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--CFL Recycling
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Pollution Prevention / Waste Minimization Program

Laboratory Product Substitution Opportunities

There are many chemical product substitution opportunities for laboratories. Please consider incorporating as many of the following into your research as practicable. The environment will benefit and so will your laboratory.

Cleaning/Sterilizing/Rinsing Substitution Opportunities:

  • Lab glass cleaning: "No-Chromix," enzymatic cleaners, detergents, etc. instead of chromerge (sulfuric acid-sodium dichromate).
  • Histology labs: alcohol fixative (less toxic) instead of formaldehyde and citric acid-based preparatory chemicals.
  • Quaternary amine detergents instead of isopropyl alcohol as sterilizing agent for equipment, particularly in medical studies.
  • Ethanol instead of methanol in dehydrating and rinsing processes.

Thermometer Substitution Opportunities:

  • Alcohol/glycol instead of mercury. Note: EH&S provides free non-mercury thermometers to laboratories. See our web page for details.

Academic/Teaching Substitution Opportunities:

  • Use of nonhazardous chemicals in chemistry teaching laboratories:
    (1) Potassium sodium tartarate in density studies; or,
    (2) Calcium chloride, magnesium sulfate, sodium carbonate, potassium chloride, potassium iodate, sodium oxalate, etc., in "unknown" studies, calorimetric studies, molal volume studies, synthesis studies, kinetic measurement studies.

Radioactive Material Substitution Opportunities:

  • LLR: biodegradable scintillation cocktails.
  • Use of vendor-proprietary nonradioactive scintillation proximity assays instead of :-32 or S-35 in sequencing studies.
  • Vendor-proprietary electrochemiluminescence (ECL) materials substituted for P-32 and S-35 in DNA labeling and southern blot analysis, etc.
  • Shorter half-life radioisotopes substituted, such as P-33 for P-32 (orthophosphate studies), P-33 or P-32 for S-35 (nucleotide and deoxynucleotide studies), and I-131 for I-125 (thyroid research).
  • Use of O-18 and deuterium plus mass spectrometry as substitutes of O-19 and tritium.

Other Substitution Opportunities:

  • Use SYBR Safe DNA gel stain instead of ethidium bromide (a known mutagen).
  • Iron-salicylic complex instead of copper-ammonia complex in Beer's Law studies.
  • Organic oxidants for chromium (IV) oxidants-oxalyl chloride/dimethyl sulfoxide in Swern oxidation of alcohols.
  • Substitutes for fluoride and fluorinating reagents, such as perchloryl fluoride - F-TEDA-B54 (1-chloromethyl-4-fluoro- 1,4 diazonia [2,2,2] bicyclotane).
  • Compressed pure oxygen gas instead of compressed CFC gases for purging microtubing in optic ganglia physiology studies.
  • Substitutes for organic solvents in liquid-liquid extraction or chromatography:
    (1) Supercritical carbon dioxide for organic solvents in high-performance chromatography;
    (2) Toluene for benzene (less toxic);
    (3) Methyl tert-butyl ether for diethyl ether (does not form explosive peroxides).
  • Copper sulfate catalysts for mercury sulfate or selenium metal catalysts in Kjeldahl analyses.

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