Research Proposal
Table of Contents
Definition of Terms
Background of HMHF/ESF
Systems Diagram
Actor Systems
Assessment of Need
Areas to be Investigated
Procedures for Data Collection
Procedures for Data Analysis
Research Tools
Annotated Bibliography


    In the fall of 1999, the WATgreen Advisory Committee will present the University of Waterloo’s State of the
Environment Report to the Executive Council.  The report focuses on university environmental issues and will require information from faculty, departmental, and operational sectors of the University.  This particular report will provide
information on the current state of the handling of hazardous materials on campus.  Because this issue has the potential to cause serious damage to the environment and human health, it will likely be one of the main issues discussed at the fall meeting.  Our client is Patti Cook, Waste Management Coordinator, who will report our findings to the WATgreen Advisory Committee in preparation for the Executive Council presentation.

    The areas to be examined in this project are the Environmental Safety Facility (ESF), formerly the Hazardous
Materials Handling Facility (HMHF), Chemistry Stores, and the Safety Office.  A previous 285 group, to determine if
chemical disposal was handled both sustainably and in compliance with government regulations, performed an audit of the HMHF. The objectives of this project are to assure that safety measures are continuing under the proper protocol described in that audit, and that the goal of sustainability is satisfactorily addressed.  In addition, if through research it is obvious that improvements are necessary, any suggestions will be implemented into the final report.

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Definition of Terms

biohazardous - hazardous as described above, but of or relating to biology or to life and living processes;
                      used in or produced by applied biology

chemicals - a substance obtained by a chemical process or used for producing a chemical effect

chemistry - a science that deals with the composition, structure, and properties of substances and with the
                transformations that they undergo

ESF - the Environmental Safety Facility at UW, responsible for

hazardous - involving or exposing one to risk, i.e. health or safety risk potential

HMHF - a former name for the ESF; has primarily the same function

PCB - any of several compounds that are produced by replacing hydrogen atoms in biphenyl with chlorine,have
        various industrial applications, and are poisonous environmental pollutants which tend to accumulate inanimal

poison - a substance that through its chemical action usually kills, injures, or impairs an organism

radioactivity - the property possessed by some elements (as uranium) or isotopes (as carbon 14) of
                        spontaneously emitting energetic particles (as electrons or alpha particles) by the disintegration of
                        their atomic nuclei

sustainable - meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own
                    needs  (Brundtland Commission, 1988)

sustainability - of, relating to, or being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource or other esources
                        are not depleted or permanently damaged

toxic - of, relating to, or caused by a poison or toxin; a list can be found in the both the Ontario and Canadian  Environmental
            Protection Acts

toxin - a poisonous substance that is a specific product of the metabolic activities of a living organism and isusually
            very unstable, notably toxic when introduced into the tissues, and typically capable of inducing antibody

waste - an unwanted by-product of a manufacturing process, chemical laboratory, or nuclear reactor (toxic waste,
            hazardous waste, nuclear waste)

 Go back to Table of Contents     Did we miss any?  Look them up........Look up words at the Merrian-Webster site

Background of HMHF/ESF

    This system encompasses a myriad of departments around campus.  Three main departments of the University of Waterloo - ESF, Chemistry Stores and the Safety Office, oversee the handling of hazardous waste.  The handling of
these wastes can affect the surrounding area pertaining to health and safety issues as well as environmental effects.
A previous 285 project made the following observations and recommendations:     The purpose of this system is to oversee and ensure that there is proper handling of hazardous chemical, radioactive and biological materials on the University of Waterloo campus. The ESF and the Chemistry Stores provide access to these facilities.  Pick-up and drop-off of substances for disposal or re-use are offered to avoid improper disposal of these substances.  Scott Patterson posts pick-up times at various loading docks around campus to allow for easy participation in this program.

