of eighteen may work with animals.

Visit the Office of the Executive Vice President for Research website for the full text of the policy…

A Little DAB Will Do You by Courtney Drayer

3,3'-Daminobenzadine tetrahydrochloride (DAB) is an organic molecule that is oxidized by hydrogen peroxide in the presence of hemoglobin to produce a dark brown color that histologists can use to stain nucleic acids and proteins. DAB comes from a class of molecules (benzadines) which are known carcinogens. In fact, all benzadines that have been studied have been determined to have mutagenic properties by the US National Toxicology Program.  Interestingly, neither the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) nor the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC) specifically regulates DAB waste.  Nonetheless drain disposal of these materials is not appropriate.  

In New York City, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), governs and enforces the Rules of the City of New York (RCNY), which includes the regulation for "Materials and Substances Excluded from Public Sewers" found in Title 15, Chapter 19-03. This chapter describes materials not permitted to be discharged down the drain and states: “Toxic substances in such quantities, which the person knows or has reason to know, may when discharged from a single source or in combination with other sources; (iii) be detrimental to the health of human beings, animals, or aquatic life” are prohibited from sewer disposal. 

Since benzadines are known carcinogens, they are thus detrimental to the health of humans and animals and are prohibited from drain disposal. Columbia University’s Policy on the Drain Disposal of Chemicals, which prohibits essentially all chemicals from being disposed of via sewer, is largely based on DEP’s regulation, as well as various EPA and DEC rules.  Accordingly, DAB, regardless of quantity or concentration, must be collected as hazardous waste for off-site treatment, and ultimate disposal as a toxic material.

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