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BioSafety

Q: What is an ‘infectious organism’? How are they classified? 
A: A four-tiered system, using the term Biosafety Level (BSL), is used to classify microorganisms and research materials containing them. 

  • BSL-1 refers to organisms not typically associated with disease in healthy adults. 
  • BSL-2 applies to organisms capable of causing disease in healthy adults.  Examples: Salmonella spp., Hepatitis B virus, and Staphylococcus aureus.  Infection is typically the result of direct contact, such as a needle stick, splash, or ingestion.
  • BSL-3 denotes organisms such as SARs and M. tuberculosis capable of causing serious disease via inhalation of aerosols.
  • BSL-4 is used for organisms such as Ebola virus and Variola (small pox) that have a high fatality rate, spread easily, and have no known vaccine or cure. 

Additional information on hazard classification can be found in the EH&S biosafety manual and CDC/NIH publication, “ Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories ”.

Q: What types of training are required for working with infectious or potentially infectious materials?
A: The OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens Standard (law) requires that biosafety training be provided to anyone working with human blood, body fluids, cell lines, unfixed tissues and any other materials deemed capable of transmitting HIV, Hepatitis B or C, or any other bloodborne disease.  University policy also requires that staff working with viral vectors or any other infectious organisms (regardless of their classification under the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard) attend training. Monthly classroom training is offered at CUMC and Morningside, schedule access via  http://ehs.columbia.edu/Training.html.  For other campuses, access the EH&S website http://ehs.columbia.edu/.  A training module for refresher training is available online via the RASCAL system. 

Q: What is the difference between classroom training and on-line training for Bloodborne Pathogens? 
A: The content is very similar.  People attending for the first time at Columbia must go to the classroom session.  Two courses are offered for refresher training; the lab-centric TC0509 - Biological Safety/Bloodborne Pathogen Training, or TC0025 - Bloodborne Pathogens/Infection Control Training for Personnel in Human Research Studies and Clinical Settings. Log in to RASCAL, click on the Training Center tab, click on Safety Courses and select the course you want to take. Since refresher training is required annually, a reminder will be sent eleven months later informing trainees of the need for refresher training, which may be done at the next classroom session or through RASCAL.

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Q: How should microorganisms and other materials that may contain infectious materials be shipped?
A: Requirements vary based on the hazard of the material be shipped. Some biological materials (and also dry ice) are regulated as hazardous materials by the Department of Transportation (DoT) and some are exempt or unregulated. Taking the RASCAL training and certification courses TC0076 and TC0507 will enable you to tell the difference. Certification by training is a legal requirement to ship hazardous materials. The EH&S biological materials shipping manual is a helpful resource and help can be requested from EH&S using our intent to ship form

Q: What about transporting materials between on-campus buildings or between different campuses? 
A: Inter-campus transport by Public transport such as subway is prohibited but permitted by University shuttle bus, taxi cab or personal vehicle. Transport requires use of the same type of protective packaging that would be required if it were being offered for shipment by FedEx and shippers must be trained to DoT standards. Private inter-campus transport is prohibited for Category A & B materials. The EH&S biological materials shipping manual provides full details on the policy.

Q: What are the rules for recombinant DNA?
A: The use of recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid is governed by the NIH Guidelines for Research involving Recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecules DNA Molecules .  The Guidelines apply institution-wide, regardless of whether an individual lab receives funding from the NIH.  Recombinant DNA molecules are defined as either: (i) recombinant nucleic acid molecules, (ii) synthetic nucleic acid molecules, including those that are chemically or otherwise modified but can base pair with naturally occurring nucleic acid molecules, and (iii) cells, organisms, and viruses containing such molecules The Guidelines require varying levels of institutional registration and pre-approval depending on the risk of a particular recombinant DNA activity.  ALL recombinant DNA procedures must be registered, and if necessary pre-approved by the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC). The University’s recombinant DNA policy is a useful resource.

Q: What is the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC)?
A: The NIH requires .all institutions where rDNA is used, establish an IBC to review and approve rDNA protocols.  It is composed of administrators, researchers and community members not affiliated with the University, who provide expertise in policy-making, infection control and risk assessment.

Q: How do I submit a rDNA proposal to the IBC?

In vitro use

A: Go to RASCAL.  In the ‘Compliance’ section, open the link to ‘Hazardous Materials’ and select ‘Appendix A’, recombinant DNA.  Ensure that the “in vitro/invertebrates” radio button is checked. Complete and save the form and then, using RASCAL, submit it to EH&S.

As part of an animal care study
A: Go to RASCAL.  In the ‘Compliance’ section, open the link to ‘Hazardous Materials’ and select ‘Appendix A’, recombinant DNA.  Ensure that the “IACUC or IRB protocol” radio button is checked. Complete and save the form and then attach it to your animal care protocol.

Q: How are biomedical materials disposed?
A: Potentially infectious material is formally known as Regulated Medical Waste (RMW); its classification and disposal is governed by the New York State Public Health Law and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Columbia University takes a broader approach in that waste that looks biomedical in nature is treated as RMW (for example, petri dishes of food for Drosophila). Containers for disposal are provided by the University in the form of rigid sharps containers or plastic bags.  Sharps containers are for needles, syringes, blades, ALL pipets, ALL contaminated glass items, and any other materials that might rip a red bag.  The bags are for gloves, bench coverings, empty tissue culture flasks, and petri dishes. Most RMW is treated off-site, however some infectious material must be decontaminated on-site prior to entering the RMW-stream. The University’s regulated medical waste policy is a useful resource

Q: What about liquid RMW?
A: Plastic tubes that are tightly sealed and contain small quantities of blood or other biomedical material (<50 ml) can be placed directly into a red bag for disposal. Due to potential for breakage and injury, glass tubes are to be placed in a sharps container. Large volumes of liquid RMW such as tiddue culture media (>50 ml), are not to be placed in a red bag; these materials must undergo chemical decontamination. Sufficient decontaminant concentration and contact time must be allowed. In the case of bleach, the final concentration should be no less than 10% of the overall volume of the liquid to be disposed, with 20 minutes of contact time. The decontaminated liquid can then be flushed down the sink with plenty of water.

Q: What types of disinfectants are recommended for routine decontamination and spill clean up?
A: Many chemical types (alcohols, chlorine compounds, iodophores, phenolics, quaternary ammonium compounds, etc.) have been successfully employed in research and clinical settings. The disinfectant should be matched to the biological agent being used.

  • Alcohols Low odor, non-corrosive, broad biocidal spectrum that disinfects by acting as a solvent to lipid membranes. Therefore unsuitable for non-enveloped viruses and spores. Rapid evaporation limits its usefulness for heavily soiled surfaces and spills.  Use only on visibly clean surfaces when working with low risk material; never for a spill.
  • Bleach Broad biocidal spectrum The recommended concentration is 10% final concentration (1 part household bleach added to 9 parts water or liquid waste).  These solutions must be made up fresh daily because of the degradation of the active hypochlorite chemical.  Use for spills, treatment of tissue culture media prior to sink disposal and all applications when working with pathogens.  Bleach is noxious and may corrode stainless steel; avoid use on a corrosion sensitive surface or remove residue with alcohol or distilled water.
  • Quaternary ammonium compounds. Broad biocidal spectrum and less corrosive than bleach. For use on surfaces. Observe contact time directions and product expiration dates

For a more detailed discussion, including information about the relative strength and applications of bleach, alcohols, and other disinfectants, refer to the EH&S biosafety manual decontamination section and Summary of Disinfectant Activities

Q: How are spills containing infectious materials cleaned up?
A:

  • Stop what you are doing and alert people in the immediate area.
  • Tend to anybody who may have been injured.
  • Put on a lab coat, eye protection, and two pairs of gloves.
  • Cover the spill with paper towels or other absorbent material. 
  • Pour a 10% bleach solution around the edges of the spill.
  • Wait 10-20 minutes.
  • Pick up paper towels with tongs, forceps or other device—never by hand.
  • Re-clean area with disinfectant moistened paper towel.
  • Place used towels in red bag for disposal.

