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Pollution Prevention Guideline for Academic Laboratories Prepared by: University of Rhode Island Kingston, Rhode Island Background Eliminate/minimize generation of unnecessary large quantities of biological/chemical waste on academic campuses

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Pollution Prevention Guideline for Academic Laboratories

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pollution prevention guideline for academic laboratories

Pollution Prevention Guideline forAcademic Laboratories

Prepared by:

University of Rhode Island

Kingston, Rhode Island

  • Eliminate/minimize generation of unnecessary large quantities of biological/chemical waste on academic campuses
example university pollution prevention guideline
Example: University Pollution Prevention Guideline
  • Objective of the Guideline

The purpose of this Laboratory Pollution Prevention Guideline is to present a methodology to evaluate alternatives to eliminate or reduce the generation of laboratory chemical/biological waste.

The methodology focuses on teaching laboratories, but the methodology is also suitable for research and development laboratory settings.

The guideline is just that - a methodology. It is the responsibility of the committee to evaluate the relevant factors (safety practices, regulations, policies) and determine how these factors must be considered in evaluating the various alternatives.

pollution prevention hierarchy
Pollution Prevention Hierarchy
  • The preferred approach is to eliminate or reduce the amount of waste generated

Source Elimination/Reduction

Substitution, microscale/scale down, alternative methods


Redistribution of unused raw materials, chemical recovery

  • The next option is to recycle, and/or recover the by-products for reuse

Treatment of By-Products

Neutralization, other methods

  • The third alternative is to treat the byproducts to make it less hazardous for disposal

Waste Disposal

Segregation, proper handling and disposal

  • The final option is to properly dispose the waste
six step laboratory pollution prevention methodology
Six-Step Laboratory Pollution Prevention Methodology
  • Select team, define objectives and strategy

1. Planning and Organization

  • Determine criteria to evaluate alternatives

2. Develop Evaluation Criteria

  • List the possible pollution prevention alternatives

3. Develop List of Alternatives

4. Screen Alternatives

  • Select alternative(s)
  • If necessary, quantitative evaluation of alternatives
  • Pilot test

5. Detailed Evaluation of Alternatives

  • Implementation and optimization

6. Implementation

planning and organization
Planning and Organization
  • Team selection
    • Knowledge of the experiment, regulatory requirements, availability of resources, cost, etc.
    • May consist of the Department Chair, Professors,Teaching Assistants, Laboratory Workers
  • Defining objectives
    • Selection of laboratory experiment
    • Ensure that the project team has been properly staffed
develop evaluation criteria
Develop Evaluation Criteria
  • Determine the criteria used to assess the alternative(s)
  • Some criteria to be considered:
    • Teaching objectives
      • Does the alternative alter the experiment’s teaching objectives significantly?
    • Raw material needed
      • Quantity and characteristics of the raw materials
    • Waste generated
      • Physical state, quantity and characteristics of the wastes
    • Cost
      • Equipment, chemicals, waste disposal, etc.
    • Ease of implementation
develop list of alternatives for evaluation
Develop List of Alternatives for Evaluation
  • Consider the applicability of the individual pollution prevention techniques following the USEPA hierarchy of preferred options
  • Develop alternatives using combinations of the viable techniques
  • The alternatives should include the current experiment or laboratory practice
screen alternatives
Screen Alternatives
  • Screen the alternatives to eliminate those that are not feasible for the University
  • Some preliminary information on each alternative will be needed
  • Screen using an evaluation matrix with the selected criteria
  • Select favorable alternatives
detailed evaluation of alternatives
Detailed Evaluation of Alternatives
  • Quantitative/Qualitative Detailed Evaluation
    • Not needed if only one alternative remains after the initial screening
    • Used as a fine tuning to determine which of the remaining alternatives might result in the most favorable for pollution prevention
  • Pilot Testing
    • Test alternative before its full implementation
  • Monitor the implemented alternative to ensure everything is implemented as intended
    • Keep track of the amount of waste generated
    • Record the reduction in either or both the waste generated and savings in waste disposal
  • If possible, optimize the implemented alternative
    • Keep informed on new techniques for pollution prevention
    • Periodically, update/modify implemented alternative
illustrative example

Illustrative Example

Pollution Prevention Guideline for Academic Laboratories

planning and organization19
Planning andOrganization
  • Determine objectives and strategy, e.g.:
  • Redesign experiments to me more “green”
  • Re-examine the laboratory experiments in a first-year course
  • Select experiments that either generate large amount of waste or use/generate hazardous substances
  • Select Team, e.g. :
  • Graduate Research Assistant
  • Chemistry Teaching Laboratory Manager
  • Suppport from: Department Chair, Dissertation Advisor
  • Selection examples: Two laboratory experiments were selected
    • Experiment A generated a large amount of chemical waste
    • Experiment B used and generated waste containing heavy metals and high volume of corrosive chemicals

Develop Evaluation Criteria and List of Alternatives

Evaluation Criteria

Educational value Safety risks

Input materials Waste materials

Cost Resources

Ease of implementation Others


For Experiment A

1. Chemical substitution

2. Microscale

3. Scale down

4. Alternatives 1 and 3

For Experiment B

1. Ag identification and recovery using ascorbic acid

2. Alternative method for Ag identification using KI


Screen Alternatives

Selected alternatives for A:

(i) Microscale experiment

(ii) Scale down and chemical substitution

Both are examples of Source Elimination/Reduction alternatives

Selected alternative for B:

(i) Ag identification and recovery using ascorbic acid

Example of a combination of Source Elimination/Reduction and Recycling/Reuse alternatives


Conduct Detailed Evaluation

  • Perform a detailed/quantitative evaluation was performed with the selected alternatives for Experiment A
    • For each alternative, each criterion was ranked from -2 (less favorable) to +2 (more favorable)
  • Results: Alternative for A: Chemical substitution and scale down
    • Benefits: Reduction in input materials, waste generation, and cost
  • Results: Alternative for B: Ag identification and recovery using ascorbic acid
    • Benefits: Use of a less toxic chemical for Ag identification Recovery of Ag

Pilot Testing and Implementation

  • Test each alternative (for A and B): Graduate Research Assistant, then one class section
  • Revise as needed, roll-out to full course
in summary
In Summary . . .
  • Pollution Prevention
    • Source Elimination/Reduction, Recycling/Reuse, Treatment, and Disposal
  • Laboratory Pollution Prevention Methodology
    • Planning and Organization, Evaluation Criteria, List of Alternatives, Screening of Alternatives, Detailed Evaluation of Alternatives, and Implementation
  • Successful implementation of the Guideline
    • Implementation of the new alternatives for pollution prevention

For more information: Rhode Island Center for Pollution Prevention

University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI 02881

(401) 874-2323 (voice) or (401) 874 - 4689 (fax)