Are You Ready for the DEA? by Kevin McGhee – Biological Safety Program

Controlled substances, which are heavily regulated by the government due to their potential for abuse, are a valuable tool for many researchers, in particular for those conducting research in animal models. While the use of controlled substances is fairly commonplace, careful attention must be given to regulatory compliance when acquiring, possessing, using, or disposing of these materials.

Regulatory oversight of controlled substance use rests jointly with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) on the federal level and locally with the NY State Department of Health (DOH). Recently, several Columbia investigators have been subject to random, unannounced compliance inspections by the DEA, a practice that EH&S expects to continue.

To prepare your laboratory for an unannounced compliance inspection, please review the University's Policy for the Acquisition, Use and Disposal of Controlled Substances in Research. This policy, along with many other useful resources and reference documents, can be found on the controlled substances webpage: A primary focus of these DEA inspections has been on proper recordkeeping. Templates developed by EH&S have been extensively vetted and when properly completed, have been favorably accepted by regulators. Laboratories using controlled substances in research are required to complete a Receipt Log, Use Log and Biennial Inventory, which is available on the EH&S website.

EH&S is available to provide consultation to any laboratories using controlled substances in research (contact

Radioactive Waste Mis-management by Lauren Kelly – Hazardous Materials Program

Recently, while completing regular waste pick-up rounds, an EH&S team member was splashed with an unknown liquid that was inappropriately discarded in a 1 gallon "sharps" container. It was later determined the liquid contained 0.04 microcuries of 35S, a radioactive isotope. Thankfully, the safety professional was wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (including a coat, gloves and safety glasses) so that exposed skin covered preventing bodily contamination.

To prevent future occurrences and avoid unnecessary injuries to you, your colleagues and EH&S personnel who handle your waste, always wear appropriate personal protective equipment when working with or around hazardous materials … ppe.html and always manage laboratory waste in accordance with University policies for radioactive, chemical and regulated medical wastes … WasteMgt.html. Proper waste management includes using only an appropriate collection container for your laboratory's wastes, and labeling all waste collection containers appropriately with the contents (including the chemical name).

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