Old Chemicals

Since we’ve been away from the labs for some time, some chemical products—laboratory reagents, solvents, paints, adhesives, etc.—have had time to age. Sometimes this is harmless (e.g., a sealed bottle of alcohol); other times it can degrade the utility of the product (e.g., dried out paint); and in some cases it can be downright dangerous (e.g., picric acid, a chemical used in metallurgy, becomes a shock-sensitive explosive if it dries out).

Regardless of the effect on the chemicals, this is an excellent time to clean out chemicals that are expired or unwanted. Take the time to look through your chemical cabinets to identify what you don’t need. In addition to expired or degraded chemicals, consider disposing anything you haven’t used in 3 years unless you’ve got a grant or a grant application for which you’ll use that chemical.

The Department of Health, Safety, and Environment will pick up excess chemicals in buildings that are not connected to Macaulay Hall (where their excess chemical storage room is located). Use the form at https://orchid.hosts.jhmi.edu/hse/webtools/wasteform/ to request a pickup; note someone must be present in the lab for the chemicals to be picked up. If you are in a building connected to Macaulay through the steam tunnels, transport your excess chemicals to the Macaulay Hall storage room Thursday 9am-12pm. Totes are available from the storage room for safe transport of chemicals.

If you have questions about how to adapt your work and current safety procedures to work well with the COVID-19 precautions, contact Dr. Daniel Kuespert, Homewood Laboratory Safety Advocate, at [email protected]. See Dr. Kuespert’s website, https://labsafety.jhu.edu, for more safety information. As always, emergency response is available from Security at 410-516-7777.