United States
                   Environmental Protection
National Risk Management
Research Laboratory
Cincinnati OH 45268
                   Research and Development
EPA/600/SR-96/110  September 1996
4>EPA       Project Summary
                   Pollution  Prevention  Assessment
                   U.S. Postal  Inspection  Service
                   National  Forensic  Laboratory
                   Carole O. Bell, Mary Hoel, John Nuckels, and John Conrick
                    As part of its Waste Reduction Evalu-
                   ation at Federal Sites Program, the U.S.
                   Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
                   National  Risk Management Research
                   Laboratory worked cooperatively  with
                   the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to  inte-
                   grate  waste prevention and recycling
                   activities into the waste  management
                   programs at various postal facilities
                   through the conduct of pollution  pre-
                   vention  opportunity assessments
                    This PPOA documented and quanti-
                   fied waste generation  at the National
                   Forensic Laboratory, a Postal Inspec-
                   tion Service crime laboratory that ex-
                   amines physical evidence and performs
                   chemical analyses relevant to crimes
                   involving USPS operations.
                    The report makes recommendations
                   concerning procurement of office  sup-
                   plies,  maintenance supplies and  haz-
                   ardous materials; management of
                   hazardous materials and  wastes;  pur-
                   chase of chemicals on EPA's 33/50 list;
                   improvement of source separation and
                   recycling of paper and paper products,
                   metals,  and plastics; management of
                   unwanted equipment; and other options
                   for reducing or eliminating pollution.
                    This Project Summary was developed
                   by  EPA's National Risk  Management
                   Research Laboratory,  Cincinnati,  OH,
                   to announce key findings of the research
                   project that is fully documented  in a
                   separate report of the same title  (see
                   Project Report ordering information at
  Since 1988, EPA's National Risk Man-
agement Research  Laboratory (NRMRL)
has managed a technical support effort
known as the Waste Reduction  Evalua-
tions at Federal Sites (WREAFS) Program.
WREAFS was established to provide pol-
lution prevention solutions to environmen-
tal issues through research, development
and demonstration of pollution prevention
techniques and technologies, and trans-
ferring lessons learned within the federal
community and related private sector in-
  The U.S. Postal Service (USPS), in co-
operation with NRMRL's WREAFS pro-
gram, is engaged in an effort to integrate
pollution prevention  and  recycling activi-
ties into the waste management programs
at postal facilities.  The  purpose of this
project was to perform pollution  preven-
tion opportunity assessments (PPOAs) at
Postal Service facilities, recommend imple-
mentation strategies, and develop facility
guidance that could be incorporated into a
revision of the USPS Waste Reduction
Guide. The project was  funded by  the
U.S. Postal Service through an interagency
agreement with EPA NRMRL.
  This report describes the findings of the
PPOA conducted for the  U.S. Postal In-
spection Service, Forensic and Technical
Services Division's National Forensic Labo-
ratory in Dulles, VA. The  PPOA was con-
ducted during the week of November 14,

Facility Description
  The National Forensic Laboratory is situ-
ated in a rural industrial park several miles
from Dulles International  Airport. Three
other Postal Service facilities are  located
at this site: a Stamp Distribution Network,
a Vehicle Maintenance  Facility, and a mail
Processing and  Distribution Center. The
Forensic Laboratory  is a two-story build-
ing  of approximately 44,000 square feet,
divided  into six  functional areas or sec-
tions. The  Chemistry  Section examines
controlled substances submitted by postal
inspectors;  Forensic Photography provides
photographic support to all the sections;
Technical  Services supports  a  national
communications network; the Physical Evi-
dence  Section  examines explosive  de-
vices, firearms, and toolmarks; the Latent
Fingerprint Section processes evidence to
develop latent fingerprints; and the Ques-
tioned Document Section identifies hand-
writing   and  establishes  document

Waste Description
  The nature and volume of the workload
at the  Forensic  Laboratory depends  on
Postal  Inspection Service criminal cases.
Quantities of waste disposed or released
to air and  water may  vary considerably
from month to month  and  year to year;
however, on the  average, the Forensics
Laboratory generates  approximately  31
tons of solid waste per year. Annual cost
of solid waste  management is approxi-
mately $6,000. Exhibit  1 presents  the pri-
mary  components  of the  Forensic
Laboratory's solid waste stream. In addi-
tion to  solid waste,  the Forensic Labora-
tory generates small quantities of hazard-
ous wastes. Most hazardous materials are
utilized in very small quantities. The Fo-
rensic  Laboratory  has had occasion to
dispose of hazardous waste only once in
the past three years.

