Environmental Health and Safety at CSU

At Chicago State University, the safety of our students, employees, and the local community is our highest priority. We also strive to use environmentally responsible practices whenever possible. In order to achieve these goals, we follow a number of policies and practices, as well as specialized safety equipment. Areas of safety include Emergency Response, Indoor Air Quality, Laboratory Safety, and Hazardous Waste Management. If you have a question about an area not discussed here, please contact the Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) Specialist or the Life Safety Specialist at the contact information shown on the PFPM website Directory.

Emergency Response & Preparedness
In case of emergency, the most important rule is: DON'T PANIC! Panicking will not help the situation, and will probably make situation worse. Staying calm and in control can make the situation much easier to manage, both for you and emergency responders.

Understanding what to do in an emergency situation before emergency actually occur is an excellent way to be prepared and able to take actions that can save lives and prevent further damage. The University Police have prepared guidance on how to prepare for and respond to a wide range of different emergencies, including crime, fires, chemical spills, and extreme weather conditions. It is strongly recommended for all people affiliated with the University to carefully review the Emergency Guide.

Emergency Guide

Indoor Air Quality
Some potential health threats can be controlled more easily than others. For example, the use of properly working laboratory fume hoods will prevent air contamination from lab work, however not smoking inside or near the entrances of buildings will prevent exposure to secondhand smoke and carbon monoxide.

If you believe there is an air quality issue that needs to be addressed, email the EHS specialist and arrange for a consultation. Providing information on when the issue seems to be occurring or other additional details will likely assist the investigation.

ABSOLUTELY NO SMOKING IS ALLOWED IN CSU BUILDINGS. This includes within 15 feet of the entryways to a building, and also includes electronic cigarettes and any other tobacco products. This mandate comes from the Smoke Free Illinois Act, 410 ILCS 82.

Asbestos Awareness
Asbestos is a mineral that naturally occurs in the form of fibers that were historically used in building materials. Inhaling asbestos fibers is a known cause of cancer, and should always be avoided. However, asbestos fibers present much less hazard if they are bound into building materials, as they must be disturbed or damaged in order to become airborne. Several of the buildings from the original construction on CSU campus may contain building materials with bound asbestos, particularly in spray-on fireproofing and floor tile.

The asbestos present at CSU does not present a health hazard unless it is damaged. Check with the EHS specialist before you do any work in any of the CSU campus buildings. Especially those which involve working above a suspended ceiling or could involve breaking the floor tile. The EHS specialist can discuss methods of preventing asbestos from being released.

Asbestos Awareness Training
All Physical Facilities Planning and Management employees must complete Asbestos Awareness training annually. Sessions will be held for all shifts as scheduled by PFPM.

Mold Awareness
Mold spores are a common occurrence. The microscopic fungi are a natural part of the decay of dead plants in the environment, and small amounts of mold spores are found in almost every building. Dry building materials are generally not vulnerable to mold growth, but wet building materials can be a fertile environment for mold growth. As the mold grows, it produces spores that enter the air. Significant quantities of mold spores can irritate the airways of susceptible people or produce other adverse health.

Promptly report water leaks or damages to the PFPM on extension 2140 and your department head; consequently, it is important to act quickly, the longer mold has a chance to grow, the more difficult it is to remove. Submit a work order (following your department's work order policy) to have the situation corrected promptly. If you suspect the presence of mold growth in an area, please contact Physical Facilities to arrange for a consultation.

Laboratory Safety
There are departments across the CSU campus that work with chemicals on a laboratory scale. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), laboratory scale means "work with substances in which the containers used for reactions, transfers, and other handling of substances are designed to be easily and safely manipulated by one person. 'Laboratory scale' excludes those workplaces whose function is to produce commercial quantities of materials."

All workers in laboratories, including student assistants and researchers, should receive training in laboratory safety. Online safety training is currently in development. Please contact the EHS specialist if you need assistance in arranging safety training.

Laboratory supervisors are responsible for identifying hazardous chemicals that require special handling procedures, such as pyrophoric chemicals or other highly reactive materials. The EHS specialist can assist in the developing these standard operating procedures, and assist in determining the best approach for working with particularly hazardous substances.

Laboratory scale work with hazardous materials at CSU is governed by the Chemical Hygiene Plan, regardless of department. If you have questions about the chemical hygiene plan, please contact our EHS Specialist at email shown in the PFPM Directory.

Hazardous Waste Management

A number of university operations produce waste that maybe defined as hazardous. The US Environmental Protection Agency defines hazardous waste as waste that is listed as a hazardous waste or possesses at least one of the four hazardous characteristics:

  • Ignitability
  • Corrosivity
  • Reactivity
  • Toxicity

Contact the EHS specialist if you need assistance in determining if a waste is hazardous. Laboratory hazardous wastes are normally removed once per semester, but special pickups can be arranged for laboratory cleanouts. Each department that generates hazardous wastes on a regular basis should have a contact person. Speak with your department head for more information.

The Laboratory Waste Management Plan describes how the university manages potentially hazardous waste generated in laboratories. If you have questions about laboratory waste, please contact our EHS Specialist at the email shown on the PFPM Directory.