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Systems Diagram Go to Systems Diagram

Actor Systems

    Note that the Core Actors may have the power to research and investigate, but they may not have the power of
some Supporting Actors, like Executive Council members, who hold power to implement change at the University of
Waterloo.  The relationships between actor groups, especially in terms of core actors providing relevant information to the decision-makers is critical to making informed decisions

    A shift in administrative duties of this system when it is working properly could upset the balance of power between the Safety Office and the Chemistry Department.  Currently, all groups cooperate to provide the most efficient pick-up and disposal of the hazardous materials on campus.   However, there are still many points where the system could fail.

For example, a breakdown in this system could occur if the hazardous materials were not properly labeled or tested,
possibly resulting in contamination of the environment and reducing the system's overall sustainability.

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Assessment of Need

    Although we currently do not have all the necessary information, a second audit to assess the success of these
changes is likely required since an audit was performed a number of years ago with many recommendations. We may find that the system has integrated these recommendations and works properly with only minor problems or there may be need to restructure the program to ensure that the system is sustainable.  A sustainable system operates with regard for present and future impacts, upon the biophysical, social and economic realms of UW.
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Areas to be Investigated/Information needed from each area

The following are the areas to be researched:
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Procedures for Data Collection


- Reviewing current federal, provincial, municipal and UW policies, regulations, codes and laws regarding waste
disposal, storage and transportation
- Determining applicable laws and if UW complies with those laws by including those used in the previous audit, and
any new laws and observing the ESF procedures as they are occurring (on-site observation and checklist of laws)
-Tour of ESF with staff member Scott Patterson
-figures from the Purchasing Department to determine how much money was spent on chemicals last year and approximately how many units were purchased (we will compare this with waste and recycled figures)


Ian Fraser: Director of Safety/Environmental Health Co-ordinator
Scott Nicoll, Supervisor of Chem Stores
We interviewed Ian Fraser and Scott Nicoll on March 1, 1999 from 2:30-3:45
Areas of focus for interview

Ian Fraser
What is the nature of the chemicals that are disposed of at the university?
How do you ensure compliance with the regulations?
How do you keep up to date with regulations?
How often are the outflows tested and by whom?
What are the results of those tests?
Have the costs of disposal increased?
Has the ESF efficiency in terms of waste volume improved?
Could we have the statistics on how much waste goes out per year and how much it costs per unit?
How are the chemicals treated?
What protocols are used for waste treatment and how are these protocols designed?
What is UW's current status with respect to PCBs.?
What is the difference between the HMHF and the ESF?
How were they disposed of prior to ESF?  How has ESF has improved the disposal of hazardous materials on the university campus?
What improvements have been made to the organization and physical structure of the ESF?
How are students and lab demonstrators trained in hazardous waste handling?
Is there any accounting mechanism in place to track which departments are producing the most waste?
Does this university serve as a model for other campus waste handling facilities?
What are the advantages of having the hazardous waste facilities on campus in the Chemistry department itself?
Which faculties and facilities produce which hazardous waste and in what quantities?
How is the disposal of radioactive materials handled? (put in bins, sent away, reused)
What are the waste categories (medical, bio-hazardous, toxic, radioactive, chemical etc.) and how much hazardous material of each category is produced?
What are the statistics on the return rate of chemicals to the disposal facility? (in order to attempt to determine the amount of chemicals that may be poured down the drain)

Scott Nicoll
Is there a lot of waste in the chem. stores?
If so, how is it dealt with?
How do the chemicals get prepared for re-use?
How are the Chem Stores inventoried?
What encouragement is there for faculty and staff to purchase the recycled chemicals?
How many units of recycled chemicals did you sell in the last fiscal year?
What changes did you incorporate from the 1996 HMHF report for ERS 285?
Which suggestions were unrealistic and why?
Are there any changes in operations since the last report was published?

Scott Patterson: Manager of Envi'tal Safety Facility
Could we have a tour?
How does a hazardous material travel through this system?
Is there a risk for improper disposal in this system?
How has this reduced waste on campus?

