The best protection from respiratory hazards is through elimination of personal exposure by use of engineering controls (fume hoods, biological safety cabinets) and appropriate work practices.  Respirators, like any other item of personnel protective equipment are considered a ‘last line of defense’, and their use is only allowed when the other control methods may not be effective.   

OSHA requires that any institution issuing respirators to its employees develop a comprehensive Respiratory Protection Plan that includes hazard assessment, medical clearance, criteria for selection among the different types
of respirators, and training and fit testing for users.  The vast majority of airborne hazards in laboratories and other Columbia settings can safely be managed through engineering controls and other practices; if you have reason to believe that this is not the case for your activities, contact EH&RS/EH&S; do not take it upon yourself to select and use a respirator.

Safe Disposal of Smoke Detectors

Ionization smoke detectors are more sensitive than the conventional photoelectric detectors sold for use in the home.  They emit a stream of alpha particles from Americium-241 into the space between oppositely charged circular metal plates.  Under normal conditions, the alpha particles ionize the air between the plates, creating a steady electric current.  The alarm will sound when smoke reaches the space and lowers the current.  The amount of Americium-241 in each detector is small (1-5 microcuries) and the external exposure is of no health concern; however contamination may occur if the source is tampered with. Therefore, it is important that you contact the radiation safety office immediately if you need to dispose of such a smoke detector. EH&RS/EH&S will facilitate the return of the detector to the manufacturer for recycling or disposal.


It’s not too late for Influenza Immunization

This season’s influenza incidence is expected to peak in February, leaving ample time for vaccination if you have not already done so. Immunizations are available at no cost to:

  • Medical Center Faculty & Staff may visit the Occupational Health Service, Harkness Pavilion 1 South. Flu Shots are avai able Monday-Wednesday and on Friday, 8:00 am - 4:00 pm; Thursday from 8 am-2 pm. Bring your medical center ID badge with you. 
  • Medical Center Students, enrolled in the Student Health Services Program, can go to SHS at 60 Haven, Monday-Thursday, 8AM-7PM.
  • Morningside Students, Faculty and Staff, may visit the Student Health Services, can go to John Jay Hall. The vaccine will be available at a number of different sites, for the schedule, access

EH&RS/EH&S Welcomes Kevin McGhee

EH&RS/EH&S welcome Kevin McGhee, Laboratory Safety Officer, to the team.  Kevin worked in the Department  of Surgery at the Medical Center campus overseeing laboratory safety for the Division of Surgical Science within the department of Surgery.  He will be addressing safety issues at the Morningside campus in Biological Science and SEAS laboratories .  Kevin can be reached at; or direct phone number, 212-854-1687. 



Environmental Health & Radiation Safety /Environmental Health & Safety


Medical Center
630 West 168th Street, Mailbox #8
New York, NY  10032
Phone:  (212) 305-6780

Morningside Campus
S.W. Mudd Building, Suite 350
New York, NY  10027
Phone:  (212) 854-8749

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