For more information refer to the EH&S Biological Spills Response and Clean-Up Policy.

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Chemical Tracking System

Q: What is ChemTracker?
A:  ChemTrackeris a chemical tracking system developed by Stanford University and available to Universities in the consortium. Columbia University is a consortium member. 

Q: How can I obtain the ChemTracker login?
A:  New users need to be added to the system, e-mail ChemTracker@columbia.edu   and include your full name, campus phone number, the name of your PI and department.  You will be given a username, password, and setup proper permissions in the system. 
 
Q: What is the URL for the ChemTracker login?
A:  https://columbiany.chemtracker.org/

Q: If I forgot my password what do I do?
A: 
On ChemTracker, click on “Send Me My Password” and enter your email address and username.  A password will be sent to you shortly. 

Q: What are the system requirements?
A: You will need Netscape Communicator 4.5 or higher, Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.0 or later versions installed on your computer.  The application will work on either Mac or PC, although PC is recommended.  You will also need Adobe Acrobat 3.0 or higher to run and print some of the available reports.
 
 TIP:  ChemTracker runs optimally when using Internet Explorer (IE).  The newer web browsers such as Mozilla, Firefox and Safari have been problematic.  Use IE whenever possible.  

Q: What other plug-ins are needed to run the system?
A:

  • Any installed pop-up blockers must be disabled to allow pop-ups whenever viewing ChemTracker.  
  • Java plug-in is needed for the version II (http://java.com/en/download/manual.jsp)
  • Chem3D plug-in is needed to see the 3D Chemical structure. (This function is not available in Mac)

Q.  Will other people (other labs, research groups) be able to see my chemical inventory?

A.  ChemTracker users will be granted access only to their departmental inventory. Even in common or shared areas, such as cold rooms, you will only be able to see items belonging to your department.

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Q.  Since ChemTracker is web based, will my inventory be published to the web? Will everyone in the whole world be able to see my inventory?
A.  ChemTracker is a secure site with user ID and password protection. Inventory data is private, only authorized users will be granted access to chemical inventory.

Q. Will I be able to search, or view the entire campus chemical inventory if I want to borrow something?
A.  No. Users will be given access only to their department, Surplus, and ChemStore inventories.

Q: How do I get the ChemTracker system training?
A
: Send e-mail to ChemTracker@columbia.edu.  Usually training is done by each PI group and takes about 20-30 minutes. Visit the EH&S webpage for “ Using ChemTracker System”.

Q:  What chemicals need to be Included/Not-included in your hazardous material inventory?


DO INCLUDE

DO NOT INCLUDE

All chemicals and chemical products. Typical examples:

 

  • All chemicals except Compressed gases

 

  • Biological Buffer Solutions
  • Amino Acids
  • Proteins - Includes enzymes and peptides
  • Nucleic Acids - Includes nucleotides, nucleosides, primers, and PCR kits
  • Digestible Sugars (-ose) and Non-Digestible Sugars (-ol)
  • Tissue Culture Supplies
  • Biological Growth Media
  • Salts Listed in this link (all other salts MUST BE tracked)
  • Retail products used for routine household-like activities (i.e.: cleansers, dish soap)
  • Materials to be expended within 1-2 days (i.e.: working solutions)
  • Radioactive materials
  • Bio-hazardous materials
  • Non-hazardous buffers

If it's not on the DO NOT INCLUDE list and has any sort of hazard associated, put it in the inventory.

For Details of “Do not include” chemicals, see the webpage: http://www.ehs.columbia.edu/BIOLOGY EXEMPT CHEMICALS.pdf
Contact EH&S at (212) 854-8749 for any question.

Q: What do we do with our cardboard glass bins when they are full?  How do I get a replacement cardboard bin?

A: At the Morningside campus, new cardboard glass bins can be obtained through Chemstores (for the Chemistry Dept), Biostores (for the Biology Dept) or they can be ordered through laboratory chemical suppliers.  Please visit the “Laboratory Container and Glassware Management Policy” link at:  http://www.ehs.columbia.edu/DisposalMap.html
Once the cardboard glass bin is full it must be covered and securely taped closed. The cardboard glass bin must then be placed in the hallway for pickup by the Facilities Operation Department. 

Q: What do I do with my full, blue glass bins at the Morningside campus?

A: To have blue glass bins picked up submit a Chemical Waste Pickup Form.  The online form is available by visiting the Chemical Waste Pickup Request Form link at:    http://vesta.cumc.columbia.edu/ehs/wastepickup
A Hazardous Materials Officer will pick up the requested material within 3 business days from the date of the request.

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Cyanide Guideline

What is Cyanide?
Cyanide is an extremely toxic chemical. One of the most commonly used toxic cyanide compounds includes hydrogen cyanide, sodium cyanide and potassium cyanide.
Hydrogen cyanide is a colorless gas with a faint, bitter, almond like odor. Sodium cyanide and potassium cyanide are both white solids.

Why Does Use of Cyanide at Columbia Require Special Procedures?
Cyanide compounds are used by multiple Research Labs at Columbia University. Cyanide is an extremely toxic substance. Exposure to high levels of cyanide harms the brain and heart, and may cause coma and death. Even exposure to lower levels may result in breathing difficulties, heart pains, vomiting, blood changes, headaches, and enlargement of the thyroid gland. Following proper procedures will prevent exposure and these symptoms.

How Might Cyanide Enter My Body?

  • Cyanide may enter the body through the respiratory tract, ingestion and skin.
  • The most likely route of exposure in research laboratories is inhalation. Proper use of engineering controls (such as working in a certified fume hood) should prevent exposure via the respiratory tract.
  • Skin absorption is also a concern. Proper use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) should prevent exposure through this route. Emergency responders should be aware of the risk of contact with the contaminated clothing or skin of exposed individuals. PPE should be utilized when responding to emergencies involving cyanide.

How Can Cyanide Affect My Health?
Although proper handling, use, storage and disposal of cyanide result in the risk of exposure being very low you should be aware of the signs of cyanide exposure.
Some of the first indications of severe cyanide poisoning are rapid, deep breathing and shortness of breath, followed by convulsions (seizures) and loss of consciousness. These symptoms can occur rapidly, depending on the amount inhaled. The health effects of large amounts of cyanide exposure are similar, whether you eat, drink, or breathe. Cyanide uptake into the body through the skin is slower than other means of exposure. Skin contact with hydrogen cyanide or cyanide salts can irritate and produce sores.

What are the Requirements When Purchasing Cyanide?
Cyanide compounds should be purchased in the smallest feasible quantities.
Safety Data Sheets (SDS’s) must be obtained from the supplier.

Do Special Guidelines Exist for Handling, Using and Storing Cyanide?
To prevent exposure to cyanide Columbia University Environmental Health and Safety has developed specific guidelines for the use, handling and storage of cyanide. These guidelines are on EH&S website (http://ehs.columbia.edu) 
The Guidelines and theSDS must be maintained in each laboratory utilizing cyanide. All workers in the laboratory must be aware of their location.

