Jump to main content.

Executive Summary - Chemical Management Resource Guide for School Administrators

Read the complete Chemical Management Resource Guide for School Administrators

Are There Dangerous Chemicals in Your School?

picture of chemical flask

Chemicals help students to perform experiments and learn new skills, among other benefits, and, in the absence of chemicals, schools would lack certain fundamental tools needed to educate students. Despite their useful purposes, chemicals can be dangerous to students and staff when managed improperly. The Chemical Management Resource Guide for School Administrators applies to any school that purchases, uses, stores, or disposes of chemicals or products containing dangerous materials. This document will help readers to identify and address potential chemical hazards in schools.

Does Your School Have These Types of Problems?

picture of two poorly labeled bottles of chemicals

Incorrectly or mislabeled chemicals?

Chemicals that are not correctly and clearly labeled, as shown in the photos to the left, should be disposed of properly. Products used in schools should have an MSDS, be stored in their original containers, and be correctly and clearly labeled.

picture of poorly stored chemicals on shelves

Improper storage practices?

To avoid a situation like the one shown in the photo, schools should establish a chemical storage and handling policy that addresses how chemicals should be properly stored, labeled, and secured, as well as who should have access to them.

picture of four bottles of chemicals

Existing stocks of outdated, unknown, degraded, and excessive quantities of hazardous chemicals?

These types of chemicals are present in many schools, posing safety and health risks to students and school personnel. Identifying and removing these chemicals is a key step in preventing accidents. Schools should establish a chemical disposal policy that addresses how unused and outdated chemicals and products containing chemicals should be properly removed.

Who Should Read This Guidance?

picture of school principal's 
desk plate

The Chemical Management Resource Guide for School Administrators is designed primarily for school administrators (principals and other policymakers), but may also be of value to teachers, maintenance personnel, superintendents, school business officials, insurance industry risk managers, and parents. This document is intended to aid K-12 public school districts and private, religious, and independent schools and school system policymakers in reducing dangerous chemical use and implementing responsible chemical management practices. Institutionalizing such practices will help to minimize the incidence of chemical spills, exposures, and emergency scenarios in schools. This document focuses on broad policy considerations that EPA recommends school administrators consider implementing to properly manage and use chemicals.

TheChemical Management Resource Guide for School Administrators is part of EPA's Healthy School Environments Initiative. The Healthy School Environments website (http://www.epa.gov/schools) serves as a gateway to on-line resources to help school administrators, teachers, facility managers and other staff, and parents address environmental health issues in schools. This document is also an integral part of the EPA Schools Chemical Cleanout Campaign (SC3) toolkit. The goals of the SC3 are to: remove potentially harmful chemicals from schools; emphasize the implementation of preventive programs such as chemical management training for lab instructors; and raise national awareness of the issue of chemicals in schools. The ultimate goal of the SC3 is to create a chemically safer school environment in which chemicals are purchased wisely, stored safely, handled by trained personnel, used responsibly, and disposed of properly.

For additional information, contact your EPA Regional Office or consult on-line resources to understand environmental health issues in schools, such as EPA's SC3 and EPA's HealthySEAT, another tool developed by EPA as a resource to address chemical management and other environmental, safety, and health issues. When implemented effectively, chemical management promotes awareness about the range of chemicals and products used in schools and creates a healthier and safer atmosphere for school occupants and the surrounding environment.

The time and effort that many individuals contributed to the review and development of this document is gratefully acknowledged by the EPA. This document was prepared by Battelle Memorial Institute under contract EP-W-04-021 at the direction of Mr. Clarence Lewis of the EPA Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics.


Local Navigation

Jump to main content.