Existing stocks of outdated, unknown, excessive, or unnecessarily hazardous chemicals are present in many schools. These chemicals can pose safety and health risks to students and staff, and a number of widely reported incidents involving such chemicals have resulted in school closures and costly clean-ups. In some cases, bomb squads have been called in to remove shock sensitive chemicals from schools.
Identifying and removing these chemicals from schools is a key step in preventing accidents. Once a school has removed its unnecessary chemical hazards and good purchasing and management practices are in place, periodic cleanouts can be a final touch in ensuring a chemically safe school environment. It is important that chemical inventories be conducted prior to cleaning out chemicals from schools. All chemical inventories and cleanouts should only be undertaken by those with the technical qualifications to identify potential dangerous situations and properly handle the chemicals.
Featured Chemical Cleanout Resources:
Healthy School Environments Assessment Tool (HealthySEAT)
HealthySEAT is a new software tool from EPA designed to help school districts conduct voluntary, customized self-assessments of their school facilities for environmental, health, and safety hazards.
Source: EPA - Office of Air and Radiation - Indoor Environments Division
PCBs in Building Caulk
In recent years, EPA has learned that caulk containing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) was used in some buildings, including schools, in the 1950s through the 1970s. Buildings built after 1980 are less likely to contain caulk that contains PCBs.
Caulk is a flexible material used to seal gaps to make windows, masonry and joints in buildings and other structures watertight or airtight. EPA does not have information on the extent of the use of PCB-containing caulk or whether it was primarily used in certain geographic areas. To date it has been found in buildings in the northeastern United States and in joints in concrete water storage basins in the western United States.
Source: EPA - Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics
Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection Improving Environmental Conditions in MA Schools
This website provides links to a variety of web resources that address how to improve the school environment. Topics such as facilities management (including a wide range of environmental, health and safety issues), hazardous waste site impacts on schools, transportation, and waste reduction and recycling are addressed.
Source: Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection
Environmental Compliance and Best Management Practices Guidance Manual
This comprehensive environmental manual is available on-line in both English and Spanish.
Source: EPA - Region 2
Environmental Health and Safety in the Arts
This environmental health and safety manual covers art education and production. This manual is available on-line in both English and Spanish.
Source: EPA - Region 2
Reducing Pesticide Exposure at Schools
This September 2007 publication from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and health explains how exposures and potential health risks to children and school staff can be reduced by avoiding routine pesticide applications through an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program.
Source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Cleaning for Healthy Schools Toolkit
Free online toolkit developed, peer-reviewed, field-tested in ten states, and sponsored by the Collaborative on Green Cleaning in Schools.
Source: Green Cleaning for Healthy Schools
Underground Storage Tanks: Inspection Checklists
This checklists covers regulations issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under 40 CFR 280. The purpose of these regulations is to reduce the likelihood of leaks of hazardous substances from these tanks into soil and ground water and to ensure timely detection and abatement of such releases.
Source: EPA - Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response
EPA Mercury Website
This mercury site provides a broad range of information: actions by EPA and others, including international actions; effects on people and the environment; and how to protect you and your family.
Source: EPA - Office of Solid Waste - Office of Solid Waste
Safe Lab: School Chemistry Laboratory Safety Guide
The document provides teachers, and ultimately their students, with information
so that they can take the appropriate precautionary actions in order to prevent or minimize hazards, harmful exposures, and injuries in the laboratory.
Source: Consumer Product Safety Commission & NIOSH
Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools Walkthrough Video Assessment
This is a streaming-video module directed towards schools in city environments. The purpose is to help people identify potential indoor air quality problems and how to correct them. Based on EPA's Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools Program.
Source: Rutgers University
LEED for Schools
The LEED for Schools Rating System recognizes the unique nature of the design and construction of K-12 schools. Based on the LEED for New Construction rating system, it addresses issues such as classroom acoustics, master planning, mold prevention and environmental site assessment.
Source: U.S. Green Building Council
Montana Department of Environmental Quality School Labs Website
Montana DEQ's website provides information to help schools evaluate their chemical management (including safety procedures for conducting inventories, a suggested chemical inventory list, information about historical trainings held in the state, and photos illustrating poor chemical management). Results of a 2004 statewide inventory are also posted on this site.
Source: Montana Department of Environmental Quality
Mercury Assesment for Schools & Communities
This checklist is designed to assist in identifying and locating mercury-containing products and equipment in schools. These products are typically found in the following areas: Science Labs, Facilities, Medical Offices, Home Economics and Art Classrooms.
Source: The Northeast Waste Management Officials' Association (NEWMOA)
Schools Chemical Cleanout Campaign
Every year, hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent on school incidents involving chemicals such as spills and fires. These incidents involve potentially dangerous chemicals which, in some cases, had been unused for more than thirty years. In addition to financial costs, these spills may also cause school closures that result in a loss of valuable education time. The Schools Chemical Cleanout Campaign (SC3) seeks to address this issue by not only cleaning out excess, legacy, unused, and improperly stored chemicals but also by going a step further and implementing preventive mechanisms in schools.