How Should Cyanide be Disposed Of?
Never dispose off any chemical through the drain. To dispose of cyanide waste follow the waste disposal guidelines on http://vesta.cumc.columbia.edu/ehs/wastepickup/  or contact EH&S at 212 854 9749 (MS) or 212 305 6780 (CUMC) to arrange for waste disposal.

Is Cyanide Exposure a Medical Emergency?
Yes, Exposure to cyanide is a medical emergency requiring immediate response.

What Should Be Done In Case Of A Cyanide Exposure?
Follow the Procedures outlined in the Cyanide Guidelines document.

At Morningside Campus: Call Public Safety (x99) and then call 911 for help.

At Medical Center Campus: Call Public Safety (5-8100) and then call NYPH First Responder (212-305-9999) for help.

At LDEO Campus: Call Safety (x555) and then 911

At Nevis Campus: Call 911 and then EH&S (212-305-6780 or 212-854-8749).

During the phone call be sure to state that a cyanide exposure has occurred. Ask them to bring Cyanide Antidote Kit. Have theSDS ready for the responders and medical personnel.

Does Chronic Exposure to Cyanide Increase the Risk of Developing Cancer?
There is no scientific literature that cyanide can cause cancer in people or animals. EPA has determined that cyanide is not classifiable as to its human carcinogenicity.

Is There a Medical Test to Show Whether I've been Exposed To Cyanide?
There are medical tests to measure blood and urine levels of cyanide; however, small amounts of cyanide are always detectable in blood and urine. Tissue levels of cyanide can be measured if cyanide poisoning is suspected, but cyanide is rapidly cleared from the body, so the tests must be done soon after the exposure. An almond-like odor in the breath may alert a Physician that a person was exposed to cyanide.

Has The EPA Made Recommendations To Protect Human Health?
EPA regulates the levels of cyanide in drinking water. The highest level of cyanide allowed in drinking water is 0.2 parts cyanide per 1 million parts of water (0.2 ppm).

Does OSHA Regulate Cyanide Levels in the Workplace?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has set a limit for hydrogen cyanide exposure and most cyanide salts of 10 parts cyanide per 1 million parts of air (10 ppm) in the workplace.

Who Should be Called For Questions regarding Cyanide?
EH&S can answer questions regarding cyanide or any chemical use.
Call (212) – 854 - 8749 (MS Campus) or (212) -305 - 6780 (CUMC).

References

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), 2006. Toxicological Profile for Cyanide. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service

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Ergonomics

Q: What is “Ergonomics?”
A: Ergonomics refers to the scientific, interdisciplinary study of individuals and their physical relationship to their environment. The word, ergonomics, is derived from the Greek words ergos meaning "work" and nomos meaning "laws"; therefore, it means the “laws of work.”  Ergonomics can be further defined as the design of the workplace taking into consideration workers capabilities.

Q: What is repetitive strain injury (RSI)?
A: RSI is a response to excessive and repetitive demands placed on the body resulting in excessive wear and tear on the soft tissues of the body (nerves, tendons, circulatory system, etc.). It includes Cumulative Trauma Disorder (CTD), Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSD), Repetitive Motion Injury (RMI), Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS), etc. If your body does not get a chance to heal, the damage adds up, and can eventually result in RSI.

Q: What are the injury signs that I should look for?
A: Typical symptoms include tightness, general numbness, soreness, dull ache, sharp pain, tingling, burning, swelling, and/or loss of strength in your upper extremities (hands, arms, shoulders, and neck). These symptoms tend to increase as the offending activity is continued and usually decrease or disappear after stopping the task. If you are still tired and in pain after a night's rest, the activity in question may be stressing you to the point of injury.

Q: What should I do if I experience RSI-related pain?
A: Always consult your doctor to rule out any other underlying medial cause. Review the EH&S website ( http: //ehs.columbia.edu/Ergonomics.html ) for ergonomic information and to determine if you need ergonomic evaluation of your workstation or activities. If you do, complete the request form and Questionnaire and send it to EH&S via email ( ehrs@Columbia.edu ) or fax it at (212) 316-4937 at MS or (212)305-0318 at CUMC.

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Q: What are typical injury risk factors?
A: Several factors can result in RSI. For example: physical activities like repetition, posture, force, contact stress; medical conditions such as diabetes, arthritis, thyroid disease, gout, excessive weight, pregnancy; and environmental/psychosocial issues such as low levels of job satisfaction, infrequent or inflexible breaks, monotonous work, limited autonomy (lack of control over the work performed), excessive work load, etc., may result in RSI.

Q: What can I do to avoid injury?
A: The best approach is to avoid the risk factors. Consult the EH&S website to review information on symptom recognition and workstation design as well as other information and resources.

Q: Can various products help to reduce RSI?
A:
Use an ergonomically designed chair and adjust it to your height, arrange height of your workstation to minimize stress on neck and shoulders, adjust monitor height to minimize stress on your neck and shoulder and use keyboard at a proper height to help reduce RSI. Use of a proper pointing device like mouse, trackballs and touch pads can also reduce risk of hurting fingers and hands. Other products like wrist rests, footrests and document holders can help in keeping a neutral posture and to reduce static and forceful exertions related to RSI

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Hazard Assessment and Chemical Exposure Monitoring


Q. What is the difference between toxicity and hazard?
A. Risk is the probability of exposure.  Toxicity is one consideration when evaluating the risk associated with using a particular chemical.  For example, although potassium cyanide is extremely toxic, how probable is it that one would be exposed to this solid, nonvolatile, mostly non-reactive chemical?

Q. What are the factors that should be considered when evaluating the risk associated with using a particular chemical?
A. The more difficult a chemical is to contain, the greater the risk the chemical poses. Chemical and physical properties such as reactivity and volatility; whether the chemical has a strong odor (i.e., low odor threshold), or is intensely irritating (good warning property) are all aspects to consider when evaluating hazard of a chemical.

Q: How does the manner in which a chemical is used contribute to the overall risk?
A: How a chemical is used can contribute greatly to (or subtract from) the overall risk.  The basic premise is the same: how difficult is it to contain the material?  If the procedure calls for large quantities of a chemical to be used in a large, open reaction vessel instead of a micro-scale, closed system, then there is greater potential for exposure to the chemical.  If the experimental procedure is so physically large and unwieldy such that it cannot be placed inside a chemical fume hood, and thus more difficult to contain, then exposure becomes more likely.  If the reaction vessel is heated and creates pressures that are greater than one (> 1) atmosphere, or if the vessel is brought to a near-vacuum, the more likely the reaction vessel will break and release its contents.  Carefully consider the chemical- and physical properties of the chemicals you will use, as well as other aspects of your experimental procedure that could contribute to the hazard.  The risks associated with a high hazard chemical can be mitigated by adjustments to the experimental procedure; conversely, a medium- or low hazard chemical can pose a greater risk by using large quantities in an uncontrolled manner.

 Q:  When is chemical exposure monitoring necessary?
A.  If a person is working with a high hazard chemical without proper engineering controls, exposure monitoring may be necessary.  Normally chemical emissions are uncontrolled if work with chemicals occurs outside of a chemical fume hood.  Certain tasks involving chemical use take place in uncontrolled settings (e.g. spray painting, working with multi-gallon quantities of hazardous chemicals on a bench top, etc.)  These are the types of work for which chemical exposure monitoring would be necessary.

