BC in Pilot Program to Test New Ways of Handling Laboratory Waste

BC in Pilot Program to Test New Ways of Handling Laboratory Waste

By Michael Seele
Chronicle Editor

Boston College is spearheading a new initiative that promises to enhance scientific research while protecting the environment from laboratory wastes.

On Tuesday, BC joined with the University of Vermont and the University of Massachusetts-Boston in a pilot program approved by the Environmental Protection Agency. Representatives from the institutions, the EPA, the state, and other organizations gathered in the Burns Library Thompson Room to sign the agreement, which takes effect in six months.

According to Environmental Health and Safety Director Suzanne Howard, the agreement is the result of a three-year effort aimed at tailoring hazardous waste regulations to suit the use of university researchers. The new regulatory model was developed by the Laboratory Consortium for Environmental Excellence, a group of academic institutions - including BC - organized to address environmental management issues in laboratories. If it is successful, the rules affecting waste handling at research labs across the country could be rewritten, said Howard.

Under current laws, universities must comply with regulations that apply to industry, even though research labs generate much less waste.

"We are delighted to be part of this initiative," Howard said. "We believe it will benefit the quality of scientific research, while at the same time enhancing our efforts to protect the environment.

"One of the goals of this new system will be to reduce the amount of waste being generated, while giving researchers a little more flexibility and reducing the costs associated with waste disposal," said Howard. "Our hope is that it will produce a more effective program for managing chemicals in the labs."

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