Kevin Stewart: Director of Safety (by e-mail)
to tie things up, to understand the entire system and all its components if we are unclear



- Observe the life cycle of chemicals as they enter UW, are used at UW and are disposed of from campus by visiting
a lab and going through with a staff member the procedure for ordering chemicals, use in lab procedures, disposal, and
handling by the ESF.


- review two past projects to determine if there have been any changes in the way chemicals are stored, transported and
disposed of and to see if these changes will result in a more sustainable system

Survey Go to Surveys

- two surveys are needed to gather the necessary information directly, from undergraduate and graduate students.  This will be a good indicator of sustainability of hazardous substance handling on campus because if people are disregarding the proper procedures then there is a breakdown in the system.
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Procedures for Data Analysis

The following are analytical questions we must ask of our data once it is collected:

1. Do current disposal methods correspond to applicable laws and regulations?

2. Are the disposal, storage and transportation methods of waste sustainable? (regarding chemical life cycle)

3. Are students and professors trained in labs how to dispose safely of chemicals and the resources at UW?

Criteria for Evaluation:

Criteria for Improvement:

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Research Tools

At this point, we are planning on conducting interviews, surveying and auditing past reports our research tools.

Audit:  this will be a background information tool designed to gain more understanding of the present situation and to find areas where we may improve hazardous materials handling at UW.  The two main reports are the Campus
Ecology Audit (1992) and the Reuss HMHF 285 Project (1997).  We will also use these to begin a list of regulations
and legal obligations with which UW must comply.  Using this list we can check off whether or not the procedures we observe at the various facilities are in fact in compliance with the law.

Survey:  please see the attached copy of the survey.  We will use these questions orally to tabulate the answers from at least 100 UW students.  This is faster and more efficient than sending out paper copies of a short survey like ours.  We will also be surveying Chemistry Grad students by using an e-mailing list provided by the department.

Interviews:  To gain information on our topic we will be conducting interviews with coordinators with different
branches of Health and Safety on campus as previously listed.  Through these interviews, we hope to gain a complete understanding of the workings of the ESF, how it has mitigated hazardous materials on campus, and impacts on other campuses through training programs.

At this point, our most important interview will be with Ian Fraser, Safety/Environmental Health Co-ordinator at UW.

Another important interview that we will conduct will be with Mr. Scott Paterson who is the manager of the ESF. He
is the person responsible for actually collecting and disposing of the hazardous materials from him we can learn about the actual workings of the facility as well as any improvements in disposal of hazardous materials since the adoption of the facility.

We will also be interviewing Kevin Stewart who is the Director of Safety for the University of Waterloo.  He may
know about any successes at other universities who use a program similar to or based on ESF.  We will also ask him
for any information that we feel we have missed in previous interviews, as he is the director of this department.

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January Dates:
18 – Group Meeting with Patti Cook: get some introductory information and direction about what needed to be
examined in Hazardous Materials on campus.  She provided us with information and key contacts.
27 – Group Meeting about proposal: who will take responsibility for which parts and due dates for material.
29 – Proposal documents due: each member will hand in their portion of the material to Kate for integration and
website preparation
31 – Draft Completion: group members may read and revise the draft before handing it in on Monday.

February Dates:
1 -  Draft Proposal due:  if it is approved it will be posted to the website by Kate
3 – Group Meeting:  discuss interviews, possibility of surveying science students, divide tasks
7-13 – Schedule Interviews with UW staff.
10 -  13- Group Meeting:  discuss interviews, progress so far, decide whether to survey
13 – if necessary, write surveys according to format and guidelines from lecture
14 – 20 – Reading Week
21 – finish interviews if any remain
25 – Group Meeting:  divide work for progress report
28 – Work due to Kate for integration and draft of Progress Report
28 – Group Members read and revise Progress Report before handing in

