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Chemical Management & Usage - Summary

A series of explosions and fires prompted the Burlington Board of Health (BOH) in 1992 to initiate a comprehensive review of chemical storage, usage, and disposal within the Burlington public school system. This section provides a summary of BOH findings as well as brief discussions of several recent hazardous materials incidents involving local schools. The discussion has been divided into areas of interest related to various sections of the school department (e.g. subsections related to the high school art and science departments). In addition, tips, suggestions, lessons learned, and a listing of potentially useful resources have also been provided to assist the reader in conducting a similar assessment at their school.

Significant observations noted during the chemical hygiene assessment process included: a) the discovery of chemical hazards at all grade levels, b) a long-term practice of accepting chemical donations had caused the high school to become a potential disposal option for local industry, and c) prior to this investigation little effort was exerted to determine environmental, or health and safety considerations associated with chemical usage within the classroom. Major achievements resulting from this activity have included: a) the removal of approximately 80 drums of hazardous chemicals which included radioactive materials, explosives, controlled narcotics, and poisonous gases, b) the establishment of formal chemical disposal practices, and c) the creation of chemical review procedures.

These efforts have enabled BOH to improve the safety of the students and faculty, improve indoor air quality, promote the proper disposal of hazardous waste, and to strive for enhanced regulatory compliance.

prepared by Todd H. Dresser, Environmental Engineer
(formerly of)
Burlington Board of Health, 29 Center Street, Burlington, MA 01803

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