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Healthy School Environments

Classroom and Laboratory Resources

A picture of students doing an experiment
Why It's Important
  • The chemicals and products used in science, art or vocational programs have certain potential dangers.
  • However, with careful planning, most dangers can be avoided in such activity-oriented programs to ensure students' safety while benefiting from their use.
What You Can Do
  • Properly store and dispose of chemicals used in the classroom.
  • Look for the Design for the Environment (DfE) label on products. The DfE label helps you quickly identify and choose products that help protect the environment and are safer for families.
  • Develop policies, if not already in place, about how to keep children safe when chemicals are present.
A figure depicting the cover of Environmental Compliance and Best Management Practices Guidance Manual for K-12 Schools

This EPA website presents two free manuals on best management practices for schools' environmental concerns. One is a primary environmental compliance guide for K-12 schools, while the other serves the same purpose for art programs at K-12 schools, colleges and art studios:

Find More From...

EPA and Federal Partners

National Organizations

  • The American Chemistry Society's Green Chemistry Institute Exit EPA Disclaimer  provides resources on the principles of green chemistry. Some of the resources include lesson plans and textbooks.
  • Science and Safety: Making the Connection (PDF) Exit EPA Disclaimer (16pp, 243K)  by the Council of State Science Supervisors offers answers to science teachers' frequently asked questions about laboratory safety issues. The document was sponsored by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the National Institutes of Health.
  • Chem Info Net Exit EPA Disclaimer  from ChemSafe Consulting is a chemical health and safety resource for teachers, administrators and service personnel, focusing on waste/hazardous waste management, laboratory safety and chemicals used in the science curriculum. The information is based on current regulations and prudent practices; users should consult local and state agencies if standards or procedures are unclear.

Regional, State and Local Resources

  • School Chemicals Management and Small Scale Chemistry Workshop Exit EPA Disclaimer by the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality offer presentations and handouts to help schools address chemical management in school science labs.
  • Green Your Lesson Plan Exit EPA Disclaimer by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency discusses lesson plans that can be incorporated into curricula on environmental topics. Topics addressed include chemistry, green energy, waste reduction and air quality.
  • Green Chemistry Experiments for High Schools Exit EPA Disclaimer  is a scholarship project developed by Union University (Tennessee) that lists green chemistry manuals and lab experiments that use less hazardous chemicals.
  • Idaho's Chemical Roundup Program and Toolkit for Schools Exit EPA Disclaimer  by the state’s Department of Environmental Quality provides fact sheets on best practices for pollution prevention in school labs, chemical inventory, storage and disposal.
  • Montana's School Labs Waste Management Exit EPA Disclaimer  on the Department of Environmental Quality website helps schools evaluate their chemical management practices including safety procedures for conducting inventories, a suggested chemical inventory list, information about historical trainings held in the state, and photos illustrating poor chemical management. Results of a 2004 statewide inventory are also posted on this site.
  • Rehab the Lab : Creating Safer School Labs Exit EPA Disclaimer is a program in King County, Washington, to help schools manage their hazardous chemicals. You can download fully scripted lesson plans for least-toxic chemistry labs, information on ways to reduce chemical stockpiles in biology labs, and a list of chemicals whose risks outweigh their educational utility.
  • The Mercury Education & Reduction Campaign - School Science Lab Chemical and Mercury Cleanout Project Exit EPA Disclaimer  from the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation helps school science labs with the inventory and cleanout of unwanted, unlabeled and unknown hazardous lab chemicals, including mercury and mercury compounds.

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