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Procedures for Vacating a Laboratory

Research Scientists vacating Columbia University-HSD facilities or relocating within the HSD system are responsible for leaving laboratories in a state suitable for re-occupancy or renovation. Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) must be notified of all moves in laboratory spaces. Upon notification, EH&S will inspect the laboratory space.

If the laboratory has been authorized for radiation use, you must call the Radiation Safety Office (RSO) at Extension 7-0303, for assistance with clearance. The RSO will inspect the laboratory before clearance is issued.
Space must not be re-occupied and no renovation work started until the space has been inspected and cleared by the EH&S and/or RSO

For your convenience, a printable copy of the Laboratory Vacating Procedures are linked here.

Radioactive Materials (RAM)

  • All RAM has been removed from the laboratory.
  • A Radiation Contamination Survey has been conducted and there is no presence of contamination.
  • A Walk-through Survey has been performed and all stickers labeled radioactive have been removed.
  • All equipment including refrigerator, freezer, liquid scintillation counter etc. have been cleared by the RSO.
Biohazardous Materials
  • Place all sharps (syringes, Pasteur pipettes, serological pipettes, razor blades, etc.) in a sharps container and dispose of it as red bag waste.
  • Dispose of all other potentially biohazardous waste from the laboratory in red bags as red bag waste.
  • Dispose of all solid media and supplies in the laboratory as red bag waste.
  • Decontaminate all liquid media by autoclaving or by treating for 30 minutes with bleach solution (final concentration to be 10%) before drain disposal.
  • Decontaminate all work surfaces using freshly prepared 10% bleach solution or 70% alcohol.
  • Decontaminate all biological safety cabinets before re-locating. Re-certification is required after a biological safety cabinet has been re-located. Contact EH&S (212)305-6780 for details.
Chemical Safety (disposal and/or re-location)
  • Call EH&S (5-6780) for help in re-locating chemicals to a new laboratory. Federal, State and Local laws require specific procedures to be followed when moving chemicals. Local movers are not permitted to move chemicals.
  • For disposal of hazardous waste and unwanted chemicals, complete the Chemical Waste Disposal List and facsimile to EH&S (795-5847). Place these chemicals in a safe and easy to find location for removal by the EH&S.
  • Remove all laboratory chemicals from shelves, cabinets, etc., which require moving to a new space and place them in a suitable container.
  • Rinse empty containers (glass, metal, plastic, etc.), which have contained hazardous substances, three times before discarding (please call EH&S for guidance if necessary). Remove or deface the container label to make it illegible, discard the cap separately to prevent its re-use, and place containers in a properly labeled, thick-walled, rigid cardboard container. The cardboard container must be able to withstand penetration by any broken glass it contains, and must be lined with a leak-resistant liner.
  • Remove all bench coat and disposable liners/covers from work surfaces and dispose in red bag waste.
  • Remove all debris from fume hoods.
  • Properly clean laboratory bench tops and fume hood surfaces (preferably with soap and water).
  • Remove any signage or placards from laboratory door (i.e., name tag, carcinogens, oxidizers, biohazard, etc., signs).
  • Notify EH&S (5-6780) if perchloric acid has been used in the fume hood.

Compressed Gas Cylinders: Disposal

  • Remove regulators and replace the valve stem cap. Return gas cylinders to the supplying vendor. Contact EH&S for non-returnable cylinders.

Compressed Gas Cylinders (including Liquid Nitrogen Cylinders): Relocation

  • When laboratory moves require crossing a public road (example: from Black Building to Hammer Building), compressed gas cylinders (including Liquid Nitrogen Cylinders) must be moved by the supplying vendor. Please call the appropriate vendor prior to the laboratory move to set-up day/time to move nitrogen cylinders.
Liquid Nitrogen-lined Freezers
  • The vendors supplying liquid nitrogen recommend that liquid nitrogen-lined freezers be drained to a minimum level (to sustain freezing of cells) prior to relocating. Liquid nitrogen freezers are moved by the moving company, and should be scheduled for refill (ASAP) at the new location, by the supplying vendor.
Old Equipment and Fixtures
  • Decontaminate all "contamination prone" equipment such as centrifuges, water baths, refrigerators, and freezers, etc. by using 10% bleach solution or a 70% alcohol. Call MCC (7-3753) for removal of decontaminated equipment.