The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finalized the Academic Laboratory rule to help improve the environmental performance of teaching and research laboratories that are owned by eligible academic entities. This rule is aimed at increasing regulatory flexibility, while enhancing safe management of hazardous waste.
Eligible academic entities include colleges and universities, and teaching hospitals and non-profit research institutes that are either owned by or formally affiliated with a college or university. Under the new rule, these eligible academic entities will be able to decide where (at the laboratory, at an on-site central accumulation area, or at an on-site treatment, storage or disposal facility) the hazardous waste determination is made. A lab also must ensure that certain conditions are met to protect human health and the environment. According to EPA, this flexibility allows eligible academic entities to determine the most effective and environmentally protective method of compliance and also ensures that a RCRA-trained professional will be making the hazardous waste determination. The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) governs the management of hazardous wastes.
The Academic Laboratory 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.
More information can be found on the EPA Web site.