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Chemical Management in Schools


Common layout of a chemistry lab

The presence of potentially unstable laboratory chemicals in schools may result in an emergency situation. Outdated chemicals, toxic compounds, incompatible storage arrays, deteriorated containers, or inadequate ventilation can all pose severe health and safety risks. Colorado has seen several serious chemical incidents in schools that remind us of the importance of ongoing chemical management in school laboratories, vocational departments and maintenance facilities.

A school may unknowingly create a significant risk for injury through improper storage practices or by retaining old laboratory or industrial chemicals. Increased awareness and compliance with applicable regulations are essential to avoid the need for future emergency response and reduce the risk to human health and the environment. To address this concern, CDPHE is collaborating with El Paso County Public Health and Weld County Department of Public Health and Environment to launch a pilot self certification project for school laboratories in a limited number of Colorado high schools. Please see additional information below.


Pilot Self-Certification for High School Laboratories | Mercury in Schools | Contact Information | Additional Resources


Pilot Self-Certification for High School Laboratories

The department is partnering with El Paso County Public Health and Weld County Department of Public Health and the Environment to implement a pilot self certification program for high school laboratories. The goal of the pilot project is to partner with schools to help them better understand and comply with environmental health and hazardous waste regulations thus reducing environmental and health & safety risks. The pilot covers all high schools with science laboratories in the following 12 Colorado counties: Alamosa, Conejos, Costilla, El Paso, Garfield, Grand, Jackson, Mineral, Moffat, Rio Grande, Saguache, and Weld.


DO NOT use your internet browser "Back" button as you will be taken out of the checklist and your answers will not be saved.


If you would like a copy of your completed form for your records, you MUST provide an email address on the last page of the form. Once you hit the Submit button, you will automatically be re-directed to a related web page and will not be able to print your formYour certification is not complete until you have hit the “Submit” button on the form. 


The Guidance document is intended as general guidance for schools that operate a science laboratory and may generate hazardous waste through their chemistry programs and assist them in complying with Chapter 8 of the Rules and Regulations Governing Schools in the State of Colorado as well as Colorado Hazardous Waste Regulations. The guidance document was designed to accompany the self certification checklist and provides line-by-line assistance.


We recommend downloading a copy of the guidance document for reference as you complete the self-certification process.


Guidance document for self certification  

Self Certification Form - Electronic

If you are not able to use the online checklist, you may request a compact disk (CD), paper copy or email attachment be sent to you by calling Derek Boer at (303) 692-3329


Mercury in Schools

Mercury and mercury compounds are included on the state’s prohibited chemical list and are prohibited from use and storage at the school. In addition, the school is prohibited from purchasing or accepting donations of such chemicals.


There is an exception to the prohibited listing for mercury if it is contained in sealed devices, such as thermometers or barometers. However, the risk of a mercury spill poses a serious threat to health & safety and may result in significant cleanup costs. Therefore, the Department strongly encourages schools to replace these devices with mercury-free alternatives.


For more information, please visit the Mercury Free Colorado page.


Contact Us

If you have questions about the proper response to certain items on the self certification checklist, underlying regulatory requirements, or about a unique situation at your school, please refer to the Guidance Document for the Colorado Schools Self Certification Checklist or contact one of the CDPHE or local representatives below:


Colorado Schools Program Manager
Therese Pilonetti

(303) 692-3642

Hazardous Waste Generator Assistance Program (GAP)
Derek Boer

(303) 692-3329
Hazardous Waste Technical Assistance Line (303) 632-3320

Local Public Health Agency Contacts


El Paso County Department of Public Health and Environment
Jim Goodwin

(719) 578-3142

Weld County Department of Public Health and Environment
Max Marker

(970) 304-6415 ext 2279



Additional Resources





 Please contact us if you have any further questions