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Frequently Asked Questions

Why should we become involved in the Nebraska SC3 Program?

The benefits of responsible chemical management include:

  • Making the school safer for students and staff
  • Reducing the use of dangerous chemicals in schools
  • Preventing dangerous and costly spills and releases, resulting in lost school days
  • Reducing liability and loss of public confidence
  • Saving money on purchasing and disposing of chemicals

Why should you evaluate your chemical management practices?

Conducting an evaluation of your school's chemical management situation, practices, and policies is important for two reasons. First, it allows you to identify and address any potential risks regarding chemicals at your school (e.g., unlabeled, leaking chemical containers). Second, an evaluation will highlight priority areas with chemicals that your SC3 program can address.

What chemicals need special attention?

  • All highly hazardous chemicals with a hazard rank of 4
  • Potentially explosive chemicals
  • Any radioactive materials
  • Those stored in a container that is in poor condition (e.g., corroded, has crystals growing around the cap)
  • Those stored in inappropriate containers, such as buckets or reused food containers
  • Expired chemicals
  • Unidentified or not clearly labeled with the chemical name, date, and storage and handling requirements
  • Those stored near incompatible chemicals (alphabetical storage is also inappropriate)
  • Those stored on deteriorating, unstable, or inappropriate shelving (e.g., flammables stored on wooden shelves, corrosives stored on metal shelves)
  • Unknown chemicals
  • Unsecured chemicals
  • Unneeded or in surplus quantities

Why should I conduct a chemical inventory?

Conducting a chemical inventory not only provides your school with a better understanding of all the chemicals in your school , but also serves as a tool for future chemical management. A well-organized inventory provides information on chemical type, quantity, purchase date, and location. Having detailed and recorded knowledge of the chemicals present at your school is important to making responsible purchasing decisions, considering safe storage arrangements, evaluating use, and accurately estimating removal and disposal costs. Chemical inventories should be conducted on annual basis and should include chemicals from all areas of the school using chemicals (chemistry, biology, art, industrial art, grounds and maintenance, custodial, etc.)

What is a included in the chemical inventory?

  • Chemical or product name
  • Place(s) where materials is being stored (room, name, building)
  • Program(s) using the materials and whether it is currently being used
  • Date of purchase (if unknown, write "prior to" and the inventory date)
  • Amount of material currently in school (by location)

What things need to be noted when completing an inventory?

  1. Allow ample time to conduct the inventory.
  2. Know where all chemicals used in the school are located and that you have access to those locations. Some of the places you may find chemicals are science classes and laboratories, art classes/studios, maintenance sheds, cleaning closets, and office supply areas.
  3. Have a plan to deal with potential explosives if they are found and verify that everyone listed in the plan is familiar with their role. We suggest that you contact the Nebraska State Patrol's Bomb Squad if needed.
  4. Work in pairs, never alone. It is best if one team does the entire inventory.
  5. Areas in which you are working should have adequate lighting and ventilation.
  6. Wear appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). This should include gloves, chemical splash goggles, a lab apron, and closed-toed shoes.
  7. Have quick access to a phone and a recently tested eyewash and safety shower.
  8. Have a written response plan nearby in case of a spill or accident and verify that all participants have read it in advance.
  9. If a bottle needs to be turned around to read a label, turn it without touching the cap in case it is a potentially explosive chemical.

One person should act as the recorder and the other person should read the names of the chemicals. The reader should confirm that the names of the chemicals have been recorded accurately. While completing an inventory, you may identify outdated, unknown, or unnecessary chemicals in need of disposal. 

Who needs a copy of the inventory?

Before a Chemical Cleanout- We suggest you use the Chemical Inventory Template in Excel format and upload your inventory to this website. It will allow you to see which chemicals are highly hazardous, potentially explosive and not recommended for high school or middle school use. It will provide a great deal of information about each chemical in your inventory. Otherwise, you may send a hard copy of your inventory to Keep Nebraska Beautiful via email at info@knb.org or hard copy to: Keep Nebraska Beautiful, 3201 Pioneers Blvd., Ste 118, Lincoln, NE 68502. The SC3 Coordinator will assist by reviewing the inventory to make recommendations on which chemicals are not recommended for high school or middle school use.

Annually - Upload them onto this website: www.NebraskaSC3.org

Why should I conduct a chemical cleanout?

If your chemical inventory identified chemicals in your school that present a health and/or safety concerns, you should consider conducting a chemical cleanout. A chemical cleanout addresses immediate threats, as well as unneeded and outdated chemicals to prevent accidents before they happen. Conducting a chemical cleanout that includes proper disposal is an important step to creating a safer schools that protects the health and safety of students and staff.

How do I inventory unknowns?

Give a description of the:

  • Bottle (size, color, narrow or wide mouth, glass or plastic),
  • Contents (liquid, clear or cloudy, solid, solid with liquid),
  • Bottle cap color and integrity (metal or plastic),
  • Location of the bottle (acid cabinet, shelf, box in dark corner),
  • Are there crystals or precipitate on the bottle
  • Pictures are very helpful. Be aware of brown bottles with narrow mouths and using flash.  Brown bottles are designed to minimize exposure to light.

Which chemical cabinets are most important?

  1. Flammable will help protect entire school and should be the first cabinet concern.
  2. Acid cabinets are the next highest priority to segrate acidic chemicals.
  3. Corrosive cabinets are important to insure integrity of shelving for potentially corrosive chemicals.
  4. Bases can be placed on the bottom of shelf and out of the way.

What are the goals of SC3 program?

  1. Get outdated and unsafe chemicals out of all K-12 schools in Nebraska
  2. Work with every school in the state to develop and implement a School Chemical Management and Safety Program in each school.
  3. Conduct professional development for in-service teachers.
  4. Develop chemical management and safety instruction for pre-service K-12 science education through all teacher colleges in Nebraska.

What can I do to sustain our SC3 program?

An important part of maintaining a safe learning environment is to continue to follow responsible chemical management policies and procedures, and periodically evaluate program progress and make adjustments as necessary. The activities to sustain your SC3 program are:

  1. Evaluate and measure your program's progress, methods, and capabilities by using the NE SC3 Evaluation Tool found on this website
  2. Maintain annual inventories and upload on the Nebraska SC3 website
  3. Keep chemical management policies and procedures up-to-date
  4. Develop a Chemical Hygiene Plan for your school (A template can be found under the Resources Section on this website.)
  5. Conduct periodic training for staff (Some instructional videos can be found under the Training Section on this website and other training resources were sent on a DVD to every school)
  6. Participate in the Nebraska SC3 Recognition Program that will qualify your schools as a "Chemically-Safe School"
  7. Maintain partner relationships

What is a "green curriculum"?

A "green curriculum" involves the use of more environmentally friendly, less hazardous chemicals in the smallest possible quantities. The purpose of a green curriculum is to reduce waste, minimize treatment after use, and conserve energy and resources. A green curriculum can be used in almost any discipline that involves chemicals such as: chemistry, biology, physics, art, photography, and vocational courses such as woodworking and auto/machine shop. The following links provide some helpful background information on how these concepts promote a greener curriculum: