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Health and Safety Guide



(Chemical inventory and labeling requirements)


The term "Community Right to Know" covers both state (New Jersey Worker and Community Right to Know Act) and federal (Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act) laws that were designed to respond to concerns about the potential effects of chemical releases on surrounding communities. The laws are intended to encourage and support emergency planning efforts at the State and local levels, and provide citizens and local governments with information concerning potential chemical hazards present in their communities. They require completion of an inventory of chemical substances, chemical container labeling, and submission of an annual survey to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP), local Fire and Police Departments, and the County Health Department.

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Scope and Application

The Community Right to Know laws apply to any Princeton University operations that store, produce, or use any of the chemical substances regulated by the Right to Know Laws. There are two broad categories of chemical that must be inventoried and reported on the annual Community Right To Know (RTK) Survey:

  • Substances defined by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection as "Environmental Hazardous Substances" if present in amounts exceeding "threshold quantities" specified for each listed substance
  • Any product or substance for which a material safety data sheet is required (by Occupational Health and Safety Administration Standards) if the material was present in excess of 10,000 pounds at any one time during the reporting period

The survey covers the calendar year and must be submitted to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection by March 1 of the following year.

The regulations provide an exemption from the reporting requirements for substances used in "Research and Development Laboratories". The New Jersey
regulations define a Research and Development Lab as: "a specially designated area used primarily for research, development, and testing activity …. in which
Environmental Hazardous Substances are used by or under the direct supervision of a technically qualified person." Princeton University has obtained a Research and Development Exemption from the NJDEP for both Main Campus and Forrestal Campus research labs. This exemption does not apply to teaching labs, stockrooms, machine shops, photography labs, etc.

The following materials are also exempt from reporting:

  • Substances which are an integral part of a facility structure or furnishings (e.g. asbestos)
  • Personal property for the personal use of employees at a facility
  • Ammunition when on the person of security personnel
  • Substances present as a solid in a manufactured item to the extent that exposure does not occur under normal conditions of use (e.g. lead bricks)
  • Environmental Hazardous Substances comprising less than one percent of a mixture, or 0.1 percent if the Environmental Hazardous Substance is carcinogenic as defined by OSHA

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Program Description

Annual Survey

Near the end of each calendar year, Environmental Health and Safety receives the Community Right to Know Survey from the NJDEP. EHS contacts each affected department to collect their inventory.

To complete the annual survey, each department must conduct a physical inventory of all chemical use that is not specifically exempted from the reporting requirements (See Scope and Application). During the inventory the location, number and type of containers (e.g., glass bottle, plastic bottle, cylinder, etc.) and container size must be recorded. Note: The RTK Survey does not cover the requirement for Fire Code Permits. See Section A8, Fire Code Permits, for information on this subject.

Using the material safety data sheet (MSDS) provided by the chemical supplier, the additional information required for completion of the RTK survey forms can be obtained. The completed survey is forwarded to EHS for review and submission.

Container Labeling

The NJ Worker and Community Right to Know Act requires that all containers "bear a label indicating the chemical name and Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) number of all Environmental Hazardous Substances in the container, and all other substances which are among the five most predominant substances in the container, or the trade secret registry number assigned to the substance. This is commonly referred to as ‘Universal Labeling’."

There are a number of exceptions and exemptions from the labeling requirement. (NOTE: these exceptions are for labeling only - the products may still have to be reported on the RTK survey). The regulations on labeling are several pages long. Included below are samples of some of the more broadly applicable exceptions. For a more detailed evaluation of the labeling requirements as they apply to specific circumstances, contact EHS.

  • Products which are personal property and are for the use of an employee.
  • All offices that are used for office work shall be exempt from labeling containers in the office. Rooms in an office that are used for storage of cleaning supplies, printing, storage of maintenance materials, and other non-office work activity shall not be included in this exemption.
  • Products which contain substances in the same form and concentration as a product packaged for distribution and use by the general public (consumer product exemption) if the container is two kilograms (4.4 pounds) or two liters (0.53 gallons) or smaller.
  • Containers that are intended only for the immediate use of an employee and whose contents will be used up within the employee’s work shift, provided the container was filled from a larger container that was labeled in accordance with the requirements of the regulations.

In lieu of Universal Labeling, employers with a Research and Development exemption may label containers in laboratories using a code or number system
that would allow an emergency responder to readily make a cross reference to the chemical name and CAS number of its contents. Containers labeled in
accordance with the requirements of the OSHA Laboratory Standard also are exempt from Universal Labeling. The choice of the labeling system used is at
the discretion of the department.

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Roles and Responsibilities


  • Maintain a file of current Material Safety Data Sheets for all chemical products used or stored within the department.
  • Conduct an annual department-wide chemical inventory or inventory update (excluding
  • Research Laboratories and other exempted categories described in Scope and Application) and complete RTK Survey Forms provided by EHS.
  • Maintain records of annual inventory and RTK Survey.
  • Ensure that chemical containers meet the labeling requirements described in the Labeling section of this document.


  • Distribute annual RTK Surveys and related information to departments.
  • Provide guidance in completion of surveys and resolve questions of applicability or other technical issues.
  • Review departmental RTK Surveys and prepare submissions to state and local agencies.
  • Audit departmental program periodically.

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For More Information

Contact Kelly States at 258-2648.

A copy of the latest NJDEP Community Right to Know Survey Booklet is available from EHS.

The following references are available from EHS:

  • Right-To-Know Planning Guide, Bureau of National Affairs
  • New Jersey Administrative Code (NJAC 7:1G) Worker and Community Right to Know Regulations, New Jersey Department of Environmental
  • New Jersey Administrative Code (NJAC 8:59) Worker and Community Right to Know Act Rules, New Jersey Department of Health

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