Chemical Management Considerations for School Districts

School District Policies and Procedures


  • School Districts should consider creating a purchasing policy for chemicals and products containing chemicals.
  • Schools should consider creating an approved chemicals and products list, based on less toxic or non-toxic alternatives to make implementation and enforcement easier.
  • School personnel should consider purchasing only those chemicals or products containing chemicals that meet the District’s purchasing policies and are on the “approved chemicals and products list”, if one has been created. The approved products list includes those chemicals and products that have passed the school district’s screen for unacceptable environmental, health and safety hazards.
  • Schools should consider purchasing chemicals and products only in quantities that will be used during the current school year. This reduces the potential to hoard chemicals, and reduces the costs and management needs associated with excess chemicals.

Inventory Management

  • Schools should consider periodically conducting an inventory of all chemicals stored on-site, at least annually unless state regulations require a different schedule.
  • The inventory should cover all areas of the school including supplies for school maintenance (cleaning, pesticides, repairing), science classrooms and labs, art classrooms, shop classrooms, etc.
  • Schools should consider reviewing the chemical hygiene plan and hazard communication plan for consistency.
  • Only chemicals identified on the District’s approved products and chemicals list may be stored on school grounds. Schools should maintain a copy of the Material Safety Data Sheets for all chemicals kept in each area of the school, and a copy in the main office, in case of a chemical incident.
  • Any and all unapproved products and chemicals should be removed and disposed of, or recycled according to applicable federal, state and local laws.
  • Schools should consider updating their chemical inventory list at least annually to reflect removal of chemicals from school grounds.
  • Schools should consider updating their chemical inventory list at least annually to reflect removal of chemicals from school grounds,
  • Review the chemical inventory list.
  • Ensure all chemicals have anticipated removal dates.
  • For chemicals past their anticipated removal dates, make sure there is a corresponding actual removal date.
  • Schools should consider conducting a chemical clean-out, identifying and removing unnecessary hazardous materials through appropriate recycling and/or disposal methods.

Storage & Labeling

  • All chemicals and products containing chemicals must be stored properly and clearly labeled.
  • All chemicals and products should be in their own original undamaged containers.
  • All chemicals and products should be stored in a designated storage room or individual cabinets equipped with operable locks outside of classrooms.
  • Chemicals and products should be stored according to chemically compatible families; flammable and corrosive materials stored in appropriate cabinets; on appropriate shelving units, in good condition and with lips; no higher than eye level and upright. Storage rooms should have their own working ventilation systems and smoke alarms. Schools should periodically inspect chemical storage areas (See OSHA requirements), and ensure integrity of all storage structures.
  • Do not store chemicals with or near food products.
  • Do not store heavy bottles or containers on high shelves.
  • Storage areas should be kept clean, orderly, and easily navigable.

Training & Handling

  • School maintenance staff, teachers and students must be properly trained to handle chemicals and lab equipment. (Review the chemical hygiene plan and hazard communication plan for training requirements.)
  • Only trained employees (maintenance staff and teachers) are permitted to transport chemicals within the building, and only after school hours or when students are within classrooms.
  • Food and drink must be prohibited in areas where chemicals are handled or stored. (See OSHA requirements.)

Hazard Communication Plan

Schools should have a written hazard communication plan that includes the following information (See OSHA requirements):

1) identity of the person responsible for implementing the plan,

2) procedures for acquiring, maintaining, and providing access to material safety data sheets (MSDSs),

3) an updated chemical inventory list,

4) provisions for employee training, and

5) labeling requirements