AN ANALYSIS OF CHEMICAL WASTE DISPOSAL IN THE DALHOUSIE UNDERGRADUATE CHEMISTRY LABORATORIES
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This research project is one of many within the Greening the Campus movement; using the campus as a laboratory for creating a model of sustainability within the community. Chemical disposal practices were examined in the first year chemistry laboratory at Dalhousie University to determine whether current methods were sustainable or whether improvements could be made. There were a total of five main research objectives: to examine chemical disposal procedures, determine how chemical waste is treated once it leaves the first year chemistry laboratory, determine whether Dalhousie University’s wastewater is in compliance with Halifax Regional Municipality’s wastewater standards, determine what instructions are given to students in the first year chemistry laboratory, and determine if the students and the staff are following chemical disposal procedures if there are any. Data was collected by administering group questionnaires to first year chemistry students, and conducting interviews with the Director of Environmental Health and Safety and the two first year laboratory instructors at Dalhousie University. Finally, a document analysis of literature pertaining to chemical waste disposal in Dalhousie and its parent community, the Halifax Regional Municipality, was conducted. It was found that Dalhousie University does not have a written policy on chemical disposal in the first year chemistry laboratory. Results from the questionnaire indicated that 83% of students felt they were given safety instructions, but not chemical disposal instructions. The students surveyed also responded that there either there was not or could nor remember if there was a disposal containers present in the laboratory. The results also suggested that over 70 percent of the time the disposal methods were not emphasized adequately to students as they often were unaware of whether they were using the proper disposal methods. Many recommendations have resulted from this report, all of which would lead to a more environmentally sustainable campus and more responsible disposal practices. Implementing a firm policy on chemical disposal, improving signage, written instructions in each lab procedure, microscaling, and emphasizing proper chemical disposal methods by the lab instructors would lessen Dalhousie University’s impact on the environment.