Healthy School Environments
Classroom and Laboratory Resources
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.
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
- Safe Lab: School Chemistry Laboratory Safety Guide (PDF) (88pp, 1.18MB) provides teachers, and ultimately their students, with information so they can take the appropriate precautions to prevent or minimize hazards, harmful exposures and injuries in the laboratory. It was written by the Consumer Product Safety Commission and CDC's National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
- The Pollution Prevention Measures for Safer School Laboratories Information Kit (PDF) (10pp, 130K), developed by EPA offers tips on maintaining an inventory, chemical purchasing, storage and labeling, and pollution prevention.
- No More "Methyl Something": Improving Management of Curriculum Chemicals in Schools (PDF) (42pp, 581K) by EPA discusses where chemicals are found, the risks of chemicals, chemical storage practices, actions that can be taken to reduce chemical risks and chemical resources.
- The American Chemistry Society's Green Chemistry Institute provides resources on the principles of green chemistry. Some of the resources include lesson plans and textbooks.
- Science and Safety: Making the Connection (PDF) (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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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.