Pollution Prevention
  The  PPOA identified  several pollution
prevention opportunities at the site. Some
of these  opportunities simply reduce the
quantity or toxicity of the waste stream,
while others offer the USPS economic as
well as environmental benefits. Exhibit 2
presents the pollution prevention opportu-
nities that offer the USPS significant cost
reductions in  addition to reducing pollu-
tion. The annual savings for the combined
facilities could be as high as  $25,000. In
addition, by marketing dependable quanti-
ties of quality materials, the postal facili-
ties increase the possibility of receiving
revenues from the sale of their recyclables.
All of the pollution prevention opportuni-
ties identified by the PPOA team are ad-
dressed below.

General Recommendations
      Reduce the  amount of packaging,
      including corrugated  containers,
      shrink/stretch wrap, and strapping,
      entering the facility. Reuse incom-
      ing containers and utilize reusable
      packaging whenever possible.
      Introduce and promote a variety of
      techniques to reduce the  quantity
      of paper generated for  disposal.
      Repair unwanted equipment and/or
      donate to schools  and other facili-
      ties for reuse.
Exhibit 1.   Forensic Laboratory Solid Waste Stream

Waste                                Waste components
Paper       Mixed office paper, computer printout, corrugated cardboard, paperboard packaging,
            paper towels

Food        Food scraps, food-contaminated paper products

Metal        Food and beverage containers, aerosol cans, paint cans, electronic equipment, wire

Glass        Containers from laboratory and photoprocessing chemicals, food and beverage con-
            tainers, broken laboratory glass

Plastic       Containers from photoprocessing chemicals, food and beverage containers, gloves,
            shrink/stretch wrap, bubble wrap, packaging peanuts

Wood       Pallets, cable spools

Other        Toner cartridges, circuit boards, communication equipment, computer equipment,
            carbon filters

Batteries     Various sizes and types
      Provide training for professional and
      custodial staffs on source separa-
      Establish  a multi-facility recycling
      program for the four Postal Service
      operations located in Dulles, VA.

Affirmative Procurement
      Establish preference programs and
      adopt EPA guideline recommenda-
      tions for the purchase of products
      made with  recovered materials.
      Substitute products that do not con-
      tain ozone depleting chemicals; ex-
      haust the current stock and then
      modify procurement  specifications
      to prohibit purchase  of products
      containing 33/50 chemicals.

Procurement of Chemicals and
Laboratory Supplies
      Centralize ordering and stock/inven-
      tory control, including budgeting for
      supplies, at the laboratory director
      level.  Utilize the existing on-line in-
      ventory program  to  track  current
      and future chemical inventory and
      optimize  ordering and stock rota-
      tion to avoid the need to dispose of
      expired chemicals.
      Establish a single point of respon-
      sibility for  receipt and  labeling of

Carbon Filters
  The  Forensic Laboratory uses  22
Flanders Model T-2V-N63-F16, GG-16, V-
Bed Carbon Adsorber Cells, located within
seven ventilation  systems, the largest of
which includes nine cells. The filters con-
tain nuclear grade carbon  and have an
estimated life expectancy of three years,
according to the  manufacturer. Actual use
of the filter  systems is  very light so the
replacement of the filters on a three-year
schedule  may  not  be  warranted.  The
changeout of all of the filters  will generate
2,200 pounds of spent nuclear grade car-
bon and will cost more than $30,000. As
shown  in  Exhibit  3,   during the  first
changeout of the filters,  the cost per filter
will be slightly lower due to the purchase
of spare filters. During   subsequent
changeouts, however, the per filter cost
should be significantly lower than the pur-
chase of new filters and will prevent the
disposal of spent carbon. In addition, as
shown  in  Exhibit 4, the per  pound  re-
placement cost of nuclear grade carbon is
substantially higher than commercial grade
carbon.  If the Forensic Laboratory con-
verts from  nuclear grade to  commercial
grade carbon, cost savings of $5,455 can
be realized when the carbon in replaced.

