MSE Safety & Equipment Newsletter 

February 2023

Important Upcoming Dates

  • Next PUMA Lab Cleaning Day (with cookies): Friday, Feb 24, 3:30 pm
  • Next ARMS Sample Prep Labs Cleaning Day: Thursday, March 2, 3:00 pm

For Waste-to-Fuel, Keep Solids and Halogens Separate!

Approximately 75% of the hazardous waste generated at Purdue has a second life as liquid fuel used for important industrial and manufacturing operations, including fuel for the high-temperature kilns used to create cement for buildings, bridges, and roadways. When it is safe to do so, you can follow these three steps to ensure your liquid waste has a better chance of being repurposed as a fuel supplement:

  • Keep solids separate from your liquid waste when you can (e.g., wipes and cotton balls).
  • Collect & store waste that contains halogens (F, Cl, Br...) separately from non-halogenated waste and, when you can, minimize the amount of halogen-containing waste that you create because halogens are more costly and complicated to dispose of.
  • Properly label all components in your liquid waste containers so REM staff can quickly determine if your waste is fuel-compatible, or not.

As always, when you are ready to submit your waste to REM for pick-up, here is the link to the online survey. In the few cases where solid-liquid separation is unsafe or impractical (e.g., picric acid, perchloric acid), REM requires an explanation in the “comments” section of the waste pickup request stating why the liquids and solids cannot be separated.

Fume Hood Safety Reminders

Recently, a member of our school was injured when a fume hood sash was fully opened to address a leaking peristaltic pump. Fume hoods are ubiquitous in MSE lab spaces. And thanks to our recent Pet Photo competitions, we all know it is important to “shut the sash” when the hoods aren’t in use. But this advice extends to when you are actively using the hood as well. The vertical sashes and horizontal windows (see photo) should be positioned between you & your experiments in the hood at all times to best protect yourself from unsafe situations (e.g., explosions, leaks, etc.). 

Annual Indemnification Process Starting Soon for IMI, ARMS, MSEE, and KEPN

As part of our Integrated Safety Plan (ISP) lab certification with REM, each year we conduct a guided “self-audit” of the safety training procedures, hazards, and hygiene of all lab spaces that MSE personnel utilize at Purdue using this self-audit checklist. After our self-audit checklists are submitted, REM staff will inspect select lab spaces in each building. To prepare for these self-audits and inspections, please be proactive in identifying and abating (fixing) any lingering lab safety and hygiene issues in the lab space where you most frequently work. The indemnification timeline is as follows:

  • IMI: self-audit has begun; lab inspections will occur in March
  • ARMS & MSEE: self-audit will begin this month; lab inspections will occur in April
  • KEPN: self-audit will take place in May; lab inspections will occur in June
Please watch for future announcements and deadlines from Jenni about this important process.

ISP Grad/Post-Doc Survey Results

Every spring, MSE grad students and post-docs are surveyed in preparation for the ISP Indemnification. This survey not only helps MSE track where our researchers are but provides an opportunity for researchers to tell us how safe they feel in our labs and areas we can improve as a school. MSE researchers work in 15 different buildings as well as off-campus locations (see image). Of the 15 campus buildings, we have MSE PIs in 7 of them. Feedback from this survey revealed that the majority of our MSE researchers feel very safe in our labs but there are always opportunities for improvement. From the survey, MSE researchers believe our labs could benefit from the following:

  • Decreasing clutter and increasing routine cleaning accountability
  • Better organization and documentation in lab spaces, including audits of long-term sample storage
  • Greater awareness and discussion of ergonomic best practices 

Complete results from the survey can be found in the February Safety Committee Minutes (intranet link). Thank you to everyone who completed the survey – we greatly value your feedback! 

Hazardous Waste Labelling Change

A welcomed simplification to our current practices, Purdue REM will now allow orange hazardous waste stickers to contain both the user’s name (the person who generated the waste) and the PIs name. See the image below. The second waste label – the fluorescent “user” sticker – is no longer required.

New Portal for MSE-Related Software

ECN has launched a new portal for accessing MSE-related software directly on your computer - without the need to use VPN. You can access software at:  Relevant software for MSE includes: Ansys, Anaconda/Python, Autodesk, Catia, Granta-EduPack, Inventor, Mathematica, Matlab, Origin, RStudio, Solidworks, Thermo-Calc. Note that this software is generally available to both Windows and Mac users, but macOS Ventura support is currently limited. If you have technical questions about launching the software, please contact ECN at:

Reminder: ARMS 2130/2132/2136 First Thursday Clean-Ups

The MSE Safety Committee in consultation with REM facilitates monthly clean-up sessions for the Sample Prep / Polishing / Microscopy lab spaces in ARMS (ARMS 2136, 2132, and 2130).  All active lab users of these spaces are required to help with 2 clean-up sessions per year, which take place on the first Thursday of every month from 3-4 pm. The next cleaning session will be March 2nd. To sign-up for this session or any future session, please click here:

Equipment Reporting Reminder

If you encounter a piece of broken equipment, or have any questions about a specific piece of equipment, you should contact a member of the MSE Technical Staff: 

  • For sample prep (i.e., saws, grinding wheels) equipment: Tim VanMeter
  • For mechanical testing equipment and general use equipment checklist suggestions: Jenni Fifer
  • For SEM: Talukder Alam
  • For characterization equipment, scan the QR code.

Important Links and Contact Information

Thanks for reading everyone!


Prof. Erk, Jenni, and the MSE Safety Committee