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Laboratory Pollution Prevention (P2)

by Helen Miller

Did you know that many of the same P2 and waste minimization strategies used in industry can be applied to laboratories? Labs can be found at businesses (for quality control), schools, hospitals and commercial testing facilities. These labs generate many types of hazardous waste. This article outlines some P2 opportunities and provides links to Internet resources to help reduce lab waste.

What is the biggest lab-generated hazardous waste stream?

According to the American Chemical Society (ACS), unused chemicals make up more than 40 percent of the hazardous waste generated by labs. Unused chemicals are costly for labs because they:

  • cause labs to analyze unknowns;

  • require storage, packaging, transportation and disposal; and

  • increase the risk of accidents by long-term storage.

How can you reduce lab waste?

Buy only the chemicals you will use.

Some buyers select larger packages assuming they save money. However, buying larger packages may:

  • result in partially used containers that degrade, expire or become unstable;

  • take up more space and require more maintenance; and

  • increase the risk of fire, explosion and personnel exposure to the chemical.

continued on page 2...

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