Source: EPA-Office of Solid Waste
Washington -- Rehab The Lab Local Hazardous Waste Management Program in King County, Washington
Rehab The Lab is a free service to King County Schools to help them manage their hazardous chemicals. A site user can download fully scripted lesson plans for least-toxic chemistry labs, information on ways to reduce chemical stockpiles in biology labs, and a list of chemicals whose risks outweigh their educational utility. The program's long-term objectives include improving schools' chemical storage practices, reducing their hazardous
waste generation rates and helping them incorporate practices and lesson plans that will reduce their chemical liabilities.
Source: Washington - King County Department of Natural Resources - Local Hazardous Waste Management
Kansas School Laboratory Chemical Waste Disposal Program
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment has produced a Waste Chemical Disposal Guidance For Schools. This document is meant to assist those responsible for administering or improving waste management programs at local schools throughout Kansas. This document provides information regarding non-hazardous and hazardous waste, but does not prescribe in detail all required factors and considerations for this management.
Source: Kansad Department of Health & Environment - Bureau of Waste Management - Bureau of Waste Management
Tennessee School Lab Chemical Cleanout Campaign
The primary goals of the TN progam are to remove potentially dangerous chemicals from schools, while educating teachers and students about proper chemical management, lab safety, greener teaching options, and chemical waste disposal. This is a two-year program, funded largely by the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
Source: Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation's Division of Community Assistance - Tennessee Pollution Prevention Partnership
California - Los Angeles Unified School District Product Review Database
Searchable database of over 5,000 products evaluated by the LAUSD Office of Environmental Health and Safety to determine their suitability for use in and around Los Angeles schools.
Source: Los Angeles Unified School District - Office of Environmental Health & Safety
Maine Schools - Mercury and Chemical Clean Out Project
This website describes the ME DEP's 2003 program to reduce mercury and hazardous wastes in schools. Key documents used in this effort, such as a participation agreement, guidelines for conducting a chemical inventory, and spreadsheet for recording chemical inventory are included.
Source: Maine Department of Environmental Protection
Illinois EPA Green Schools Checklist: Environmental Actions for Schools to Consider
This web site provides environmental improvement strategies for addressing: energy usage, solid waste generation, indoor air quality, pest management, mold growth, water consumption, laboratory waste, building renovation and purchasing in schools.
Source: Illinois Environmental Protection Agency - Office of Pollution Prevention
New Hampshire Pollution Prevention in Schools Project
New Hampshire's Department of Environmental Services/Pollution Prevention Program has been providing outreach to NH schools re: proper chemical management. This web site provides information about that program, and provides links to fact sheets on topics such as laboratory chemical management and guidance on eliminating mercury from schools.
Source: New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services - Pollution Prevention Program
Colorado Guidance on Chemical Management in Schools
Guidance documents were mailed to Colorado schools in August 1999, addressing chemical management issues in schools with a focus on potentially unstable laboratory chemicals. This web site has information on how to conduct a chemical inventory, a list of common hazards (including top 40 chemicals that have found to be a problem in schools, and 100 most commonly found explosive and shock sensitive materials), a self-assessment tool, and information about hazardous waste vendors.
Source: Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment - Consumer Protection Division
Connecticut Mercury Education and Reduction - School Lab Cleanout Program
This website provides access to information about mercury reduction and education efforts in the state of Connecticut. Posted is a report detailing CT DEP's 2002-2003 School Lab Cleanout Program, which assisted 37 schools, at a cost of $160,000.
Source: Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection - Bureau of Waste Management
Massachusetts --A Case Study of Environmental, Health, and Safety Issues Involving the Burlington Massachusetts Public School System
This Web site provides a case study of Environmental, Health, and Safety issues in the Burlington, MA public school system.
Source: EPA Region 7 - Burlington Board of Health
EPA Region 7: Chemical Management and Usage
Proper chemical management is critical to preventing and/or controlling a variety of Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) issues within any facility. Understanding the materials present at the school will enable you to understand the issues associated with these substances. Properly recognizing and controlling the hazards inherent to these materials will enhance your ability to create a safe school with minimal environmental liabilities.
Source: EPA Region 7- Burlington Board of Health
New York State Guidelines for Green Cleaning Products
Guidelines and specifications for the procurement and use of environmentally sensitive cleaning and maintenance products for all public and nonpublic elementary and secondary schools in New York State.
Source: New York State Office of General Services - Environmental Services Unit
EPA Chemical Emergency Preparedness and Prevention
The Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) establishes requirements for Federal, State and local governments, Indian Tribes, and industry regarding emergency planning and Community Right-to-Know reporting on hazardous and toxic chemicals. The Community Right-to-Know provisions help increase the public's knowledge and access to information on chemicals at individual facilities, their uses, and releases into the environment. States and communities, working with facilities, can use the information to improve chemical safety and protect public health and the environment.
Source: EPA Chemical Emergency Preparedness & Prevention - Chemical Emergency Preparedness & Prevention (CEPPO)
Illinois -- Greening Schools
Greening Schools offers FREE technical assistance, workshops for teachers, administrators and facility managers, and on-line resources related to pollution prevention for all Illinois schools.
Source: Illinois Waste Management and Research Center
Vermont Mercury Education & Reduction Campaign - School Science Lab Chemical and Mercury Cleanout Project
This Web site describes how schools can be assisted with inventory and clean-out of unwanted, unlabeled, and unknown hazardous lab chemicals, including mercury and mercury compounds.
Source: Vermont Agency of Natural Resources - Hazardous Materials