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Q:  What is involved in exposure monitoring?
A:  Exposure monitoring typically involves attaching a monitoring device to the worker and then analyzing the results.  The monitoring device could be either passive (monitoring badge i.e., air in the breathing zone is not actively drawn into the monitoring device) or active (charcoal tube attached to a sampling pump).  Some devices can be read directly, and some must be sent to an outside laboratory for analysis.  Monitoring devices often have ±25% sampling error, depending on the analyte.  It is important to remember that sampling methods are highly specialized; simultaneous monitoring for a second chemical usually involves another sampling technique.

Q:  How is exposure monitoring data handled?
A:  According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations, persons for whom exposure monitoring was performed must be notified within 15 days of the receipt of results from the laboratory.  Exposure records are kept for 30 years.

Waste Management: Hazardous Waste

Q:  What is Hazardous Waste?
A:  In regulatory terms, a Hazardous Waste is a chemical waste that exhibits at least one of four characteristics—ignitability, corrosivity, reactivity, or toxicity—or is specifically listed on one of four hazardous wastes lists developed USEPA and NYSDEC.
In general terms, Hazardous Waste is any liquid, solid, contained gas or sludge that you intend to dispose of and has properties that make it dangerous or potentially harmful to human health or the environment if not disposed of properly.  Columbia University takes a very conservative approach to Hazardous Waste management and requires that all chemical wastes, whether or not they meet the strict regulatory definition, be collected for proper disposal through EH&S.  

For more information or examples of Hazardous Waste, please contact EH&S at (212) 854-8749, refer to your laboratory Emergency Response and Waste Disposal Guide, or visit: http://www.ehs.columbia.edu/HazardousWaste.html

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Q:  How must I manage my Hazardous Waste?
A:  Columbia University has established a set of simplified Hazardous Waste management guidelines called the “5 Ls” available at: http://www.ehs.columbia.edu/5Ls.pdf
The “5 Ls” include:

  • Collect
  • Label
  • Lid
  • Locate
  • Leaks

Q:  How must I Collect my Hazardous Waste?
A:  CoLLect all Hazardous Waste for proper disposal in a chemically compatible container, preferably plastic. For example, hydrofluoric acid must not be placed in a glass container and acids must not be placed in metal containers. 

Hazardous waste must not be poured down the drain, diluted, evaporated, neutralized, or treated in any manner to attempt to render them non-hazardous. Evaluate chemical inventories periodically and coLLect chemicals for disposal that are unwanted, expired or have no intended use.
 
A:  How do I properly label my Hazardous Waste container?
Q:  Affix a Hazardous Waste Label to the container as soon as the first drop of Waste is added. List all of the components of the Waste on the Label.  Do not use chemical formula or abbreviations on Hazardous Waste Labels. Unlabeled containers or “UNKNOWN” are not acceptable.   Please refer to the directions on the back of the Hazardous Waste label for guidance. Hazardous Waste labels can be obtained by contacting EH&S (212) 854-8749 or by completing the comment section on the Chemical Waste pick-up form at: http://vesta.cumc.columbia.edu/ehs/wastepickup

LDEO - Hazardous Waste labels can be obtained by submitting an email to: hazwaste@admin.ldeo.columbia.edu

Q:  Do I need to keep my Hazardous Waste container closed?
A:  Yes, Hazardous Waste containers must be kept tightly closed at all times, except when actively adding Hazardous Waste. Use a closeable Lid that will prevent the Hazardous Waste from evaporating or spilling should the container be knocked over in the laboratory.  Funnels, corks, tin foil and/or Parafilm are not acceptable Lids for Hazardous Waste.

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Q:  Where should I store my Hazardous Waste?
ALocate Hazardous Waste containers at or near the point of the Hazardous Waste’s generation (a.k.a. Satellite Accumulation Area). Do not Locate hazardous waste containers outside of the room in which the waste was generated.

Q: What do I do if my Hazardous Waste container is leaking?
A:  Satellite Accumulation Areas must be inspected weekly for Leaks.  Do not allow Leaking containers to remain in Satellite Accumulation Areas. If a container is leaking, immediately contact EH&S at (212)854-8749 for assistance.

Q:  Do I need to collect my alcohol waste, including ethanol? Or can I dump it down the drain?
A:  Columbia University has a strict NO DRAIN DISPOSAL POLICY for hazardous chemicals.  All Hazardous Wastes must be collected for proper disposal.  Alcohol solutions, including ethanol, are often ignitable and thus considered Hazardous Waste.  Alcohol solutions and other Hazardous Wastes must not be evaporated, neutralized, diluted or treated in any manner to attempt to render them non-hazardous.

Q: Do I need to collect my used oil?
A: Yes, used pump oil must be collected and labeled “USED OIL” for recycling. Standard waste containers may be used, such as 1 or 5-gallon poly containers. Please do not consolidate any other chemicals into the same container as used oil.  Containers and “USED OIL” labels can be obtained by contacting EH&S (212) 854-8749 or by completing the comment section on the Chemical Waste pickup form at:
http://vesta.cumc.columbia.edu/ehs/wastepickup

Q:  What is Mixed Waste and how do I know if I have generated it?
A:  Mixed Waste contains both a Hazardous Waste and a radionuclide.  Therefore, Mixed Waste must be collected and labeled just like the Hazardous Waste described above except the radionuclide(s) and activity must also be noted.  For more information on Mixed Waste contact the Morningside campus EH&S office by calling (212) 854-8749 and asking for a Radiation Safety Officer. 

Q: How do I get more Hazardous Waste containers and Hazardous Waste labels?
A: Hazardous Waste containers and labels can be obtained by contacting EH&S (212) 854-8749, or by completing the comment section on the Chemical Waste Pickup Request Form at: http://vesta.cumc.columbia.edu/ehs/wastepickup
Please specify the quantity, size, and type of supplies needed in the additional comments section. 

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Q: When are Hazardous Wastes picked up?
A: At the Morningside campus, Hazardous Waste is picked up by submitting a Chemical Waste pickup form.  The online form is available by visiting the Chemical Waste Pickup Request Form link at:   http://vesta.cumc.columbia.edu/ehs/wastepickup
A Hazardous Materials Officer will pick up the requested material within three business days from the date of the request.

Monday: CEPSR pickups (CEPSR, Mudd, ET, FC, Schermerhorn, Pupin)
Tuesday: Dodge pickups; Routine chemistry pickups
Wednesday: Rad waste pickups at MS and MC; Rad waste consolidation at MS and MC.
Thursday: CEPSR pickups (CEPSR, Mudd, ET, FC, Schermerhorn, Pupin)
Friday: Routine chemistry pickups; Replace RWM containers with Sterecycle when needed.

At the Medical Center campus Hazardous Wastes is picked up every Friday with the exception of the Audubon Technology buildings (Lasker, Berrie and Irving) which are serviced every Thursday.  Hazardous Waste is picked up by submitting a Hazardous Waste pickup form.  They are available by visiting the “Hazardous Waste pickup form” link at:  http://www.ehs.columbia.edu/cs.html

At Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Hazardous Waste pickups are scheduled on an “as needed basis” and are arranged by sending an email to: hazwaste@admin.ldeo.columbia.edu. Monday through Friday, Hazardous Waste pickups are completed the same day if requested before noon. When requests are received after noon, the Hazardous Waste will be picked up on the next business day.

