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New EPA Rule Focuses on Academic Labs (posted 12/16/08)

December 16, 2008
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The rule aims to help improve the environmental performance of teaching and research laboratories owned by eligible academic entities.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finalized its Academic Laboratory rule to help improve the environmental performance of teaching and research laboratories owned by eligible academic entities. The rule provides increased regulatory flexibility while enhancing safe management of hazardous waste. Eligible academic entities include colleges and universities, teaching hospitals, and nonprofit research institutes that are either owned by or formally affiliated with a college or university.

Eligible academic entities will be able to decide where the hazardous waste determination is made (at the laboratory; at an on-site central accumulation area; or at an on-site treatment, storage or disposal facility). They also must ensure that certain conditions are met to protect human health and the environment. According to the EPA, this flexibility not only allows eligible academic entities to determine the most effective and environmentally protective method of compliance, but it also ensures that a RCRA-trained professional will be making the hazardous waste determination.

The rule requires the development of a laboratory management plan, which is expected to result in safer laboratory practices and increased awareness of hazardous waste management. In addition, the rule provides incentives for eligible academic entities to dispose of old and expired chemicals that may pose unnecessary risk.

For more information, visit www.epa.gov/osw/hazard/generation/labwaste/.

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