Life Sciences EH&S Community Blog

Recycled Plastic Pallets: Your Questions Answered

Posted by Greg Klyachman

How well do your pallets hold up under the elements? Tired of pallets Plastic Palletbreaking and leaving a mess in the warehouse? Replacing pallets is costly and time consuming. Triumvirate Environmental's subsidiary, BestPLUS Plastic Lumber, manufactures recycled plastic pallets that are a sustainable, durable, and cost-effective alternative to the standard wooden pallet. Made from recycled plastic materials, every 10 BestPLUS pallets made saves one tree from deforestation and diverts 1/4 ton of plastics from landfill. 

Promoting a circular economy, the pallets are ideal for use in all operations in the Life Science, Pharmaceutical, and Manufacturing industries. No splintering or breaking, which means no contamination, wood dust particles, or health and safety hazards. They are resistant to chemicals, acids, corrosives, and are impervious to liquids.

Here are some common questions we get regarding the plastic lumber product:

Q:  Will BestPLUS lumber rot or promote mildew growth?

A:  No. Recycled plastic lumber does not contain organic material, such as wood filler, to promote rot, mold, or mildew growth. The material will not absorb moisture or allow anything to adhere to it.

Q:  How do you clean BestPLUS plastic lumber?

A:  The material is impervious, so dirt and debris don’t adhere to it very well. If necessary, we recommend initially wiping with a soaping sponge or towel to remove debris or dirt before using more aggressive methods, such as pressure washing. Stains from oil-based products or permanent markers may require a mild solvent and rag to remove.

Q:  Is plastic as strong as wood?

A:  Plastic and wood are two very different substances, reacting in different ways. Plastic may bend slightly under weight that would break wood. The pallets have been thoroughly tested and can hold up to X lbs. BestPLUS plastic pallets also have a 10-30x longer lifespan than wood. Fewer broken pallets minimizes warehouse safety hazards.

Q: How much do the plastic lumber pallets weigh?

A: BestPLUS recycled plastic pallets weigh approximately 50 lbs., making them comparable in weight to most other pallets in the market.

Q: Are the pallets customizable?

A: Yes, for large quantity orders BestPLUS recycled pallets can be custom built to fit your needs. The standard pallet is 48” x 40” and has 8 deck boards, 4 stringers, and 4 bottom boards. We also offer stenciling on the side of the pallets.

Q: How do these pallets promote a circular economy?

A: Our recycled plastic pallets include single-use plastics, filters, bioprocessing bags, and other plastic materials that are generated by Triumvirate’s clients. We treat the waste and use it to build the plastic lumber boards that make up the pallet. By recycling our clients’ plastic materials and reselling it to them in the form of pallets, we have effectively closed the loop and contributed to the circular economy.

By participating in our plastic recycling program – transforming your waste into your plastic pallets – your company can improve its environmental health, perpetuate sustainability, and strengthen its internal environmental initiatives.

Didn’t see your question here? Reach out to me to learn more. You may also click here for more on the features and benefits of BestPLUS recycled plastic pallets.

Greg K_new brighter

Greg Klyachman
National Account Representative
Triumvirate Environmental
(978) 882–1859


Wood vs. Plastic: Which Pallets Are Right for You?

Posted by Greg Klyachman

Wood pallets can be found in almost every warehouse, but are they the best option to store and transport your sensitive material? Wood pallets decay, produce dust, and have a short lifespan - not to mention broken pallets present a safety hazard.

Triumvirate Environmental and its subsidiary BestPLUS Plastic Lumber have found a solution in recycled plastic pallets. We created a comparison chart below to illustrate the benefits of using our recycled plastic pallets. Check it out!
Wood vs Plastic Matrix

Are you ready to make the change? Contact me to learn more about our sustainable plastic pallets.

Greg K_new brighter
Greg Klyachman
National Account Representative
Triumvirate Environmental
(978) 882-1859


Chemical Inventory Management: 4 Keys to Success

Posted by Sasha Laferte

Chemicals_02_copy.jpegManaging a chemical inventory program may seem like an easy task. The chemicals get delivered, entered into the system, bar-coded, and distributed to their proper location. Easy, right? Not so fast! Managing a chemical inventory program is a difficult assignment where small mistakes can pile up leading to a messy and inaccurate database. How can problems be avoided? Here are four important factors to consider in order to make sure your chemical inventory program runs smoothly and effectively.