Exhibit2.    Cost-Saving Pollution Prevention Opportunities
Item(s) of Concern
                                  Current Practice
                             Pollution Prevention
                                        Estimated Potential Savings
Carbon filters

Carbon filters

Carbon filters
Procurement of
chemicals and
laboratory supplies
Replace all carbon filters
after 3 years

Replace all carbon filters
after 3 years

Filters contain nuclear
grade carbon
Collect aluminum,
plastic and glass mixed
food and beverage
containers, and paper

Decentralized process
Measure filter

Rejuvenate filters on
rotating schedule

Convert from nuclear
grade to commercial
grade carbon filters
Establish one multi-facility recycling
program for 4 local
Postal Service
Centralize ordering
and inventory control
Eliminate costs associated with
unnecessary filter replacement*

$600-$ 1055 in filter
replacement and disposal fees**

$1,000 certification fee for
disposal of nuclear grade

$4,455 replacing 22 nuclear
grade carbon filters with
commercial grade carbon

$4,440 in fees for container
rental and collection of

$544 for smaller container and
less frequent pick up charges

Eliminate expenses associated
with overstocking and disposal
of expired chemicals*
* Dollar figure associated with potential savings is unknown.
** The per filter cost to replace and dispose of the carbon filters is estimated to be approximately $1600. The estimated per filter cost to regenerate the carbon
  filters is between $545 and $1005; however, for the first changeout, the per filter cost is estimated to be approximately $1600 due to the extra expense
  of purchasing spare filters.
Conclusions and
  The USPS has encouraged  reduction
and recycling activities in its facilities. Emis-
sions to  air and water from the Forensics
Laboratory  are  minimal. The Laboratory
faces a  significant expenditure in replac-
ing the carbon  filters and  should seek  a
               regeneration option.  The  full  report  pro-
               vides detailed analyses regarding the  cost
               of various filter options.
                 Additionally,  annual solid waste expen-
               ditures could be reduced 83%, from $6,000
               to  $1,016,  by coordination of  reduction
               and  recycling  activities with  the other
               USPS facilities. The laboratory could  also
               establish a centralized system for chemi-
                             cal receipt and labelling to reduce waste
                             and minimize  disposal  of  expired  or un-
                             needed chemicals.
                                The full report was submitted in partial
                             fulfillment of Contract  No.  68-C2-0148,
                             Work Assignment No.  3-10  by Science
                             Applications International Corporation un-
                             der the sponsorship of the U.S.  Environ-
                             mental Protection Agency.

Exhibit 3.    Options for Filter Management

              Option 1:
      Dispose of 22 spent filters
             and replace
                     Option 1
                  Option 2:
             Regenerate carbon
                in the filters
                                       Option 2
Testing costs:
Prior to disposal, the Forensics Laboratory must
test the carbon to determine whether it is
a hazardous waste.

Disposal costs including collection and
22 spent Flanders Filters at an estimated
weight of 2,200 Ibs. as nonhazardous
waste at $80 per filter (the steel may
have recycling value)

22 spent Flanders Filters at an estimated
weight of 2,200 Ibs. as hazardous waste
at $130 per filter.
Purchase costs:
         22 Flanders Filters Model T-2V-
         C63-F16, GG-16,  V-Bed
         Carbon Adsorber Cells complete
         with an initial charge of
         commercial grade carbon.


First Changeout Cost Per Filter

Second Changeout Cost Per Filter




                $1,552 - $1,602

                $1,552 - $1,602
              Testing costs:
              Prior to regeneration
              or disposal, the nuclear
              grade carbon must be tested
              for contaminants.
              Regeneration costs:
              Regeneration of
              Flanders Filters V-bed
              Carbon adsorber cells
              Purchase costs:
              One time purchase of
              nine spare Flanders Filters
              Model T-2V-C63-F16, GG-16,
              V-Bed Carbon Adsorber
              Cells. Each adsorber
              complete with an initial
              charge of commercial grade
                                    $450-600 *
                                                                                    $525-978 each
              Second Changeout does not
              require purchase of new


* Price range reflects bids from different vendors.
Exhibit 4.     Replacement Cost of Carbon

     Material                          Quantity
Nuclear grade carbon

Activated carbon
90 Ibs./filter; 22 filters

90 Ibs./filter; 22 filters



  Carole O. Bell, Mary Hoe/, John Nuckels, and John Conrick are with Science
    Applications International Corporation, Newport, Rl 02840.
  James S. Bridges and N. Theresa Hoagland are the EPA Project Officers (see
  The complete report,  entitled "Pollution Prevention Assessment, U. S. Postal In-
    spection Service National Forensic Laboratory," (Order No. PB97-100010; Cost:
    $21.50, subject to change) will be available only from
          National Technical Information Service
          5285 Port Royal Road
          Springfield,  VA 22161
          Telephone:  703-487-4650
  The EPA Project Officers can be contacted at
          National Risk Management Research Laboratory
          U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
          Cincinnati OH 45268
United States
Environmental Protection Agency
Center for Environmental
Research Information (G-72)
Cincinnati, OH 45268
   PERMIT No. G-35
Official Business
Penalty for Private Use