Chemistry Laboratory Closeout

by Carolina Staff
chemistry lab

Ready for a break from the lab? Follow these steps to close up the lab so it is ready when you return.

It’s time to clean up, organize, and secure the lab for summer vacation. We created a checklist of suggested tasks (see below) to help make this project less time-consuming. However, this list cannot cover all aspects of every different lab. So start from this list and document the steps you perform to create your own comprehensive, customized checklist for next year.

Begin with the chemical inventory in order to maximize the time available for organizing waste chemicals and arranging for their disposal. Then perform the remaining tasks in any order you choose. As you work through the list, make the next year-end process easier by identifying which jobs are appropriate for completing during the school year. Some tasks (e.g., cleaning glassware) are so quick and easy to do that students can complete them immediately after a lab, whereas other tasks (e.g., repairing equipment) require more time, attention, and skill.

Perform a Chemical Inventory

  1. Return all chemicals to the chemical storage area. Remember to check fume hoods for any chemicals.
  2. Ensure that all containers are labeled appropriately with full substance name, concentration (for solutions), and pertinent hazard information (e.g. personal protective equipment [PPE] required for handling the chemical).
  3. Store compatible chemicals together. Refer to this guide for proper storage.
  4. For each container, record the substance name, approximate amount of chemical in the container, and its location (room, rack, and shelf).
  5. Assess the condition of each container. Transfer the contents from a failed or failing container to a new container, label it appropriately, and securely close it.
  6. Identify any chemicals for disposal. Notify appropriate school personnel to arrange pickup, or consider asking other teachers in your school or district whether they can use them. Remember: If you don’t plan to use it, lose it. Note: If you have mercury thermometers, consider discarding them. Many districts forbid their use. These thermometers must be disposed of as hazardous waste.
  7. Maintain SDS (Safety Data Sheets) for every unique substance in your inventory and make this information readily available. Share the location of SDS information with other science department staff and your administration.
  8. Ensure that chemical spill kits are fully outfitted for the following year.
  9. Secure the chemical storage area and document the names of people who have access to it. Share this list of names with your school’s administration.

Note: Reconsider your use of hazardous chemicals and, if possible, replace them with less toxic substitutes. This table identifies hazardous chemicals and suggests less toxic substitutes. Suggestions also appear on some Carolina product description pages (online and print catalogs) for replacing hazardous substances with their less toxic substitutes. In addition, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health publishes a comprehensive list of chemicals whose hazardous nature outweighs their educational value.

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