Lab Cleanout

Principal Investigators at Louisiana State University are responsible for the safe operation of their laboratories. This includes leaving all assigned areas in a clean and safe condition when vacated. This will reduce the number of unwanted and unknown hazardous materials in the laboratories and reduce waste disposal costs.

The Environmental Health and Safety Department was recently called in to clean out the lab of a professor who had left several years before. A new researcher wanted to take over the lab but he found many chemicals had been left behind. Unfortunately we found a rusted diethyl ether can in the refrigerator that may have been over 30 years old. Ethers are peroxide formers that, over time, generate levels of peroxides that can explode from heat, light, friction, or shock. This situation placed LSU employees in grave danger. It was preventable and it was unacceptable.

To ensure that hazardous materials are not left behind, the EH&S Department requests that Principal Investigators comply with the following procedures.

Steps to follow in the event of a lab cleanout:

1.     Notify the Environmental Health and Safety Department upon determination of an evacuation date, to coordinate material handling and disposal of hazardous waste. ( or 8-5640)

2.     The EH&S Department personnel will meet with a laboratory representative and will assess the quantities and hazards associated with the cleanout.

3.     All unmarked or unclearly labeled containers must be labeled as soon as they are located. This includes deciphering complicated chemical structures as well as listing complete chemical names if only acronyms or abbreviations are on the container. If true unknown materials remain, isolate them for identification during waste removal.

4.     Chemicals in open containers, beakers, or flasks will need to be placed in labeled, sealed containers compatible with the chemical.

5.     The laboratory representative, together with Jerry Steward of the EH&S Department, will designate any usable chemicals for the Chemical Redistribution Program. With the OnSite Chemical Inventory System, Mr. Steward can quickly use the laboratory’s current inventory to create a list. This list of available, free chemicals will then be accessible to all University research labs.

6.     Hazardous waste and any chemicals not transferred to other labs will need to be disposed of through EH&S. No chemicals should be disposed of in the drain or sewer, by evaporation, or by regular trash. Waste mixtures and material not in its original container will need EH&S Waste labels. Unused or unopened material, in its original container, will not need additional labeling. An inventory of the items for disposal is required. The OnSite Chemical Inventory System can create a list if the inventory for the lab has been kept current in the system.

7.     EH&S will assist in planning for the handling and disposal of any high hazard materials that have been identified during the chemical disposal process. This could include highly reactive, shock sensitive, temperature sensitive, or highly toxic.

8.     Contact EH&S for disposal of any Biological Materials and contact Radiation Safety for disposal of any Radioactive Materials. Separate Biological and Radioactive Materials from other wastes.

9.     Please be sure to remove items from any shared storage units such as refrigerators, cold rooms, or stock rooms.

10.  Arrange for all gas cylinders to be picked up by University Stores. Ensure that all cylinders are labeled with their contents, concentrations, hazards, and precautions. Report any cylinders not eligible for return to EH&S.

11.  Clean all work surfaces, lab equipment, fume hoods, cabinets, drawers, shelves, storage cabinets, and floors to ensure they are free of hazardous materials.

12.  Clean all refrigerators and freezers. Contact University Surplus for removal if necessary.

Any problems resulting from improper management of hazardous materials at a lab closeout will be addressed by the department head or appropriate dean.

Bio Safety
EHS Bulletin
Chemical Safety