Prevention / Waste Minimization Program
Laboratory Product Substitution Opportunities
There are many chemical product substitution opportunities
for laboratories. Please consider incorporating as many of the following
into your research as practicable. The environment will benefit
and so will your laboratory.
- Lab glass cleaning: "No-Chromix," enzymatic
cleaners, detergents, etc. instead of chromerge (sulfuric acid-sodium
- Histology labs: alcohol fixative (less toxic) instead
of formaldehyde and citric acid-based preparatory chemicals.
- Quaternary amine detergents instead of isopropyl
alcohol as sterilizing agent for equipment, particularly in medical
- Ethanol instead of methanol in dehydrating and
- Alcohol/glycol instead of mercury. Note: EH&S
provides free non-mercury thermometers to laboratories. See our
web page for details.
- Use of nonhazardous chemicals in chemistry teaching
(1) Potassium sodium tartarate in density studies; or,
(2) Calcium chloride, magnesium sulfate, sodium carbonate, potassium
chloride, potassium iodate, sodium oxalate, etc., in "unknown"
studies, calorimetric studies, molal volume studies, synthesis
studies, kinetic measurement studies.
- LLR: biodegradable scintillation cocktails.
- Use of vendor-proprietary nonradioactive scintillation
proximity assays instead of :-32 or S-35 in sequencing studies.
- Vendor-proprietary electrochemiluminescence (ECL)
materials substituted for P-32 and S-35 in DNA labeling and southern
blot analysis, etc.
- Shorter half-life radioisotopes substituted, such
as P-33 for P-32 (orthophosphate studies), P-33 or P-32 for S-35
(nucleotide and deoxynucleotide studies), and I-131 for I-125
- Use of O-18 and deuterium plus mass spectrometry
as substitutes of O-19 and tritium.
- Use SYBR Safe DNA gel stain instead of ethidium bromide (a known mutagen).
- Iron-salicylic complex instead of copper-ammonia
complex in Beer's Law studies.
- Organic oxidants for chromium (IV) oxidants-oxalyl
chloride/dimethyl sulfoxide in Swern oxidation of alcohols.
- Substitutes for fluoride and fluorinating
reagents, such as perchloryl fluoride - F-TEDA-B54 (1-chloromethyl-4-fluoro-
1,4 diazonia [2,2,2] bicyclotane).
- Compressed pure oxygen gas instead of compressed
CFC gases for purging microtubing in optic ganglia physiology
- Substitutes for organic solvents in liquid-liquid
extraction or chromatography:
(1) Supercritical carbon dioxide for organic solvents in high-performance
(2) Toluene for benzene (less toxic);
(3) Methyl tert-butyl ether for diethyl ether (does not form explosive
- Copper sulfate catalysts for mercury sulfate
or selenium metal catalysts in Kjeldahl analyses.
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