1. Team Communication- Communication is perhaps the most important part of maintaining an accurate and reliable chemical inventory system. The management team that interacts with the system each day must make sure they are on the same page when it comes to chemical names, vendors, product numbers, and locations. Inconsistent data entry leads to big problems!

2. Limit Access- It is important that only those who are responsible for inventory management have access to the inventory program. Most inventory software is not too user friendly, and can often be confusing to new or first time users. To avoid unauthorized users attempting to enter their own data or trying to fix a problem they see (which usually leads to more problems), access to the program must be restricted to the management team.

3. Training- Although researchers who are unfamiliar with inventory software should not have direct access to the system, they nevertheless play an important role in the overall inventory program. In order for an inventory system to function properly, bottles which are depleted must be removed from the database. The researchers must not only be trained on what to do with a depleted bottle, but they must also know the reasons why they are doing it. Explain why the inventory system is in place and how it benefits them. Once they are aware of this, they are sure to fulfill their end of the responsibilities.

4. Reconciliation- Let’s face it: we all make mistakes. When managing an inventory of thousands upon thousands of chemicals, errors are bound to be made. By following rules 1, 2, and 3 those mistakes can be minimized, but since we’re only human, inconsistencies in the data will inevitably arise. That’s why it’s vital to perform a chemical inventory reconciliation on an annual basis. This will help to make sure any mistakes or inconsistencies do not pile up, and your database is as accurate as possible.

Want to learn more about chemical inventory management? Attend our upcoming webinar. Register in the link below.

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Hazards & Symptoms of RCRA 8 Metals: Chromium

Posted by Mark Campanale

Andy Joyby Andy Joy, Life Sciences Account Manager

Almost half-way through our series of RCRA 8 Metals! 

Next on the list is Chromium.  Chromium, Cr, is a stainless-steel gray hard metal that has a high polish and melting point.  It doesn’t have any odor, or taste, and malleable.  Louis Nicolas Vauquelin discovered Chromium in the mineral called crocoite – or most commonly known as lead chromate – in 1797.

One of the most hazardous forms of chromium is “hexavalent chromium” – (Cr(VI)).  Hexavalent chromium compounds are man-made and widely used in many different industries.  They include, but no limited too: pigments in paints, inks, plastics; anti-corrosive agents to primers and surface coatings; fumes from welding stainless steel; impurities in portland cement. 

Breathing in high levels of Cr(VI) can cause irritation to the cromiumnose and throat.  Symptoms include runny nose, sneezing, coughing, itching, and a burning sensation – almost like a bad cold.  However, prolonged exposure can cause sores to develop in the nose and result in nosebleeds.  If the damage is severe enough, the nasal septum will develop a hole in it.

One can also develop an allergic skin reaction, called allergic contact dermatitis – red, itchy rash that becomes crusty and thickened with prolonged exposure.

Why female role models are important: Mass High Tech Women to Watch Breakfast 2011

Posted by Mark Campanale

Alexa Kaubrisby Alexa Kaubris, Life Sciences Account Manager

Women in the science and technology world are often thought of as being overshadowed by the thousands of men that contribute to tech and innovation. The Mass High Tech’s Women to Watch Breakfast 2011, however, told a different story. A story of 22 women who, while still outnumbered, found ways to make their mark on the industry. These representatives proved a point that while statistically men still hold the upper hand, women are making significant strides and increasingly large contributions to the field.

I had personally never been to an event like this, and almost bailed at the last minute due to a meeting that ran over and morning traffic (not to mention the ordeal of parking in the huge garage adjacent to the Seaport World Trade Center). I had originally signed up for this breakfast to try my hand at some networking, but arrived so late I didn’t have any time for chit chat. While the basic introductions were droning on, I found one of the last seats in the ballroom cursing my inability to drive anywhere without getting lost for at least 20 minutes. I figured I had wasted my time in showing up, but at least I could eat a little food before heading out to client meetings. Little did I know that in less than an hour I would almost be in tears.

Each woman had approximately 2 minutes to speak. Some chose to speak about their mentors, others ran the long list of important ‘Thank Yous’, and many gave advice for a younger generation. The majority of the women, being mothers first and business women second, gave powerful advice that really resonated with me. I left this breakfast feeling like I could conquer the world thanks to this amazing group of women. They had energy, power, respect and it was awesome. I can see myself attending this event for years to come- and next time I won’t be late.  