At the Nevis campus, Hazardous Waste pickups are scheduled on an “as needed basis” and are arranged through the Morningside campus EH&S office by calling (212) 854-8749 and asking for a Hazardous Materials Officer.  A Hazardous Materials Officer will schedule the Hazardous Waste pick up in conjunction with other Nevis campus needs, typically within 3 weeks of the original request

Q:  Can I mix all of my inorganic acid waste? 
A:  Yes, inorganic acid waste may be mixed together providing the concentrations are similar (very concentrated acids such as 96% sulfuric acid must not be mixed with a very dilute acid 0.1% hydrochloric acid).  Please include the percentage of each individual acid in the mixture on the Hazardous Waste label. Hydrofluoric acid must be stored and labeled separately from other inorganic acids whenever the process permits.   Please visit the “Chemical segregation chart” link at: 
http://ehs.columbia.edu/chemSegChart.pdf

Q:  Can I mix my flammable solvent wastes together, like acetone, methanol, hexane and ethanol?
A:  Yes, flammable solvent wastes can be commingled in the same Hazardous Waste container, but the percentage ranges must be listed individually for each constituent.  Halogenated solvent wastes containing Fluorine, Chlorine, Bromine, and Iodine (e.g., methylene chloride, tetrachloroethylene, and trichloroethane), must be collected separately from non-halogenated wastes such as acetone, hexane, and ethanol.

Q: What do we do with our cardboard glass bins when they are full?  How do I get a replacement cardboard bin?
A: At the Morningside campus, new cardboard glass bins can be obtained through Chemstores (for the Chemistry Dept), Biostores (for the Biology Dept) or they can be ordered through laboratory chemical suppliers.  Please visit the “Laboratory Container and Glassware Management Policy” link at: http://www.ehs.columbia.edu/DisposalMap.html

Once the cardboard glass bin is full it must be covered and securely taped closed. The cardboard glass bin must then be placed in the hallway for pickup by the Facilities Operation Department. 

Q: What do I do with my full, blue glass bins at the Morningside campus?
A: To have blue glass bins picked up submit a Chemical Waste Pickup Form.  The online form is available by visiting the Chemical Waste Pickup Request Form link at:   http://vesta.cumc.columbia.edu/ehs/wastepickup
A Hazardous Materials Officer will pick up the requested material within three business days from the date of the request.

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Q: What do I do with my full Ethidium Bromide containers?
A: Ethidium Bromide containers are picked up by submitting a Hazardous Waste pickup form available by visiting the “Hazardous Waste pickup form” link at:   http://vesta.cumc.columbia.edu/ehs/wastepickup

Q: How do I properly dispose of my batteries?
A: Batteries must be collected for proper disposal in accordance with Hazardous Waste collection procedures.  Please collect batteries in a suitable container such as poly pail, cardboard box or sealable plastic bag.    Please follow all the Hazardous Waste requirements when handling leaking batteries.  To have batteries picked up submit a Chemical Waste Pickup Form.  The online form is available by visiting the Chemical Waste Pickup Request Form link at:   http://vesta.cumc.columbia.edu/ehs/wastepickup
A Hazardous Materials Officer will pick up the requested material within three business days from the date of the request

LDEO - Batteries can be picked up by sending an email to: hazwaste@admin.ldeo.columbia.edu.

Q: Can I throw my old computer in the trash?
A: No, computer equipment (including monitors and CPUs) must be recycled.  Computers are manufactured using various heavy metals, such as Lead and Cadmium that may pose a threat to the environment if disposed of in landfills.  Contact the Morningside campus Facilities Operations Department (212-854-2222) for assistance in collecting and recycling of your unwanted computer equipment.

Medical Center- contact Facilities Operations Department at (212) 305-7367 for assistance in collecting and recycling of unwanted computer equipment.

LDEO - Unwanted computer/electronic equipment can be picked up by sending an email to: hazwaste@admin.ldeo.columbia.edu.

Nevis - contact the Nevis campus Facilities Department at (914) 591-8883 for assistance in collecting and recycling of unwanted computer equipment.

Q: What do I do with aerosol cans?
A:
Empty or full, aerosol cans must be collected and managed as Hazardous Waste.  Aerosol cans often contain flammable and/or other hazardous constituents that cause them to be a Hazardous Waste when processed for disposal.  Even “empty” aerosol cans often contain residual Hazardous Waste constituents and must be managed as a Hazardous Waste.  To have Aerosols picked up submit a Chemical Waste Pickup Form.  The online form is available by visiting the Chemical Waste Pickup Request Form link at:  http://vesta.cumc.columbia.edu/ehs/wastepickup
A Hazardous Materials Officer will pick up the requested material within three business days from the date of the request

Q: How do I dispose of Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs) and Mercury?
A: http://ehs.columbia.edu/Fact_Sheet_Mercury.pdf

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Waste Management :

Mixed Waste

Q: What is Mixed Waste and how do I know if I have generated it?

A: Mixed Waste contains both a Hazardous Waste and a radionuclide.  Therefore, Mixed Waste must be collected and labeled just like the Hazardous Waste described above except the radionuclide(s) and activity must also be noted.  For more information on Mixed Waste contact the Morningside campus EH&RS office by calling (212) 854-8749 and asking for a Radiation Safety Officer. 

Medical Center campus - contact Radiation Safety office by calling (212) 305-0303 and asking for a Radiation Safety Officer. 

Radiation Waste

Q: What should I do in the event of a spill or leaking container during my work with radioactivity?
A: Notify personnel directly in the area so that they will not inadvertently become “contaminated” and call Radiation Safety immediately (Medical Center, 212-305-0303; Morningside, LDEO and Nevis, 212-854-8749).  Confine the spill by using absorbent pads or material.  Monitor yourself or colleagues that may have been in the area by scanning hands, feet and body with a radiation survey meter, such as a Geiger-Muller counter or liquid scintillation counter. 

Q: What are my responsibilities for handling and managing radioactive waste as part of my work?
A: Evaluate if you have a Mixed Waste and follow the below guidelines if one is present.  Radioactive waste must be segregated based on type (solid, liquid, LSV, Plates, etc.) and isotope.  When radioactive waste is being generated, just like for hazardous waste, follow the “5 L’s:”

  • CoLLect
  • Label
  • Lid
  • Locate
  • Leak        

Radioactive waste collection containers must be free from removable contamination, labeled and closed when not being actively used.  Lastly, submit an online radioactive waste pickup request to have your full waste containers removed by visiting http://vesta.cumc.columbia.edu/ehs/radioactivewastepickup/.

Q: Can I store my radioactive waste in my lab, and if so, how long can I keep it?
A: EH&S encourages all laboratories to submit an online radioactive waste pickup for all radioactive wastes.  However, some radioactive materials can be stored in the labs, depending on the duration of its half-life, with the exception being H-3 and C-14.  Acceptable storage times for various isotopes are shown below:

  • P-32………6 months
  • P-33………9 months
  • Cr-51…….1 year
  • I-125……..2 years
  • S-35………3 years

Q: I have equipment that was used in work involving radioactivity.  How can I dispose of this equipment?
A: Clean all surfaces and ensure no radioactive contamination is present and survey equipment by performing wipe tests and exposure surveys with a Geiger-Muller counter.  Once you are confident there is no contamination present, contact Radiation Safety (Medical Center, 212-305-0303; Morningside, LDEO & Nevis, 212-854-8749) to perform an equipment clearance.

Q: What should I do with the lead or lead containers that comes with the radioactive shipments, which I do not need?
A: Columbia University recycles lead.  However, just as with equipment clearances, this lead must be free from radioactive contamination before it can be sent for recycling.  The process for lead clearance is the same as for equipment clearance.  Please refer to the previous section for more details. 

