Few laboratory researchers would question the need for hazardous materials in certain experimental procedures. The radioactive isotope P32, for instance, is vital in DNA research, and hazardous solvents such as xylene and methylene chloride are virtual staples of organic chemistry and biochemistry. But the cost of disposing of such materials now routinely exceeds their purchase price, adding significantly to expenses in already-tight research budgets. And this cost is rising, driven largely by a host of federal, state, and local regulations designed to protect lab workers and the environment.

"Research dollars are in short supply, and scientists have to fight hard for their grants," says Rebecca Jehorek, program director for Chemical Safety, a firm that produces waste management software in Richmond, Calif. "And in the last two years, they've had to spend a great deal of money that they didn't spend before on waste disposal."

Scientists and lab directors say that...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to digital editions of The Scientist, as well as TS Digest, feature stories, more than 35 years of archives, and much more!
Already a member?