Hazards/Symptoms of RCRA 8 Metals: Arsenic

Posted by Mark Campanale

Andy Joy, Life Sciences Epertby Andy Joy, Life Sciences Account Manager

Most of us are all aware of the RCRA 8’s (Arsenic, Barium, Cadmium, Chromium, Lead, Mercury, Selenium, and Silver).  For those who aren’t or are new to the industry, these metals are ones not to take likely.  I mean, they have their own “designated name.”

I’ll begin with Arsenic.  You might not believe this, but ArsenicArsenic is one of the RCRA 8 is found in food, water, and many household items; but in very limited quantities.  It’s also found in tobacco smoke, laundry detergent, seafood, and beer.  Even though the benefits are not known, it is believed that arsenic is essential in trace amounts; especially for your digestive system.  Toxicity occurs if doses are larger than 250 mcg/day (most diets have about 140 mcg/day).

Symptoms of arsenic poisoning starts with headaches, confusion, and drowsiness; as the poisoning furthers, convulsions and changes in fingernail pigmentation occurs.  Once acute, then diarrhea, vomiting, blood in the urine, cramping muscles, and hair loss ensues.  If the arsenic exposure is more chronic, this ultimately leads to many types of cancer: skin cancer, liver cancer, and lung cancer, as well as hair loss and fingernail pigmentation.

Symptoms of Arsenic poisoning

One interesting fact I found is that if you feel you have been exposed to arsenic, your must include lots of sulfur in your diet (not elemental sulfur, of course).  Some foods that contain a high content of sulfur are: eggs, onions, beans, legumes, and garlic.  Or you can go the more direct route and buy sulfur tablets (but please consult your doctor first).

Does anyone else know of any other ways to combat arsenic once the recommended amount is exceeded?

Hazards/Symptoms of Lead Poisoning

Posted by Mark Campanale

Co-written by Matt Bauer, Marketing Intern and Andy Joy, Life Sciences Account Manager.

With the recent outbreak of lead poisoning in Nigeria which has caused over 100 fatalities in local children as well as the discovery of lead traces found in children’s fruit juices and baby foods in the U.S., you may be asking questions about the dangers of lead and what precautions the country is taking to reduce your risk.  It is clear that lead exposure is incredibly hazardous to your health, but how?  What are the symptoms of lead poisoning?   If it is evident that lead is a health threat and stringent regulations are in place, why can lead traces still be found in day-to-day life?

Lead (Pb) is bright and metallic in color when freshly cut, but its’ surface rapidly tarnishes in the air causing a dull luster.  Lead is very dense, soft, malleable, and resistant to corrosion, but it has poor electrical conductivity.  Its’ unique chemical characteristics lend itself well to many uses including corrosive liquid containment, radiometric dating, batteries, plastics, electronic insulation, as well as numerous uses in the construction industry.  Lead has been used for thousands of years, because of its’ widespread distribution, ease of extraction, and various applications.  Up until the 1950’s, Lead was commonly found in gasoline, paints, and even in pesticides, but has been banned since. 

The use of Lead has been reduced due to its’ hazardous nature, but exposure is still common. It enters the body through ingestion or inhalation, and like many other hazardous elements, bio-accumulates. Because Lead accumulates in the body, there is no minimum safe exposure limit. Lead exposure can interfere with development and damage connections in the nervous system, as well as cause brain and blood disorders.  Children and infants are especially susceptible.  Symptoms include abdominal pain, headache, anemia, irritability, and in severe instances seizure, coma, and death can occur. 

Lead exposure has health implications because Lead interferes and replaces useful metals, such as zinc, calcium, and iron in bodily biochemical reactions. This interference causes genes to turn on and off irregularly, and as a result there are changes in production and shape of proteins.  These altered proteins cannot perform their basic functions, and consequently health problems occur. 

            Even though lead exposure is incredibly dangerous, lead is still prevalent and commonly used. Lead is useful and necessary in many applications, and is not easily replaced. Until alternatives are discovered, it is necessary to take precautions and limit use and exposure of this hazardous metal.     