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Q:  How do I dispose of my liquid scintillation standards that I no longer need?  Can they be discarded in the LSV containers?
A:  Liquid scintillation standards do not meet the same regulatory definitions for disposal and are not processed the same as liquid scintillation vials and thus must not be discarded in the LSV containers.  Liquid scintillation standards typically contain a blank, 3H and 14C and often contain toluene or xylene as the carrier solution.  Because the set contains an ignitable solvent and a long-lived isotope it is typically a mixed waste and must be disposed of through EH&S by submitting an online radioactive waste pickup by visiting http://vesta.cumc.columbia.edu/ehs/radioactivewastepickup/.

Q:  Can beta plates or 96-well plates be mixed with my dry solid waste or LSV waste?
A:  Beta plates or 96-well plates are processed differently than dry solid waste and LSV waste.  Therefore, they must be kept separate.

Q:  Can I put radioactive labeled containers, such as 32P plastic pigs, in my dry solid waste containers?
A:  Plastic pigs and any other short-lived radioactive labeled items may be placed in the dry solid waste collection containers, however, they must be defaced prior to placing them in the container. 

Q: How do I get rid of my radioactive waste or request additional radioactive material supplies and when will service occur?
A: Submit an online radioactive waste pickup request at http://vesta.cumc.columbia.edu/ehs/radioactivewastepickup/ to have your waste containers collected when they are 90% full and new ones delivered.  Waste collections are made once per week on Wednesdays at CUMC and within 3 business days at Morningside.  LDEO and Nevis campus radioactive waste pickups are addressed on an “as needed basis” and will be addressed by EH&S.

Q: Do I need to segregate waste types and isotopes in my laboratory?
A: Yes.  All waste (liquid, solid, LSV, Plates etc.) must be segregated by isotope, with the exception of C-14 and H-3, which have long half-lives, and can be combined.  For instance, if your laboratory uses S-35 and P-32 in liquid form then you must have two separate containers labeled according to isotope to store the waste. 

Q:  My PI shares a common equipment room with another PI.  Can we combine our radioactive waste in one container?
A:  No.  Radioactive isotopes and usage is tracked by PI.  Therefore, in common equipment rooms radioactive wastes must be kept separate from other PI’s wastes even if they are the same type.

Q:  Do I need to collect my dilute, titrated alcohol waste or 14C contaminated oil? Or can I dump it down the drain?
A:  Columbia University has a strict NO DRAIN DISPOSAL POLICY for hazardous chemicals including used oil.  All Radioactive Wastes must be collected for proper disposal.  Alcohol solutions containing radioisotopes, including ethanol, are often ignitable and thus may be considered a Mixed Waste.  Alcohol solutions and other Radioactive Wastes must not be evaporated, neutralized, diluted or treated in any manner to attempt to render them nonhazardous.

Q: What is a Mixed Waste?
A: Mixed Waste contains both a Hazardous Waste and a radioactive material.  Therefore, Mixed Waste must be collected and labeled just like the Hazardous Waste, except the radionuclide(s) and activity must also be noted.  Review the Mixed Waste policy by visiting: http://www.ehs.columbia.edu/RadiationMixedWasteMC.html

Q: Who can help me with radioactive or Mixed Waste questions?
A: At the Medical Center, call 212-305-6780 at Morningside, call 212-854-8749 or email env-safety@columbia.edu

Q:  Do I have to pay for my radioactive waste services?
A:  No, Columbia University pays for radioactive waste services through EH&S.

Q:  Does the collection container provide any shielding benefits?
A:  Contact the Radiation Safety Program for inquiries regarding shielding.

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Laboratory Safety

Q: What training do I need before working in the lab?
A: Lab personnel, including students, are required to attend EHS initial live safety training covering the following areas before working in a laboratory:

  • Laboratory Safety and Hazardous Waste Management:  For personnel working with chemicals (required every two years).
  • Biosafety and Bloodborne Pathogens: For personnel working with microorganisms, recombinant DNA, and any unfixed human or animal tissue (OSHA requires annually).
  • Safe Use of Xylene and Formaldehyde: For personnel exposed regularly to these chemicals (OSHA requires annually).
  • Radiation Safety:  For personnel who work with radioactive material (required annually).
  • Laser Safety: For personnel who work with lasers (class 3b, 4a or greater) (required annually).
  • Fire Safety: Offered by Department of Public Safety.

For the Lab Safety, Hazardous Waste, Fire Safety, Safe Use of Formaldehyde and Xylene, and Bloodborne Pathogen in-person training , plaese check the scehdule:  http://www.ehs.columbia.edu/Training.html

Refresher training: Personnel can attend a live session or take an on-line refresher course via RASCAL: https://www.rascal.columbia.edu/myframe.html

EH&S can provide safety training in your laboratory.  Contact your Laboratory Safety Officer (212) 854-8749 for more information.

Q: What are the important numbers I need to know at LDEO?
A:

  • Lamont Safety Office:  (845) 365-8822 Fax: (845) 365-8860
  • Emergencies:  555

For a Hazardous Waste Pickup, send an email to:  hazwaste@admin.ldeo.columbia.edu
Office of Environmental Health and Radiation Safety at the Morningside Campus:

Q: What is a Certificate of Fitness (COF)?
A: A Certificate of Fitness is a permitting document, issued by the New York City Fire Department, for individuals conducting laboratory research within New York City.  A COF certifies that the holder is familiar with chemical safety, fire protection and fire suppression systems in the premises where they will be employed.

Q: Who needs to obtain a Certificate of Fitness?
A:  There must be one COF-holder present whenever the laboratory is occupied. Therefore, at least one person in each laboratory must obtain a COF.  To qualify as a COF-holder, a person must fulfill the following requirements:
The COF applicant must have completed a bachelor’s degree in an appropriate science and have a minimum of five years laboratory experience, or have a master’s degree and two years of laboratory experience.  The applicant must present a copy of his or her diploma or college transcript as proof of degree earned. http://nyc.gov/html/fdny/html/c_of_f/coff.shtml

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Q: What if someone does not meet the educational requirements or years-of- experience requirements and wants to obtain a COF?
A:  Individuals not meeting the educational or years-of-experience requirements may obtain a COF at New York City Fire Department Headquarters at 9 Metro Tech Center, Brooklyn N.Y.  For more information, go to the FDNY website at:  http://nyc.gov/html/fdny/html/c_of_f/coff.shtml

Q: How do I obtain a Certificate of Fitness (COF)?
A: A COF can be obtained at Columbia University through the EH&S. COF training and testing is offered on the 3rd Wednesday of every month at 2 pm in Mudd 351.  Contact the Fire Safety Assistant at (212) 854-8751 to schedule an appointment.  Please refer to the EH&S website for training materials.
http://www.ehs.columbia.edu/COFreq.html

Q: Where can I obtain an EH&S Wall Guide?
A: Contact your Laboratory Safety Officer or EH&S at (212) 854-8749.
http://www.ehs.columbia.edu/WallGuide.html

medical Center - (212) 305-6780

Q: Who is my Laboratory Safety Officer and how do I get in touch with them?
A. Contact Laboratory Safety Office rat labsafety@columbia.edu.

Q: I would like to exchange my mercury thermometer for an alcohol thermometer, what should I do?
A: EH&S operates a mercury thermometer exchange program.  Contact your LSO to exchange any unwanted mercury thermometers with alcohol thermometers.

