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March 30, 2011

Prudent Practices Updated

ACS Meeting News: Manual for safe handling, storage, and disposal of chemicals receives a makeover

Jyllian Kemsley

NRC's Kathryn Hughes (left) gives safety consultant and revision committee member Russell Phifer (center) and Meridian Life Science's Cynthia Perrine (right) a first look at the new edition of Linda Wang/C&EN
NRC's Kathryn Hughes (left) gives safety consultant and revision committee member Russell Phifer (center) and Meridian Life Science's Cynthia Perrine (right) a first look at the new edition of "Prudent Practices."
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The widely used manual of laboratory safety, "Prudent Practices in the Laboratory: Handling and Disposal of Chemicals," has been revised for the first time in 16 years by a committee of the National Research Council (NRC). Several committee members presented the updated manual during a Division of Chemical Health & Safety symposium on Tuesday at the ACS national meeting in Anaheim.

"We looked at every page of the previous book and either verified that the information was good or updated it," one of the session speakers, Peter Reinhardt, director of Yale University's Office of Environmental Health & Safety, tells C&EN in a separate interview.

The new edition of the book—published by the National Academies, which encompasses NRC—contains updated information on handling, storage, and disposal of hazardous chemicals, as well as some guidelines for handling biohazardous or radioactive material, the NRC committee says. Committee members say it also covers new topics, including nanomaterials, green chemistry, lab security, and lab decommissioning.

NRC committee cochair Barbara L. Foster, safety coordinator at West Virginia University, highlights the revised volume's expanded information on chemical management, which covers purchasing, handling, storage, transport, and waste, as well as the various regulations that apply to those tasks.

The committee's other cochair, William F. Carroll Jr., vice president of Occidental Chemical and a past-president of ACS, tells C&EN that he has one message for chemists about the new edition of the book: "No matter who you are, if you think this book isn't for you, you're wrong—it is."

The book is designed to be useful in academic, industrial, and government laboratories, NRC committee members say. Aside from chemistry, they say the manual also applies to biology, engineering, or other laboratories that handle chemicals. The previous edition was published in 1995 and combined and updated two manuals from the 1980s.

The committee, which began work in 2008, was composed of laboratory safety experts from academia, industry, and government. In addition to its own review of the manual, the NRC committee surveyed other experts to choose new topics to cover.

One issue that came up was how to decommission a lab when someone retires or moves or when a building needs renovation, Reinhardt said. The topic is not new to laboratories, he added, but there's increasing recognition that space needs to be clean and that anyone who enters must be safe. The updated manual includes a decommissioning checklist provided in a CD of supplemental information.

The book is available to order or view online at the National Academies website, The update project received funding from the Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation, and the National Institutes of Health, in addition to several chemical and materials companies, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and the American Chemical Society, which publishes C&EN.

Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © 2011 American Chemical Society
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