The University Record, November 26, 1997

OSEH seeks researchers, labs for pollution prevention project

By Elizabeth H. Hall
Business Operations

The Department of Occupational Safety and Environmental Health (OSEH) is looking for laboratories and researchers to participate in pollution prevention and waste minimization efforts.

According to OSEH Director Henry D. Baier, the wide array of initiatives being performed within the University's Pollution Prevention (P2000) program can be applied in research, teaching, and facility operations throughout campus. Pollution prevention initiatives are environmentally friendly, and often cost-effective as well.

Campus operations that generate chemical, biological or radiological waste are the most likely candidates for implementation of a new pollution prevention initiative, Baier says. In addition, researchers who know of a more effective, environmentally friendly method to achieve their established goals are encouraged to participate. Success stories from pollution prevention project initiatives may be highlighted in technology transfer materials being disseminated to other teaching institutions throughout the country.

"The University's P2000 program is on the cutting edge of environmental protection," Baier says. "Because of the U-M's strong commitment to environmental safety and integrity, positive changes are being made in our community."

One example of a successful pollution prevention initiative is being done by researcher John Del Valle, associate professor of internal medicine. His laboratory specializes in gastrointestinal peptide and disease research. "We discovered we could substitute chemicals with less toxic properties without compromising research results," he says.

Baier says the U-M Health System has implemented a broader waste minimization mercury reduction program. The project focuses on the replacement of mercury-containing equipment with electronic units and the development of strict quality control methods to ensure future project sustainability. Mercury-containing blood pressure cuffs, thermometers and pathological reagents are some of the products being replaced with non-hazardous alternatives without sacrificing clinical accuracy.

For more information on P2000 or to become involved in the program, call Occupational Safety and Environmental Health, 647-3120. P2000 is being performed in settlement of an enforcement action brought by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.