OSHA’s 2010 Agenda- Safety in the Workplace

Posted by Rebecca McDaniel

By Andy Joy, Life Sciences Account Manager

At a recent ASSE Meeting (American Society of Safety Engineers) an OSHA representative spoke about OSHA's 2010 agenda . With the Obama administration upping OSHA's budget since The President's first day in office, OSHA has more initiative to help employees/employers identify controlled hazards in their workplace to prevent injuries, illnesses, and even fatalities. They include (Taken from

Airborne Infectious Diseases
Airborne infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), and influenza can be spread from person-to-person. OSHA is interested in protecting the nation's 13 million healthcare workers from airborne infectious diseases. Healthcare-acquired infections are on the rise and there are also increasing levels of drug-resistant microorganisms in healthcare settings. Most current infection control efforts are intended primarily for patient protection and not for worker protection. In March 2010, OSHA intends to publish a Request for Information to help examine how to improve worker protection from exposure to airborne diseases.

Occupational Injury and Illness Recording and Reporting Requirements (Musculoskeletal Disorders)
OSHA is proposing to revise its regulation on Recording and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (Recordkeeping) to restore a column on the OSHA 300 Injury and Illness Log that employers will check when recording work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). The MSD data from the column will help about 750,000 employers and 40 million workers track injuries at individual workplaces, and improve the Nation's occupational injury and illness information data published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The MSD column was removed from the OSHA 300 Log in 2003. The Agency will issue a proposed rule in January 2010.

Cranes and Derricks
More than 80 workers lose their lives each year in crane-related fatalities. OSHA's existing rule, which dates back to 1971, is partly based on industry consensus standards that are over 40 years old. On October 9, 2008, OSHA issued a comprehensive proposed revision of the Cranes and Derricks standard. The proposed rule addresses electrocution hazards, crushing and struck-by hazards, overturning, procedures for ensuring that the weight of the load is within the crane's rated capacity, and ensures that crane operators have the required knowledge and skills by requiring independent verification of operator ability. This year, OSHA completed the public hearing and comment phase of the process and is now analyzing the public's input and preparing the final rule. OSHA plans to issue the final rule in July 2010.

Crystalline Silica
Inhalation of respirable silica dust can cause lung disease, silicosis and lung cancer. Exposure to airborne silica dust occurs in operations involving cutting, sawing, drilling and crushing of concrete, brick, block and other stone products, and in operations using sand products (e.g., in glass manufacturing and sand blasting). One study estimated that there may be as many as 7,000 new cases of chronic silicosis each year. This rulemaking will update existing permissible exposure limits and establish additional provisions to protect workers from exposures to respirable crystalline silica dust. OSHA plans to publish a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in July 2010.

Combustible Dust
Combustible dust can cause catastrophic explosions like the 2008 disaster at the Imperial Sugar refinery that killed 14 workers and seriously injured dozens more. Deadly combustible dust fires and explosions can be caused by a wide array of materials and processes in a large number of industries. Materials that may form combustible dust include wood, coal, plastics, spice, starch, flour, feed, grain, fertilizer, tobacco, paper, soap, rubber, drugs, dyes, certain textiles, and metals. While a number of OSHA standards address aspects of this hazard, the Agency does not have a comprehensive standard that addresses combustible dust. OSHA is engaged in the early stages of rulemaking to develop a combustible dust standard for general industry. OSHA published an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in October 2009 and is preparing to hold stakeholder meetings in December 2009.

Hazard Communication Standard - Global Harmonization System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals
OSHA and other U.S. agencies have been involved in a long-term project to negotiate a globally harmonized approach to informing workers about chemical hazards. The result is the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). OSHA is revising its Hazard Communication Standard to make it consistent with the GHS. The new standard will include more specific requirements for hazard classification, as well as standardized label components which will provide consistent information and definitions for hazardous chemicals and a standard approach to conveying information on material safety data sheets. On September 30, OSHA published the proposal and is preparing for hearings in March 2010.

Beryllium is a lightweight metal that has a wide variety of applications, including aerospace, telecommunications and defense applications. Chronic beryllium disease occurs when people inhale beryllium dust or fumes and can take anywhere from a few months to 30 years to develop. The disease is caused by an immune system reaction to beryllium metal, and causes symptoms such as persistent coughing, difficulty breathing upon physical exertion, fatigue, chest and joint pain, weight loss, and fevers. OSHA is developing a rule that would update the Permissible Exposure Limit and establish additional provisions to protect exposed workers. Currently, the Agency is preparing to conduct a peer review of the health effects and risk assessments and plans on initiating the peer review in March 2010.

