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Chemical Reduction at Parsons Meets 10 Percent Goal Ahead of Schedule

By Jody Record, Campus Journal Editor
July 22, 2009

When the Parsons Hall chemical minimization project began on July 1, 2008, there were close to 20,000 chemicals on hand for research or teaching purposes. The aim was to reduce the existing inventory by 10 percent. A year later, that target has been met.

With that target met and another two years to go, the goal has been bumped up to 20 percent.

So far, 46 containers of peroxide-forming compounds and 2,600 containers of laboratory-grade chemicals have been removed. Peroxide-forming compounds can explode under certain conditions.

“Laboratories are filled with potentially hazardous chemicals and if the unneeded ones are taken away, it reduces the likelihood of a spill which could have an adverse effect on human health or the environment,” says David Gillum, assistant director of the Office of Environmental Health and Safety.

The joint project of the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences, the Office of Research, and the Office of Environmental Health and Safety is working to remove chemicals that are no longer needed before the renovation of Parson Hall begins in 2011.
Parsons is the single largest home to chemicals on campus.

“It’s always the right thing to do, to reduce the amount of hazardous materials we have,” says Marty McCrone, UNH’s hazardous waste coordinator. “Primarily, it’s a health and safety issue. We have an agenda to help reduce liability.”

Researchers are in the process of identifying chemicals they want to keep, those that will be moved to a new location, and those that will be eliminated.

The majority of the 2,600 containers removed thus far were from the chemistry department, with a small number from the material sciences department.

“This gives faculty the chance to look at and assess the chemicals for possible future use,” says Cindi Rohwer, administrative manager of the chemistry department.

About 16 faculty members from chemistry and material sciences are involved with the project.

The Office of Environmental Health and Safety uses the UNH Chemical Environmental Management System (UNHCEMS™) to barcode and keep track of the number, volume, and location of chemicals on campus. The barcodes are entered into the system and, periodically, the Office of Environmental Health and Safety rescans all chemicals on campus to ensure the inventory is up-to-date.


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