VIGNETTE 5.1Pollution prevention reduces solvent waste

A pollution prevention assessment of one organic chemistry research laboratory at a university revealed that each of the 25 researchers in the group used 1 L of solvent, usually acetone, every week to clean and/or rinse glassware, spatulas, and other items used in their procedures. For example, a researcher might rinse a spatula with acetone at the end of a procedure or use a solvent to speed the drying process after cleaning with soap and water. The excuses for using the solvent ranged from not having enough glassware available (thus the need to expedite drying) to lack of good brushes for cleaning residue to simply taking a shortcut to the cleaning process.

The lab purchased more glassware, better brushes, and an ultrasonicator that uses a mild detergent. The savings in solvent purchase and disposal paid back the price of the new purchases within 3 months. Later, the lab installed under-the-bench lab dishwashers, which resulted in even further reductions in solvent use for cleaning.

From: 5, Management of Chemicals

Cover of Prudent Practices in the Laboratory
Prudent Practices in the Laboratory: Handling and Management of Chemical Hazards: Updated Version.
National Research Council (US) Committee on Prudent Practices in the Laboratory.
Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2011.
Copyright © 2011, National Academy of Sciences.

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