SECTION C1: COMMUNITY RIGHT TO KNOW
(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.
Return to Top
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
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 ….
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
- Substances present as a solid in a manufactured item to
the extent that exposure does not occur under normal conditions
of use (e.g.
- Environmental Hazardous Substances comprising less
than one percent of a mixture, or 0.1 percent if the Environmental
is carcinogenic as defined by OSHA
Return to Top
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
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.
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
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,
- Products which are personal property and are for the use of
- 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
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.
Return to Top
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.
departmental program periodically.
Return to Top
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
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
Return to Top
Return to Health and Safety Guide Table of