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Prudent Practices in the Laboratory: Handling and Disposal of Chemicals
office in the organization. This office or another responsible office must maintain a written record of the allegation in its files. TSCA requires that this record be kept for 5 years if made by someone outside the organization, and for 30 years if made by an employee.
One set of regulations under TSCA speaks directly to research facilities, colleges, and universities, however. Those are the regulations governing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and monochlorobiphenyl. Essentially, PCB manufacturing in concentrations of more than 50 ppm is banned, and PCB use in any concentration is banned unless used in a "totally enclosed manner." There are exceptions to these conditions. Two of possible relevance to researchers are those that allow the use of "small quantities for research and development" and use "as an immersion oil in microscopy." Because of the stringency of regulation, researchers contemplating working with PCBs should contact their institution's environmental health and safety office or the regional EPA office to determine any applicable requirements.
The most common use of PCBs is as dielectric fluid in transformers, capacitors, and other electrical equipment. Although PCB-containing equipment is no longer manufactured, PCB-containing transformers are still in use. PCBs are often found in transformers and capacitors of laboratory equipment, especially high-voltage transformers. Such items should be tested and appropriate steps taken before continued use or disposal. Any leaking oil from a transformer should be checked for PCB content.
Due to the bioaccumulation of PCBs, EPA has issued very strict regulations governing the use, servicing, and disposal of PCB-containing transformers. While most PCB-containing transformers may continue to be used for the remainder of their useful lives, they must be inventoried, inspected frequently for leaks, and serviced in accordance with stringent EPA procedures, and they are subject to record-keeping and reporting requirements. EPA offices have been very rigorous in the enforcement of the PCB regulations, and large fines have been imposed on some institutions. Researchers should notify their institution's environmental health and safety office of any transformers or capacitors that might contain PCBs.
9.HREGULATION OF LABORATORY DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION
Laboratory design and construction are regulated mainly by state and local laws that incorporate, by reference, generally accepted standard practices set out in various uniform codes, such as the Uniform Building Code, the Uniform Fire Code, and the National Fire Protection Association standards. For laboratory buildings where hazardous chemicals are stored or used, there are detailed requirements covering such things as spill control, drainage, containment, ventilation, emergency power, special controls for hazardous gases, fire prevention, and building height.
In addition, OSHA standards affect some key laboratory design and construction issues, for example, eyewashes, safety showers, and special ventilation requirements. Other consensus standards prepared by organizations such as the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) are relevant to laboratory design. It is not uncommon for various codes and consensus standards to be incorporated into state or federal regulations.