Improper storage of chemicals can pose many different hazards. Recently, EH&RS/EH&S responded to a report of an acid spill in a storage room. Users of the room had stockpiled over 30 gallons (a year’s supply!) of chromic-sulfuric acid glassware cleaning agent. To save space, the bottles, inside their Styrofoam-lined cardboard boxes, were stacked on top of one another lying on their sides. The highly corrosive material ate through the caps of several of the bottles, causing the contents to leak out. The resulting contamination rendered the entire ($4,000) stock of acid unusable, generated 1,100 pounds of chemical waste (removal cost, $2,700), and caused significant damage to the floor of the room.
A few lessons learned to prevent future incidents of this type:
Finally, consider safer alternatives to hazardous products. In many cases, enzymatic detergents can be substituted for acid-based cleansers to ensure ultra-clean glassware. For more information on safe chemical storage, please visit: http://www.ehrs.columbia.edu/ChemStorage.html.
Hazardous waste pickup requests are available via the EH&RS/EH&S website at: http://www.ehrs.columbia.edu/indexMC.html just click on your campus and then select the “Forms” menu. For the LDEO campus, please submit and email firstname.lastname@example.org. For the Nevis campus, please contact the Morningside EH&RS/EH&S office at 212-854-8749.
To reduce disposal cost and reduce the need for new landfill sites, we recycle unbroken, empty, and clean chemical containers. Containers must be rinsed and their labels defaced before deposit in the yellow bins. Otherwise, the Department of Sanitation will not collect them. Containers that held highly toxic, water reactive or pyrophoric materials can not be recycled and must be disposed through EH&RS/EH&S; the same restriction applies to any extremely malodorous materials. Remember, every little effort is part of the bigger overall picture.
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