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Q: My chemical fume hood is not working - what should I do? 
A: Fume hoods are certified annually by Laboratory Safety Officers.  If you suspect a problem with your fume hood, contact Facilities Service Center at (212) 854-2222 to place a work order for repair. 

Medical Center - contact Facilities at (212) 305-7367 to place a work order for repair. 

LDEO - contact your LSO or the Lamont Safety Office at (845) 365-8822.

Q: Does my laboratory require an eyewash?
A: Every laboratory using chemicals must have a plumbed eyewash.  If there is no plumbed eyewash in your laboratory, contact your LSO.

Q: Who is responsible for testing eyewashes?
A: Laboratory personnel are responsible for testing the eyewash on a weekly basis.  Test your eyewash weekly to ensure it is working properly and to keep the eyewash from accumulating dirt in the pipes.  A weekly log for eyewash testing is suggested. 

Q: There is no break room near my lab - can I eat at my bench?
A:  No food or drink is permitted in laboratories at any time.  This includes desks and non-laboratory workstations located within labs.

Q: My research requires the use of a respirator - are they any guidelines I need to follow?
A: A respirator is only necessary when engineering controls such as a fume hood or general ventilation do not reduce the exposure of a chemical to acceptable levels. You must contact EH&S prior to any respirator use.

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Laser Safety

Q: What does "LASER" stand for?
A: Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation 

Q: Do I need to let EH&S know about my laser?
A: EH&S maintains an inventory of all Class 3b and Class 4 lasers. Complete Attachment I, Appendix D and fax it to EH&S at (212) 316 -4937 at MS.

Medical Center - fax it to EH&S at (212)305-0318.

Q: If my laser is not a class 3b or class 4 laser, what should I do to make sure I use it safely?
A: These lasers are less likely to cause eye injuries when used properly. You should avoid staring into the laser light no matter what class of laser you are using. 

Q: Is any type of signage required for my laser laboratory?
A: Yes, for Class 3b and Class 4 lasers ANSI X136.1-2000 "Safe User of Lasers" requires the posting of warning signs. All signs shall be conspicuously displayed in locations where they can warn others before they enter the area.

Q: Who may operate a Class 3b or Class 4 lasers?
A: These lasers shall be operated under the direct supervision or control of an experienced, trained operator who shall maintain visual surveillance of conditions for safe use and terminate laser emission in the event of equipment malfunction or any other condition of unsafe use. 

Q: Is eye protection required?
A: Yes, eye protection devices that are specifically designed for protection against laser radiation are required and their use must be enforced. Engineering or other procedural and administrative controls must also be used to eliminate potential exposure hazard.

Q: How do I choose the appropriate eyewear?
A: Many factors shall be considered to determine the appropriate eyewear, i.e., laser power, wavelength, exposure time, comfort, etc. For more information, contact the laser manufacturer or EH&S. 

Q: How can I be sure that laser safety goggles I have selected provide enough protection?
A: Every pair of safety goggles intended for use with laser beams must bear a label with the information on the laser wavelengths for which they are intended to be used, the optical density of those wavelengths and the visible light transmission

Q: Do laser users need training?
A: Yes, the users of Class 3b and Class 4 laser systems must be appropriately trained in laser safety. In general, the principal investigator overseeing the laser system provides this training. It is also available at www.rascal.columbia.edu . Please contact EH&S if you need more information.

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Lead-based paint

Q: What is lead?
A:
Lead is a dense, gray, naturally-occurring metal that is an element. It is found in ore deposits in the earth where it is mined and then smelted.

Q: Where is lead used?
A:
Lead has a variety of uses. Because it is resistant to corrosion, malleable, has a low melting point and is used for shielding of ionizing radiation. Historically lead has been used in many products including but not limited to mortar, bullets, solder, paints, roof flashing and piping.

Q: When was lead-based paint used in houses?
A: Lead was commonly used in pre-1978 houses by utilizing residential household paint (and some varnishes or stains) prior to this date, particularly before 1950. Lead-based paint, when present, is more commonly found on the exterior of a house then the interior.

Q: Is lead based-paint still being made?
A: Lead-based paint (above .06 %) was banned, in the U.S., from residential household paint in 1978 by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. It is still available in some industrial, commercial, marine, applications as a paint or coating.

Q: How do I get my house tested for lead-based paint?
A
: Contact a qualified, certified Lead Inspector to perform a risk assessment and test for lead based paint by XRF or collecting and sending paint chip samples to an Environmental Testing Laboratory for lead analysis. 

Q: How can lead enter the body?  
A: There are two main routes for lead to enter the body, inhalation and ingestion.

Q: How can you protect yourself against lead?
A:
Simply stated, the best way to protect yourself is to prevent inhalation and ingestion of lead based paint. Ingestion results generally from hand and mouth contact, and to a lesser degree, as the result of breathing. Eating, smoking, chewing tobacco or gum with hands that are contaminated with lead dust, should be avoided.

Q: How does lead affect human health?
A:
The body mistake lead as calcium which then can affect various organs. Lead damages the brains, kidneys, nervous systems, red blood cells and reproductive system.

Q: Does lead affect everyone equally?
A:
No, young children, infants and fetuses are more vulnerable.

Q: What are some health concerns for children exposed to lead-based paint? 
A:
If not detected early, children with high levels of lead in their bodies can suffer from:

  • Damage to the brain and nervous system
  • Behavior and learning problems (such as hyperactivity)
  • Slowed growth
  • Hearing problems
  • Headaches

Q:  How can children be tested for lead?  
A:
Blood lead level (BLL) test is the best way to test for lead. You must talk to your Physician for tests.

Q: Are there any potential health problems for adults?
A:
Yes, lead may also be harmful to adults and they can suffer from:

  • Nerve disorders
  • High blood pressure
  • Memory and concentration problems
  • Muscle and joint problems
  • Digestive problems
  • Difficulties during pregnancy
  • Other reproductive problems (in both  men and women)
  • Very high levels may cause coma or death.
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PPE (Protective personal Equipment)

Q: What is eye and face protection?
A: Eye and face protection is the use of protective equipment such as spectacles, goggles, face shields, or welding shields that are designed to protect the wearer against a variety of hazards. Regular glasses do not provide adequate protection.

Q: When use of eye and face protection required?
A: OSHA's eye and face protection standard, 29 CFR 1910.133 , requires the use of eye and face protection when workers are exposed to eye or face hazards such as flying objects, molten metal, liquid chemicals, acids or caustic liquids, chemical gases or vapors, or potentially injurious light radiation. Assessment of hazards is necessary for selecting a proper PPE.

Q: Can any eye and face protection be used?
A: No, eye and face protection must be selected based on hazards to which the worker is exposed (i.e., impact, penetration, compression, chemical, heat, harmful dust, light radiation, or combination).

Q: Who certifies PPE and how it can be recognized?
A: The American National Standards Institute (ANSI). The manufacturer shall mark certified protective devices permanently and legibly, so that it can be easily identified. The mark shall not interfere with wearer's work.

Q: What can be done if I have a very small face and have trouble being fit tested for PPE?
A: Manufacturers make several different sizes. Eye and face protection may vary in size from manufacturer to manufacturer. Users may be able to get a better fit by trying eye and face protection made by another manufacturer. Call EH&S if you have any question.

Q: If I wear eyeglasses with prescription lenses, are these considered eye protection?
A: No, eyeglasses designed for ordinary wear do not provide the level of protection necessary to protect against workplace hazards.

