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Green Scene: DEHS Chemical Exchange Program

by Paul Hoza, environmental specialist, DEHS last modified Oct 24, 2013 08:17 AM

You have chemicals in your lab that you don’t need any longer but another lab at the university does.

The Department of Environmental Health and Safety has a way to help both of you: the DEHS Chemical Exchange Program.

DEHS knows that maintaining an adequate and usable quantity of lab chemicals can be challenging. The cost of purchasing chemicals continues to increase and, if chemical shelf life isn’t tracked closely, chemical disposal costs (not to mention hazards associated with expired chemicals) can quickly escalate and consume an increasingly larger part of a lab’s budget. Labs often buy larger quantities than needed, and then when an experiment or study is completed, these same labs are left with good chemicals no one needs.

CHEMEX encourages the borrowing and sharing of chemicals between labs. Chemicals that are unopened or partially used are eligible for the program. Opened chemical containers must be certified as uncontaminated and still usable (i.e., not expired) by the offeror. Chemicals also must:

  • be from university labs, clinics and other support centers;
  • be within its shelf-life period;
  • be in the original container (with container in good condition and with legible labels);
  • maintain integrity at ambient room temperature; and,
  • if opened, be certified by the offeror that it is unadulterated.

DEHS will review each chemical prior to acceptance and may request additional information (MSDS) as needed. However, not every chemical is eligible for CHEMEX.

These chemicals and/or items are NOT eligible for CHEMEX:

  • expired;
  • prepared formulations;
  • pharmaceutical products
  • cylinders, lecture bottles and dewars;
  • radioactive;
  • DEA-controlled substances;
  • infectious substances and select agents;
  • highly reactive chemicals (i.e air-reactive, potentially explosive, etc);
  • chemicals that require refrigeration or freezer, and
  • any chemical DEHS deems could pose a substantial health or safety risk.

To enter a chemical or item into the CHEMEX program, complete the submission form on the DEHS website. If DEHS approves the chemical (usually within seven to 10 days), it will transport the chemical to the “CHEMEX Chemicals” storage area at the Environmental Protection Service Center (EPSC) on Belknap Campus. Chemicals will be held for up to eight months, after which time they will be declared as waste and disposed of through the Hazardous Waste Program.

Before you decide to purchase a chemical, check the CHEMEX inventory. You could save yourself money, while doing your part to recycle/reuse, instead of costly disposal.

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