March Dates
1 – Progress Report Due
3 – Group Meeting:  discuss research, recommendations, direction of final report; begin writing first draft
3-10 - surveying, researching Concordia University and Windsor University
10 – Group Meeting:  edit first draft
12 – revisions due to Kate
15 – Draft Report Due
17 – Group Meeting:  continue revisions
24 - Group Meeting: - discuss revisions; prepare presentation materials and choose presenters
27 -  Final Revisions/Additions; finalize the presentation
29 - Presentation
April 1 – Final Report Due

Allocation of Work:
Interviewing:  set up by Colleen, administered by Kate and Colleen
Auditing:  performed by Christy and Erin
Surveying:  written and prepared by Lisa, administered by all group members, data analyzed by Christy
Report Writing:  all group members, coordinated by Kate, proofread and edited by all members
Presentation:  presented by Erin with technical assistance from Kate, material prepared by all members
Web Posting and Preparation:  Kate

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Annotated Bibliography

Patti Cook, Waste Management Coordinator, University of Waterloo, Personal Interview, DC 3608, Jan 18, 1999
Patti gave us the websites for the varioius WATgreen projects related to our assignment.  She also mentioned
various contacts at UW who handle, use, or develop programs and procedures for hazardous materials.  She
also believes that this topic will be of particular interest to the Executive Council because it has such disastrous
potential if not carefully handled.
Estrin, David and John Swaigen, Environment on Trial:  A Guide to Ontario Environmental Law and Policy, 3rd Edition, Edmond-Montgomery, Canada, 1993
This book contains a comprehensive overview of the Canadian and Ontario legal systems.  It has excellent descriptions of cases and legislation up until 1993.  Provides many excellent sections including Waste Management, Pollution and Resource Management Problems.  This will be useful when checking compliance.
Hazardous Waste – Health and Safety Program Manual,, Sheila Hurley, Aug. 14, 1998
This site gives the location, times and dates for pickup of hazardous materials.  There is also a list of each type
of waste and which container it must be stored in and how it must be labeled before pickup.
Handling Chemicals Sheila
Hurley, Sep 30, 1998
A list of ten rules when handling chemicals (like reading the Materials Safety Data Sheet MSDS before using a
chemical, use the fume hood, never use unlabelled chemicals, pour chemicals into containers specified by lab
instructors).  There is a link to the Computability Chart where users can find out if two chemicals will react
violently when stored in proximity.  This is a useful list to start to generate questions for the student survey.
E.g. do you ever use unlabelled chemicals?  Do your instructors tell you where to dispose of used chemicals?
Chemstore, Allan Fleming, Oct. 7, 1998
Contains links to pages with information on people at the Chemstore, Chemicals, Health & Safety, Services,
Inventory and Facility Information.    This is where you can find out information about specific chemicals and
their properties, where to get chemicals at UW (the redistributable inventory or new stock), phone numbers for
health and safety questions and problems,  spill procedures, MSDS searches for chemical information.  This will
be a useful guide to what typically goes on in the lab and what protocol students and staff follow when handling
chemicals and what information they rely on for spills and questions about chemicals.
Environmental Safety Facility,,
Scott Patterson
Home Page of the ESF.  Has links to its mission statement (recovery and reuse of chemicals and wastes),
Collection Schedules, packaging instructions, and hours of operation.  This will be valuable to those group
members who plan to audit the compliance of UW’s hazardous materials handling.
Hazardous Materials Handling Facility,, G. Reuss et al, Aug. 29, 1997
The final report on the HMHF as it was in 1997, including many of the aspects we plan to study.  We will use it
to gauge the ESF’s success in further improving upon the HMHF’s procedures.
Hawthorne, Craig, et al.1992.
This site is the final report from a previous Waterloo student project on hazardous materials at UW.  It contains
useful information about sources of chemical waste, important contacts on campus, student surveys and education
initiatives.  We can use this to see where the ESF has gone using these and other recommendations and if it has
been successful.
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