Laboratory Waste Labels

All waste containers need to be labeled accurately with the contents and the date the waste was first added to the container (The accumulation start date). The PDF files are designed to make it easy to list all of the necessary information on the labels, and include the Avery Label Number in case you would like to make your own labels.

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I do with the container that used to hold a hazardous material?

If the container is empty, you can place it in the garbage or recycling after you make the label unreadable (such as by painting over it or removing it from the bottle). A good rule of thumb to know if a container is empty is that empty containers do not drip or otherwise have materials fall out when held upside down.

Can I neutralize/treat a waste so that I can dispose of it as normal waste?

Unless the treatment is part of the chemical reaction process, you should not try to treat hazardous waste. The only exception is neutralization of corrosive wastes that have no other hazardous characteristics. If possible, try to use up as much of a hazardous material before declaring it to be a waste.

What do I need to include when requesting a waste pickup?

The most important information to include on the spreadsheet or table sent to the EHS specialist is the following:

• An accurate description of the waste material. Some information on the chemical composition is necessary – the more detailed the better.
• The quantities of waste for each material, either by volume or mass.
• The location of the waste.
• A contact person in case questions arise about the waste
Universal Waste
Some wastes that are hazardous can be recycled, and are eligible for special consideration as Universal Waste. The most common types of universal waste are used fluorescent bulbs and batteries, but mercury-containing equipment is also included these materials should never be thrown in the normal garbage. Contact the EHS specialist if you need to dispose of mercury-containing equipment.

Fluorescent bulbs will be removed by the electricians. Ultraviolet lamps and specialized fluorescent lights should be kept separate from standard tubes and labeled accordingly.

Batteries can be brought to the recycling stations in the Cordell Reed Student Union and in the Cook Administration Building. If you generate large quantities of batteries, please contact the EHS specialist to obtain a container and arrange for regular pickups.

Students in the Residence Hall
Students in the residence hall can help protect our natural environment by practicing good waste management. Following these three rules will help make that toxic materials are disposed of promptly.

• Do not throw out used fluorescent bulbs or batteries in the trash. This includes CFLs. The front desk has containers for used bulbs and batteries. Any rechargeable lithium batteries (like those in cell phones) should be returned to their manufacturer if possible.
• Avoid breaking fluorescent bulbs. If you break a fluorescent bulb, open a window to ventilate the room and clean up the broken glass with a brush and dustpan. Place the remains of the bulb and broken glass in a sealed container and bring it to the front desk.
• Avoid using hazardous chemicals if possible. If you do use a hazardous cleaner or chemical, do not throw the bottle in the garbage unless it is empty (nothing dripping from the container turned upside down). If you can't use the entire hazardous chemical, contact the residence hall director to arrange a pickup.

CSU GO GREEN Recycling

Chicago State University now has a campus-wide recycling program as part of the CSU GO GREEN initiative. This recycling program collects paper, cardboard, bottles, and can using green dumpsters by each building. See this poster for details on what may be recycled. Green collection  containers for recyclable materials can be found in hallways and large open areas. Blue collection containers for bottles and cans are located outside near campus buildings for your convenience.

One of our partners in this recycling project has been the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. Part of the cost of this project is being financed by a recycling grant that was awarded by the Department's Illinois Recycling Grants Program to the University after a competitive application process. We wan to express our gratitude to the Department's Office of Energy & Recycling for their assistance in making CSU a greener campus.

How You Can Help:

  • Please use the recycling containers and green dumpsters only for recyclable materials.
  • If you use a paper shredder, use clear or blue bags. (No black bags, please.) Clear bags are available from the Building Service Workers in these buildings, as well as from multiple vendors.
  • Please break down cardboard boxes and leave them next to the recycling containers.
  • Building Service Workers guidelines on recycling are available as a PowerPoint presentation or a Adobe PDF.
  •  If you would like to take recycling in your work area further, a large number of green recycling bins for desk-side paper collection are available.   Building service workers will not collect from these desk-side bins – this is a voluntary program for office workers.  Simply empty the bin into a paper recycling container in the hallway. Contact Jeff Melton at jmelton@csu.edu to request these bins.

Other Recycling & Environmental Programs

Chicago State University has a large number of successful programs for recycling or waste reduction

  • CSU collects batteries for recycling on the first floor of the Student Union Building and the Library.  All types of batteries are accepted, except for vehicle, cell phone, or laptop batteries.
  • The CSU Library Circulation Desk collects clean plastic bags for reuse or recycling – see this this poster for more information.
  • CSU Building Service Workers use environmentally responsible cleaners and disinfectants
  • The mechanics for the university's fleet of vehicles recycle used lead-acid batteries and motor oil. 
  • The electricians recycle all the used fluorescent bulbs that they collect.
  • The Residence Hall recycles a large amount of waste generated by its residents using a single stream program similar to CSU GO GREEN Recycling. 
  • All University electronics waste, such as broken computers and monitors, are securely recycled by a state contractor after being processed through Property Control.
  • Yard waste like sticks and leaves is turned into mulch by a contractor
  • Scrap metal is hauled off for recycling via a contractor.