Q: Can employees wear glasses while wearing eye and face protection?
A: Yes, special care must be taken when choosing eye protectors with corrective lenses eyeglasses such as prescription spectacles. Side shields and protective lenses must meet the requirements of ANSI Z87.1 standard. Goggles can fit comfortably over corrective eyeglasses without disturbing the alignment of the eyeglasses. Goggles can also incorporate corrective lenses mounted behind protective lenses.

Q: What maintenance and care is required for eye and face protection?
A: It is important that all eye and face protection be kept clean and properly maintained. Cleaning is particularly important where dirty or fogged lenses could impair vision.
Eye and face protection should be inspected, cleaned, and maintained at regular intervals so that equipment provides the requisite protection. It is also important to ensure that contaminated equipment, which cannot be decontaminated, is disposed of in a manner that protects employees from exposure to hazards.

Q: Can face shields protect employees instead of safety goggles or spectacles?
A: No, face shields alone do not protect employees from impact hazards. Face shields may be used in combination with safety goggles or spectacles to protect against impact.

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Radiation Safety

Dosimetry


Q: Who should wear a film badge?
A: All individuals whose work is associated with radiation who are likely to receive exposures above 10% of the limits stated in the Occupational Exposure Limit are required to wear a radiation dosimeter (above 5% of the limits for persons under 18 years of age). This includes individuals who work with x rays and radioactive materials in Radiology, Radiation Oncology, Nuclear Medicine, Nuclear Cardiology, and anywhere where fluoroscopy is used. Whole body badges and extremity badges are issued for a one-month wear cycle and are used to monitor exposure to X-ray and gamma-ray.

Q: How can I get a radiation monitoring badge?
A: In order to get a radiation monitoring badge you need to attend a Radiation Safety Training program. Once completed you should receive the badge within a week. You also need to do a yearly refresher thereafter. If you change department or will no longer need to monitor your radiation exposure contact RSO at 5-0303 or email at badges@columbia.edu

Q: How can I receive radiation safety training?
A: Radiation Safety training is offered at Morningside campus the first Tuesday of each month from 10 am to 12 noon. http://www.ehs.columbia.edu/TrainingSchedule.html

Q: When radiation monitoring badges are distributed?
A: Once you complete your radiation safety program your badge will be distributed on a monthly or quarterly basis. At that time old badges will be returned.RSO (Radiation Safety Officer) reviews each monthly report; however, you will only be contacted if the reading is above certain limit. At the end of each calendar year, you will receive a report describing your radiation exposure the previous year. You have the right to request, in writing, to see your exposure history at any time.

Q: Where should I wear a radiation monitoring badge?
A: The whole body dosimeter should be worn on the area of the whole body (from the knee up and elbow up) most likely to receive the highest exposure (e.g. on the upper chest area) with the identification sticker facing forward. If lead aprons are worn, the badge should be clipped to the shirt collar or to the outside of the top of the lead apron to measure exposure to the eyes. Supplemental badges, if issued, may be worn under the lead apron but readings obtained from such badges do not accurately measure exposure to the eyes or thyroid. Ring badges shall be worn on the dominant hand with the label facing in the direction that your hand will receive the highest radiation exposure. This badge must be protected from contamination; therefore, it must be worn under gloves when you are working with radioactive material.

Q: Can I share my radiation monitoring badge with another individual?
A: No, radiation monitoring badges are to be worn only by the individual to whom they are assigned to, and only during times when radiation exposure is due to your work duties.

Q: How do I find out about my radiation exposure?
A: Radiation monitoring records are maintained by the Radiation Safety Office and posted at your department. Monitored individuals are encouraged to view their radiation exposure readings.

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ALARA

Q: What is meant by ALARA?
A: In addition to providing a limit on a person’s annual radiation exposure, the regulatory agencies also requires that its licensees maintain occupational exposures to as low as reasonably achievable (ALARA) or as far below the limit as reasonably achievable.

Q: How much radiation can I be exposed to?
A: The maximum radiation that you can be exposed to depends on your work duties and who you are.

If you are a minor between 16-18 years of age working at the hospital under close supervision, your allowed limit is 100 mrem per year.
If you are a declared pregnant worker your limit is 500 mrem from the date you declared your pregnancy.
The limit for a non-radiation worker is 100 mrem per year. For a radiation worker is 5000 mrem per year. For the general public is 100 mrem per year.

All of these limits exclude any radiation you may receive form background radiation or any medical you may undergo as a patient.

Q: Who is a declared pregnant worker?
A: A declared pregnant worker is a worker who declares her pregnancy to her supervisor and the Office of Radiation Safety. This declaration must be in writing and include the estimated date of conception. Pregnant radiation workers are encouraged to declare their pregnancy to their supervisor and the RSO. A special film badge will be issued and radiation exposure reports will be monitor closely.

Q: How can I protect myself from external exposure?
A: There are three effective ways to minimize your external radiation exposure:

Time: The less time you spend with the radioactive material the less exposed you will be
Distance: The further away for the radioactive source the less exposure you will receive
Shielding: The use of an appropriate barrier will lower you exposure.

Q: How can I apply for a license to use radioactive material?
A: Application for the use of radioactive material can be obtained from the Radiation Safety Office. The application will be reviewed by the Radiation Safety Officer and by the Radiation Safety Committee.

Q: How can I have my radioactive waste picked up?
A: Fill on line the radioactive waste pick up form EH&S webpage http://vesta.cumc.columbia.edu/ehs/radioactivewastepickup/.
The waste will be picked up within two to three business days.

Q:  How often do I get my radiation exposure report?
A: the RSO (Radiation Safety Officer) reviews each monthly report; however, you will only be contacted if the reading is above certain limit. At the end of each calendar year, you will receive a report describing your radiation exposure the previous year. You have the right to request, in writing, to see your exposure history at any time.

Q: What is the policy for pregnant radiation workers?
A: Pregnant radiation workers are encouraged to declare their pregnancy to their supervisor and the RSO. A special film badge will be issued and radiation exposure reports will be monitor closely.

Q:  How can I receive radiation safety training?
A: Radiation Safety training is offered at Morningside campus the first Tuesday of each month from 10 am to 12 noon. http://www.ehs.columbia.edu/TrainingSchedule.html

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Respiratory Protection


Q:  I work with chemicals in a laboratory, do I need a respirator?
A:  In most cases, laboratory scale operations do not require use of a respirator. Use of a respirator is the last line of defense against chemical exposure.  In a laboratory setting, engineering controls (adequate ventilation, chemical fume hoods) are used to reduce/eliminate chemical exposures.  

Q:  I cannot work inside a fume hood, should I use a respirator?
A:  If you are working with hazardous chemicals and your work does not lend itself well to working inside a chemical fume hood, call EH&S to discuss options for working safely. It may be possible to change the procedure, substitute a less hazardous chemical, or use another facility within CU to safely accommodate your procedure.  If exposure cannot be minimized/eliminated, then a respiratory may be required.

Q:  EH&S has determined that I need a respirator to work with hazardous chemicals, how do I obtain one?
A:  Each person requiring a respirator must be medically cleared; fit tested and trained to use a respirator. EH&S will help in selection, fit testing and providing training in proper maintenance of a respirator (as required by the OSHA’s Respiratory Protection Standard).

Q:  Can I purchase a respirator from a hardware store?
A:  No.  Improper use of a respirator could result in serious injury or even death. Without proper training and fit testing use
of a respirator is a violation of OSHA regulations. 

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