CUMC achieved excellent results in the initial part of its first environmental self-audit, placing in the top 5 percent of academic medical centers.
Auditors inspected all of the approximately 1,000 research laboratory rooms for hazardous waste compliance along with all hazardous, radiation and universal waste storage areas. Only 3 percent of the labs were identified as having potential violations, a very low figure based on the size and diversity of research operations.
The audit's next phase begins on April 4, auditing air emissions, pesticide use and water-related programs including photographic darkrooms and acid neutralization systems.
Environmental Do's and Don'ts
• Do: Keep waste in same room where it is generated.
• Do: Ensure correct labeling and keep bottles closed.
• Do: Purchase only materials that will be used.
• Do not: Dispose of chemicals in drains, even if the solution is highly diluted.
While the environmental self-audit was taking place, CUMC carted away six tons of unused chemicals along with other materials under a new program dubbed CUP (Clean Up Program) 2004. CUP is a collaboration among CUMC's Central Administration, Environmental Health & Safety, and Facilities Management offices that offers free disposal of unwanted supplies and equipment. The program is expected to become an annual or possibly a twice-yearly event.
During the 2004 initiative, excess chemicals came from a number of labs that purchased large quantities to get discounted prices but, in the end, had no use for the surplus. "We urge everyone to order only what is needed because if materials are unused they need to be disposed of as hazardous waste and this is very expensive," says Kathleen Crowley, director, environmental health & safety. The six tons of chemical hazardous waste about 100 containers that were collected cost CUMC more than $63,000 to analyze and test for proper disposal.
"The good news is when labs get rid of unused chemicals they end up with more space and a safer workplace," Ms. Crowley says.