Encouraging Toxic Use Reduction in Academic Laboratories

EPA Grant Number: SU831821
Title: Encouraging Toxic Use Reduction in Academic Laboratories
Investigators: Steinfeld, Jeffrey I. , Keith, Jamie Lewis , Silbey, Susan S.
Current Investigators: Steinfeld, Jeffrey I. , Bussey, Kendra , Keith, Jamie Lewis , Silbey, Susan S. , Tio, Jacqueline
Institution: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Phase: I
Project Period: September 30, 2004 through May 30, 2005
Project Amount: $10,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2004) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: P3 Challenge Area - Materials & Chemicals , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Awards , Sustainability


This project seeks to balance essential research with its associated environmental burdens by promoting the use of less toxic and less polluting alternatives to commonly used toxic chemicals. MIT seeks to use the purchasing process to provide researchers with the option of selecting such alternatives, thereby reducing the use of toxic chemicals in research and operations.

The innovative improved purchasing process will be included in a comprehensive Environmental, Health, and Safety (EHS) Management System. This System is intended to be a model for academic research institutions and should have far-reaching positive impacts on the environment in this country, and possibly around the globe.

The project will develop data on the amounts and types of chemicals purchased by research laboratories; survey users to determine the uses for which these materials are employed; use Green Chemistry data bases to identify less toxic and less polluting alternatives; and make this information readily available to users. A key component will be to identify the barriers to implementation and means of encouraging independent researchers to adopt these strategies. The results will be incorporated into MIT's model EHS Management System. Evaluation metrics will include ongoing monitoring of the amounts and types of hazardous waste requiring disposal.

By providing researchers with the information they need to choose less polluting options, and developing effective methods for reducing the volume of toxic chemicals used in academic laboratories, environmental burdens and disposal costs will be reduced and the safety of laboratory personnel will be enhanced. Furthermore, since academic institutions such as MIT train future scientists, engineers, and research administrators, experience with the proposed system will become part of the students' educational experience and will influence their decisions in their future professional activities. Structured educational activities, including seminars, on-line training modules, and presentations at community and international forums, will extend the influence of this project in academic research institutions.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 3 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

chemicals, toxics, toxic substances; pollution prevention (green chemistry), alternatives, waste reduction, waste minimization, decision making., RFA, Scientific Discipline, INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION, Sustainable Industry/Business, POLLUTION PREVENTION, Sustainable Environment, waste reduction, Environmental Chemistry, cleaner production/pollution prevention, Technology for Sustainable Environment, Waste, Analytical Chemistry, Economics and Business, Chemicals Management, academic laboratories, cleaner production, waste minimization, toxic use reduction, alternative materials, hazardous waste, source reduction, environmentally-friendly chemical synthesis

Relevant Websites:

Phase 2 Abstract

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report
  • P3 Phase II:

    Encouraging Toxic use Reduction in Academic Laboratories