Employee exposure to diacetyl causes obstructive airway disease, including the disabling and sometimes fatal lung disease called bronchiolitis obliterans or "popcorn lung." This rulemaking will establish a Permissible Exposure Limit as well as additional provisions to protect workers from exposure to diacetyl. OSHA held a stakeholder meeting on diacetyl in 2007 and completed the small business review panel report in July 2009. OSHA is currently working on the proposed regulatory text and developing the health, risk and feasibility analysis. The Agency plans to initiate a peer review of the health effects and risk assessments in October 2010.

Walking / Working Surfaces - Subparts D & I
This proposed standard will update OSHA's rules covering slip, trip and fall hazards and establish requirements for personal fall protection systems. The rule affects almost every non-construction worker in the United States. This is an important rulemaking because it addresses hazards that result in numerous deaths and thousands of injuries every year. The proposal is expected to prevent 20 workplace fatalities per year and over 3,500 injuries serious enough to result in days away from work. The Agency plans to issue a proposal in March 2010.

What concerns you most about your workplace?

Healthcare Reform Bill with Senator Harkin

Posted by Rebecca McDaniel

By Denise Hutchins, Executive Director of Life Sciences

Triumvirate Environmental was fortunate enough to host an intimate discussion with a handful of life sciences industry leaders and Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) during his most recent Massachusetts visit. Senator Harkin took over for the late Senator Kennedy as Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee in 2009, and also serves as Chairman of the Appropriations Sub-committee on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education. Senator Harkin is uniquely situated as both the primary author of health sciences policy, and the point person for allocating funds in that area.

We talked with the Senator about the healthcare reform bill and its creation. We also discussed important issues surrounding:

  1. the cost of pharmaceutical development and its resale cost to the consumer;
  2. changing the last Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) interpretation of the eligibility requirements and expanding the eligibility requirements to allow companies to participate that would otherwise be excluded due to the individual ownership requirement.
  3. increasing the appropriation of $1 billion for tax years 2009 and 2010 in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010. Available tax credits/grants are set aside for small- and mid-sized biotech, pharmaceutical and medical device companies that meet the criteria and apply.

Life Science Startup Companies – Hazardous Waste Management

Posted by Rebecca McDaniel

By Kate Carpenter, Technical Services Representative

Do you generate hazardous waste from lab work? Perhaps you generate a small volume of hazardous waste, and you don’t think that it’s enough to worry about. You may want to know that regardless of your company size, you need to manage hazardous waste in a safe manner. You are required to dispose of it properly in accordance with state and federal regulations, but there are less stringent standards if you qualify as a Very Small Quantity Generator (VSQG).

If you are new to the game of hazardous waste, the first thing you should do is to determine what type of waste streams you have. Materials that are determined to be ignitable, reactive, corrosive or toxic will need to be considered. Then you should judge how much you generate of each waste. In Massachusetts for example, if you generate less than 220 pounds (27 gallons) of hazardous waste a month and no acutely hazardous waste then you can register as a VSQG, if it is more you will have to look into becoming a Small Quantity (between 220-2,200 lb and/or less than 2.2 lb of p-listed waste) or a Large Quantity Generator (over 2,200 lb and more than2.2 lb of acutely hazardous waste). As a VSQG, you can accumulate up to 1, 000 kilograms (or 2,200 lb/ 270 gallons) onsite for an infinite amount of time, but can never store more than that onsite. You should be mindful to never exceed these limits or you will have to register as a SQG or a LQG and you should always check your state regulations for specifications. Minimizing the amount of hazardous waste generated by using non-hazardous substitutes and/or recycling and reusing alternatives whenever possible can help you stay under these limits.

If you meet the criteria for a VSQG, you are given more flexibility than the larger generators, but you still have specific requirements you must follow. You may still need to register with your state environmental agency (look on their website for registration forms) and you are still responsible for correctly managing your waste. A few of the requirements are listed below.

  • Store hazardous waste on an impervious surface
  • Secure the storage area against unauthorized access
  • Post Hazardous Waste signs near the storage area.
  • Label each container as hazardous waste with the name of the waste fully spelled out and its associated hazard(s) such as “ignitable” “corrosive” “toxic” or “reactive”
  • Retain records of all hazardous waste manifests for shipment as well as any records of the type/quantity of waste generated and the date/method of treatment, recycling or disposal.
If you’re unsure about any step in the process, check your state’s environmental webpage or contact an environmental advisor to review your current procedures and jumpstart your environmental health and safety program.

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