Department of Environmental Conservation

D E C banner

School Chemical Management

There are often old, outdated, and unused chemicals in a typical high school chemical storeroom. Large stores of unused chemicals can overwhelm storage areas and create unsafe learning environments. To learn about how to find and use less-toxic chemicals and potentially reduce chemical inventories, please visit our page on Green Chemistry.

Need help cleaning out your school's bulk chemicals? Waste disposal questions can be directed to your BOCES safety/chemical hygiene lead. Questions about waste disposal regulations can be directed to RCRA staff at regional NYSDEC offices. Unwanted bulk chemicals such as pesticides, paints, stains, cleaners, hydraulic fluid, boiler treatments, fluorescent light tubes, mercury devices, etc. may be managed with the help of the CleanSweepNY program. Contact 518-225-8146 or For smaller amounts of waste chemicals private waste contractors can be used.

Performing a Chemical Inventory

The first step to creating a sustainable chemical management system is to perform a complete chemical inventory every year.

  • With a complete chemical inventory, school personnel will know where items are stored and how much of a given chemical is on hand. This will lead to smarter purchasing practices and compliance with the school's chemical hygiene plans.
  • Schools that have multiple storage locations will need to assess all locations.
  • The Chemical Inventory Worksheet Template (PDF, 26 KB) was developed to aid schools in performing an inventory.

Organizing and Storing School Chemicals

  • Organize the chemicals listed in the inventory.
  • Never organize chemicals alphabetically!
  • There are generally two ways to organize a chemical storeroom: the Flinn method and the color-coding method.
  • Both systems are safe, and each has advantages and disadvantages. Generally, the color-coding method will require less space than the Flinn method.
  • Refer to Chemical Storage and Handling Recommendations (PDF, 25 KB) which helps inform schools of proper storage conditions.

Additional Resources for School Chemical Management