Environmental Management Programs


Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous mineral used historically for insulation, fireproofing and increasing the strength of materials. It is also a hazardous air pollutant that has been directly linked to serious illnesses such as lung cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma.

Intact, an asbestos-containing material (ACM) is safe. Once damaged, the ACM can release the hazardous asbestos fibers into the air where they can be inhaled and cause the illnesses described above.

The most commonly encountered forms of ACMs are:

  • Floor tile
  • Floor tile mastic
  • Carpet and baseboard mastics
  • Ceiling tiles
  • Acoustical plaster
  • Drywall mud
  • Certain wallpapers
  • Insulation for pipes
  • Fittings and tanks
  • Firedoors
  • Elevator brake pads
  • Transite panels
  • Benchtops
  • Fume hood linings

Any of these materials, if manufactured and installed before 1990, may contain asbestos and should be considered suspect. If you note damage to any of these, contact ehs@niu.edu.


Hazardous Waste Disposal Guidelines

The disposal of hazardous chemicals is strictly regulated under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA), and the EPA's federal regulations found in 40 CFR, Parts 100 - 399.

Chemicals must be disposed of through the Environmental Health and Safety Department (EHS). This will normally be done at no cost to the generator if the disposal procedures are strictly followed. Individuals who do not comply with state and federal regulations are individually responsible for possible fines and/or imprisonment. Call EHS at 815-753-0404 or 815-753-2383 when you have waste materials for disposal.

Please consult NIU's Chemical Waste Management Guide for a complete list of procedures regarding chemical and hazardous waste disposal.

No hazardous chemical or substance shall be disposed of into the sanitary or stormwater system, into the atmosphere, or into the university trash system.

All chemical waste must be collected in suitable containers for processing and disposal by or under the supervision of the Environmental Protection Specialist. In the event of uncertainty, contact EHS for advice.

Any waste material that may present a hazard to one's health or surrounding environment should be treated as a potentially hazardous waste. This includes spent or unused chemicals, cleaning solutions, oils, etc. Never dispose of any questionable material without first consulting with EHS.

Pest Control

Northern Illinois University practices integrated pest control management (IPM). This is pest management strategy that focuses on methods that are least injurious to the environment. Pesticides are applied in such a way that they pose the least possible hazard, and are used as a last resort when other controls are inadequate.

Bed Bugs

While bed bugs were generally eradicated as pests in the United States in the 1940s, with the removal of highly toxic pesticides they have made a resurgence.

Pest and Animal Control Procedure

On-Campus Information

NIU works closely with residents in the halls as well as Northern View Apartments to prevent/eradicate infestations. If you believe you have a problem with bedbugs please call the Housing Work Request Office at 815-753-4948.

Protocol for Response to Bed Bugs

Underground Storage Tanks

Northern Illinois University shall operate and maintain all underground storage tanks (USTs) in accordance with the requirements of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) regulations contained in 40 CFR Part 280 and the Office of the State Fire Marshall (OSFM) regulations 41 IAC 172 and 174-177 to prevent the release of a regulated substance.

The Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) Department has developed the Underground Storage Tank Operation and Maintenance Plan to prevent oil discharges during the handling, use, or transfer of petroleum products at NIU. This document incorporates the following three components:

  1. An outline for all inspections, testing and maintenance that shall be performed at the facility, specific to university operations;
  2. Directions on how to control and remediate routine releases or spills of regulated product;
  3. Emergency response procedures as defined by the regulations.

All USTs at the university are of double-walled fiberglass construction with spill buckets and overfill alarms. Each UST is monitored by a Veeder-Root tank monitoring system which features automatic tank gauging, in-tank leak detection and electronic line leak detection. The USTs are inspected by a Class A/B operator on a monthly basis. Functionality tests of all tanks, fuel lines, sensors and emergency shut-offs are conducted on an annual basis.

Any release of a regulated substance from a UST may require notification to regulatory agencies in accordance with NIU's Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure Plan (SPCC).

Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) Plan

The Environmental Protection Agency's Oil Pollution Prevention Regulation was published under the authority of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (Clean Water Act). The regulation is identified as Title 40, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 112 (40 CFR 112). It requires that facilities subject to the regulation prepare and implement a plan to prevent any discharge of oil or oil products into navigable waters or adjoining shorelines of the United States. The plan is referred to as a Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) Plan.

Northern Illinois University is subject to the SPCC regulations because the university stores more than 1,320 gallons of petroleum products on campus, including gasoline, diesel fuel, motor oils, hydraulic oil, oil-based coolants and cooking oil. There is also a reasonable potential at certain campus locations for oil to spill to Watson Creek or to the Kishwaukee River, either directly or through campus storm sewers.

The Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) Department has developed the Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure Plan to establish procedures and guidelines to prevent oil discharges. The SPCC Plan describes measures implemented by NIU to ensure the safe handling and storage of oil, to prevent oil discharges from occurring and to prepare the university to respond in a safe, effective and timely manner to mitigate the impacts of any oil discharge that may occur.

In the event of fuel (gasoline or diesel) or oil spill, contact the NIU Police at 815-753-1212 and the EHS Department at ehs@niu.edu.

Transportation and Shipping of Hazardous Materials
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) 49 CFR Parts 171- 180 apply to all transportation of hazardous materials by aircraft, railcar, vessel and highway in the United States. International and U.S. domestic air shipments are also regulated by the International Air Transportation Association's (IATA) Dangerous Goods Regulations (DGR) and are enforced by the Federal Aviation Association (FAA).

Northern Illinois University is committed to protecting the faculty, staff, students and visitors, as well as the general public and the environment, from the harmful effects of exposure to hazardous materials and dangerous goods. The university is also committed to compliance with all applicable regulatory requirements imposed by the DOT and IATA. The Environmental Health and Safety Department (EHS) has developed the Hazardous Materials Transportation and Shipping Procedures to provide NIU personnel involved in activities related to hazardous materials transportation with comprehensive guidance for regulatory compliance.

This program applies to all NIU faculty, staff and students who ship, receive or transport packages containing materials regulated for transport. Non-compliance with the federal HMR can result in civil or even criminal penalties for the university and the individual(s) responsible for the violation. The transportation or shipment of hazardous materials must be arranged and managed by properly trained personnel, using the appropriate shipping containers, labels and other necessary equipment.

If you need assistance identifying whether or not your item is hazardous, how to prepare for shipping or how to obtain the required training, contact us at ehs@niu.edu. All academic or research-related inquiries should be directed to the Office of Research Compliance, Integrity and Safety (ORCIS) at 815-753-8588.

For more information contact us at ehs@niu.edu.

Contact Us

Environmental Health and Safety
Dorland Building 200

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