Morningside Lab Equipment Disposal


Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) and Facilities Operations have teamed up at the Morningside campus to provide open drop-off hours at the Grove on Wednesdays from 10 AM to 2 PM. During this time and at no cost, personnel may bring down “cleared” laboratory equipment and furniture to the dumpsters for disposal. All lab equipment must first be cleared by EH&S before disposal or handling by anyone outside the lab. For more information about the equipment clearance process, visit http://ehs.columbia.edu/LabEquipClearance.html.

Is There any Way to Top an HPLC?

High Performance (Pressure)    Liquid Chromatography uses     effluents with varying polarities as carriers for organic compounds in samples being analyzed.  The resulting effluents are typically a mixture of water and some common solvents: acetone, acetonitrile, methanol, and/or   hexane.  These ignitable effluents are considered hazardous wastes and must be managed in accordance with the “5 L’s of Hazardous Waste Management” (see previous article), even while the effluent container is still connected to the HPLC.  This means the container must bear a label, identifying the specific solvents and the lid must be kept securely closed. 

Since HPLC effluent is directly deposited into the waste container via attached tubing, there are a few methods to ensure that the lid is tightly sealed (leak-proof if overturned).  One option is to purchase a waste disposal container from the HPLC manufacturer or other laboratory equipment supplier.  These containers are made specifically to address the “closed container” requirements of the hazardous waste regulations; the tubing ports are built directly into the container cap to allow for a tight connection.  Alternatively, rubber stoppers built to similar specifications can be purchased.  One of the least expensive options is to drill one or more holes, depending on the HPLC set-up, into the cap of the effluent container.  EH&S recommends a small bead of silicone to seal the penetration after the tubing is inserted through the cap to ensure a good seal.  Whichever option you choose, the caps can then remain attached to the equipment and the waste container can be closed with a spare, solid cap while awaiting disposal by EH&S. 

If you need help setting up your HPLC effluent container (or any other laboratory equipment with effluent tubing) to ensure it will pass EPA muster, or if you simply need some help drilling holes in your container caps, please contact EH&S.

Emergency Preparedness


An important component of research safety is preparedness in the event of an accident to minimize its impact and enable the resumption of normal activities as soon as possible.  Think of how many articles you’ve seen in Safety Matters concerning spill kits, emergency contacts, and fire extinguisher use, to name a few preparedness topics.  This  concept does not stop at the laboratory door.  Living in the New York City area, we are subject to both natural (snowstorms, hurricanes) and man-made (fires, blackouts) occurrences that will force us to confront the question: ARE YOU PREPARED? 
An informative starting point is the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s web site, http://www.nyc.gov/html/oem/html/ready/household_guide.shtml
Beginning with how-to essentials (go-bags, disaster plans, emergency supplies), the guide goes into specific response situations related to the natural and man made crises that we may face.  Take a quick look and remember that it is too late to prepare when it is time to act.

Additional Appreciation-Environment-al Audit

Working with an independent consultant, EH&S recently completed its all-campus triennial audit of the University’s Hazardous Waste Programs. We are pleased to report that CU ranked in the highest echelon of compliance for similar institutions.  EH&S thanks the members of the University with whom we and the auditors interacted, particularly laboratory staff and campus  Facilities groups.  In addition to facilitating the process, they are largely responsible for the overwhelmingly positive audit results. 

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