Equipment Clearance and Release

Dealing with old equipment is one of the biggest challenges when shutting down or upgrading a laboratory. EHS works with laboratories around campus to ensure that all used lab equipment is free of hazardous materials. This process begins by completing a Lab and Equipment Clearance Request form. Once the “all clear” has been given by EHS, Resource Recovery can accept equipment for storage and reuse by other departments. 

Chart illustrating the process for clearing lab equipment.

Click on image above to view larger. Graphic can also be viewed and downloaded as a PDF from the Resources section, to the right.  

After the request form is submitted, EHS must verify that equipment has been cleared of all chemical or biological residue prior to releasing to Resource Recovery. This is done through labeling; all equipment must be labeled with a signed EHS clearance label before it can be accepted as surplus. 

With the exception of computer monitors and hard drives, which fall under a separate protocol for electronics, equipment used in the laboratory must be properly cleaned by lab personnel and verified by EHS. It is the responsibility of departmental surplus coordinators to ensure this takes place. Resource Recovery will not accept lab equipment without labels. 

What Can be Surplused?

Just about any lab equipment can be taken by Resource Recovery: centrifuges, cooling units, microwaves, cryogenic storage tanks (dewars), biosafety cabinets. An important exception is glass and metal containers, which are not surplused. Used chemical containers are treated as waste and subject to our Empty Chemical Container Management Protocol.

To request EHS clearance of a piece of equipment planned for surplus, use the Lab and Equipment Clearance Request form located on Service Now. 

If you have questions about whether a piece of lab equipment can be surplused, contact EHS at ehs@princeton.edu or 609-258-5294.  

Cleanup Procedures

Clean-up procedures for equipment differ based on the nature of the item and the type of contamination.

Chemical Residue

Lab equipment with chemical residue must be wiped down to remove any potential contamination. Any equipment that has liquid in it (including motor oil) must be emptied. 

Dewars, cylinders and other pressurized containers destined for recycling must be cut in half to clearly demonstrate the item(s) is not under pressure. EHS can assist labs with cutting and proper disposal of all pressurized containers. 

Biohazardous Residue

Any lab equipment that has come in contact with potentially infectious microorganisms or viruses must be cleaned and disinfected prior to being offered to Resource Recovery. 

Clean the equipment using detergent and hot water and then disinfect it using a fresh solution of one part bleach to 10 parts water. If the equipment cannot be disinfected, attach a biohazard label and notify Environmental Health and Safety.

Biosafety cabinets that have been used for research with human-sourced materials and/or any potentially infectious organisms or viruses must be decontaminated by the University’s biosafety cabinet maintenance and service contractor. Your department safety manager or EHS can assist you with setting up the decontamination service. Attach a copy of the decontamination certification to the cabinet.

Radioactive Residue

Equipment used with radioactive materials must be surveyed for contamination. If labs can demonstrate the item is free of contamination (e.g., wipe test and liquid scintillation counter results), items will be approved by EHS. Otherwise, EHS will conduct the survey and wipe test. 

For questions about equipment used or suspected to have been used with radioactive materials, contact Sr. Program Manager for Radiation Safety Colt Greer at 609-258-1919.

Capital Equipment and Princeton Prime

Large equipment of significant value (more than $5000) is tracked by Finance & Treasury through the Princeton Prime Marketplace. Capital equipment must be removed as an asset in Prime. EHS is automatically notified through this system to give approval for its removal. However, a Lab and Equipment Clearance Request form needs to be completed so the equipment is properly evaluated for any hazards. 

It is important the form is completed by the user/owner or other knowledgeable person with regard to its use. Once everything has been completed (any cleaning or contamination surveys), EHS will look the equipment over and then label it as “Cleared” for removal. At this point it can be approved for removal in Prime.

All Other Workflows

For all other items, it is the responsibility of departmental surplus coordinators to notify EHS of any equipment intended for surplus, and to request clearance. EHS asks that labs contact our office upon completion of cleaning and before notifying Resource Recovery. For larger projects (lab closings, renovations, major upgrades), please notify EHS at the beginning of the project so we may consult on what can be surplused and all proper procedures for cleaning and verification.