ChemTracker Expands to Medical Center Campus

Building on the success of ChemTracker on the Morningside Campus, EH&S has made the program available to Medical Center laboratories on a voluntary basis.  The first lab to take us up on this was that of Dr. Anne Marie Schmidt of the Department of Surgery.  Safety Matters recently interviewed Dr. Schmidt’s laboratory manager, Mr. Phillip Camp, who cited many of the positives of this system. Please contact us if want to find out more about how ChemTracker can help manage your chemical inventory.

ChemTracker has been a great addition to our lab management. Not only does ChemTracker allow for the lab to reduce spending by having the most updated chemical lists, but it also reduces hazardous risks by having MSDS sheets readily available for new chemicals.  It has been much easier to track hazardous and flammable materials, as well as to organize them into distinct chemical categories. Whenever the government requires an inventory of certain chemicals, I am able to produce an accurate chemical list in a fraction of the time.” Philip


Don’t Get Stuck: Use Safer Sharps

Effective programs, including ours, can always benefit from cooperation with peer groups having similar functions.  The article below has been adopted from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey’s Newsletter BenchSmart and is used with their permission.  

Safer sharps are an important tool for working in the research environment.  These redesigned needles and scalpels reduce the risk of needle stick injuries for laboratory workers.  Since laboratory workers account for up to 21% of needle sticks, individuals should consider safer sharps alternatives whenever possible. Replacing glassware with plastic-ware is an easy alternative that many labs have already adopted.  Avoiding the use of needles is another solution.  If the use of sharps is required, select a specially designed safety device.

Many new safety devices are currently on the market, including:

  • Needleless systems
  • Needles that retract into the syringe barrel
  • Hinged or sliding shields that cover a needle or blade
  • Self-blunting needles

These safety sharps provide protection to workers by eliminating the need for a needle or blade, permanently isolating the sharp so it never poses a hazard, or by providing a method to encase the sharp after use.


Live animals bring an added safety risk to research making safe sharps especially important for researchers using animals. Safety devices can reduce this risk and protect workers from exposure to hazardous biological and chemical agents and drugs.  Pathogens, recombinant DNA, human cell lines and body fluids are among the materials upon which a high premium is placed on such exposure reduction  Safe sharps are required when potential exposure is to material covered by OSHA’s Bloodborne Pathogens Standard.

If you are using conventional sharps in your research consider the use of safer alternatives.  Most major suppliers like VWR, Fisher, and BD sell a variety of sharps with safety features. 

Eating/drinking in Laboratories…NOT

Columbia University’s laboratory safety policy prohibits eating, drinking, and food storage in laboratories that use Chemical, Biological, Radiological or any other hazardous materials. This policy is based on the potential for food/drink in the laboratory to become contaminated with subsequent ingestion associated with harmful effects. In the case of certain radioactive materials,
trace amounts can cause great harm; therefore all radiation regulatory agencies consider it a major violation if food/drink is found in a laboratory that uses radioactive materials.  Also consider that the effects of certain chemical exposures may be cumulative; ‘small’ unapparent exposures over time could add up until a threshold for adverse effects is reached –
every little bit (or bite) may ultimately hurt.

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