Life-cycle analysis of hazardous chemicals in the Department of Materials Science & Engineering
Author(s)Chia, Valerie Jing-chi
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Materials Science and Engineering.
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MIT policies set forth by the Department of Environment, Health, and Safety (EHS) require that all laboratories maintain a chemical inventory to properly document the use of hazardous chemicals. While EHS has provided a chemical inventory management tool called ChemTracker to help labs to do so, it is estimated that less than 20% of laboratories utilize the software. As a result, an EHS committee has been formed to re-evaluate ChemTracker and explore other options for inventory management. RFPs have been sent to potential vendors to determine if alternatives can better satisfy the goals of EHS and attain the benefits of effective chemical management. To analyze the problem of low usage rates of ChemTracker, interviews were conducted with research groups within the Department of Materials Science & Engineering (DMSE). These revealed that the largest variables were the number of chemicals used by the lab and the user-friendliness of the software. The initial time investment to switch from current, simpler methods to ChemTracker discouraged many smaller labs from pursuing that option. Current users of ChemTracker also expressed frustration with auto-fill features that weren't comprehensive and thus hindered the process of entering and updating inventory. Future work should expand into other departments to observe usage behavior and concerns and compare to those within DMSE. Any chemical inventory management software should be user-tested prior to full Institute implementation to ensure adoption by a larger proportion of groups around campus. While compulsory software would also ensure adoption, a one-size-fits-all approach is not appropriate for chemical tracking due to the hassle it could create and the potential impact on productivity of research itself. Thus, further analysis of user concerns and better marketing of the tools to address those concerns are required for a successful solution to the problem.
Thesis (S.B.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Materials Science and Engineering, 2013.Cataloged from PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (p. 29).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Materials Science and Engineering.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Materials Science and Engineering.