UNHCEMS Logo - University of New Hampshire Chemical Environmental Management System is a tool for chemical safety & compliance specialized for educational institutions.

Key Features

Chemical Inventory Tracking
  • Scan product barcodes (UPC codes)
  • Cradle-to-grave container tracking using barcodes
  • Preloaded chemical catalog - no need to key in chemical information for items in catalog
  • Reduce waste by enabling users to surplus / adopt inventory
  • Track consumption by department, owner, location
Documentation Archive
  • Search & upload SDS/MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheets), Chemical Fact Sheets
  • Integrated access with the Chemical Inventory and Emergency Response modules
  • Create custom searchable archives
Emergency Response
  • Specialized reports with real time calculations for total flammable liquids, oxidizers, and water reactants broken down by location
  • Direct Links to NFPA Door Signs, MSDS, Fact Sheets, chemicals inventory in room
  • Option to install and run module offline when no internet connectivity is available
NFPA Door Sign Creator
  • Specify NFPA, pictograms
  • Users can manage and print their own signs
  • Upload custom pictograms
Hazardous Waste Tracking
  • Request removal form
  • Waste pick up email reminders, pick up reports organized by location
  • Waste history reporting
Radioactive Usage Log
  • Assign limits for a site, user, and isotope
  • Realtime total activity calculations
  • Ensure user and site limits are never exceeded with automated alerts
  • Check available to order limits
  • Manage disposals
  • Manage decay and store drums
Biological Inventory
  • Initial BSL ratings auto derived from assigned risk group factors
  • Search inventory and fact sheets
Training Database
  • Manage user training requirements online.
  • Allow training instructors to create and manage their training courses and enrollments.
  • Show users which training requirements they are responsible for completing.
  • Empower managers with the training compliance matrix allowing them to view and edit their associates and assigned training requirements.
  • Create online training courses that fulfill training requirements.
  • Present training materials in a variety of formats such as Power Point, PDF, HTML, videos, or link to external documents / web sites.
  • Allow users to register for classroom session training online.
  • Provide training instructors with a simple grade book.
  • Automatically send reminder and overdue training alerts.
  • Verify users have learned training topics by presenting online tests.
  • Automatically generate course completion certificates when users have successfully completed a course.
  • Ensure courses are scheduled giving users the opportunity to complete their upcoming training requirements.
  • Provide administrators a fully searchable historic database of all completed training requirements and course enrollments.
Custom Forms
  • Create forms for modeling custom inventories, compliance forms, checklists, document management systems
  • Creating forms is easy - enter the question text, enter a report label, set the widget type (input box, select box, file upload)
  • Enhance custom forms with data input validation, conditional visibility
  • Tie in with other data in UNHCEMS such as the privilege system, user database, buildings & rooms, manufacturers, other custom forms
  • Specify privileges required to view and submit new data
  • Control who can search, view and edit submission data using a flow chart
  • Delegate responsibility to complete custom compliance forms on due date intervals
  • Built-in Comprehensive Reporting
    • DHS Chemicals of Interest Reporting
    • EPA List of List Reporting
    • Custom Reportable Quantities Reporting
    • Detailed chemical inventory reports by location or by user
    • Integrated reporting tool allows users to query, filter, and sort data quickly
    • Users can save reports to their dashboard to execute in the future
    • Users can export any data they are allowed to view into external applications such as Microsoft Excel.
    • Direct SQL Access
    • Zero Client Install - Accessible through any web browser.
    • Supports all web browsers (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Chrome)
    • Desktop PC / MAC / Linux compatible
    • Enhanced for mobile devices (iOS/iPhone/iPad/iPod, Android)
    • Section 508 Compliant
    Security Controls
    • Secure communication using SSL (https) technology
    • UNH hosting is in a secure facility behind a firewall with generated power
    • Control access to UNHCEMS by location (IP address)
    • Create unlimited user accounts, with assigned roles
    • Provision user accounts from external systems
    • Supports custom authentication modules including LDAP, pass-through authentication
    Dynamic Dashboard
    • Central area allowing quick and easy access to all parts of the CEMS system
    • Simplify usability by only displaying forms, reports, and alerts the current logged in user is allowed to see
    • Administrators can manage dashboard items and even create new links
    Priced Right
    • Competitively Priced
    • No per seat licensing costs
    • No restrictions on number of users
    • No locked features

    What is UNHCEMS?

    UNHCEMS in use


    As a resolution with the EPA to meet the requirements of an SEP, UNHCEMS® was created in the fall of 2001. Since then, over thirty institutions have joined in a collaborative effort to extend the software to meet current and future needs of the group. View more information on the development and use of UNHCEMS®.


    To determine if UNHCEMS® is right for your institution, read this document, view the User Guides, view an introductory training video, sign up for the demo, and share your experience with others at your institution. When you are ready to take the next step, contact us at cems-info@sr.unh.edu. Feel free to request a web conference if additional information is required that is not already covered in this document, training videos, or demo. Suggest a date and time convenient for you.

    Our partner, GeoInsight, is an additional resource that specializes in UNHCEMS® deployment strategies and on-site training. GeoInsight's UNHCEMS® support services are priced independently.

    We strive to ensure all information necessary in evaluating UNHCEMS is available on this web site. If you feel something is missing, or need additional clarification, please email cems-info@sr.unh.edu with your questions. We often include questions asked by other institutions in the Frequently Asked Questions section of this web site.


    Contact our licensing specialist at cems-info@sr.unh.edu to obtain the latest license agreement.

    UNH Hosted CEMS License

    • + easy set up
    • + system/security updates & CEMS upgrades are done by UNH
    • + all data is backed up nightly
    • + your server is located in a secure climate controlled data center with generated power at UNH
    • - reliance on Internet connection to UNH

    The agreement and above pricing are for a single geographical location (single campus) where UNHCEMS® has been installed for in-house chemical inventory management purposes. It does not include multiple campuses of a single entity, including satellite campuses.

    Hardware Requirements

    UNHCEMS® does not have an absolute set of requirements because they vary based on number of simultaneous connections, network environment, and whether other OS services are running. Most sites will run CEMS on an existing Apache web server. You may decide to do the same and if performance becomes a problem, buy a dedicated server. Your CEMS license does not tie you to specific hardware. UNH hosts six CEMS sites on one server with the following specification.

    • Intel 2GHz CPU
    • 2GB of system memory
    • 20 GB hard drive space

    Additional Information

    You may find the following information useful in deciding if UNHCEMS® fits into your institution. Feel free to contact cems-info@sr.unh.edu if you have questions.

    • UNHCEMS® is installed as an Apache virtual host with Perl CGI modules that generate content from a transactional MySQL database
    • source code is provided
    • UNHCEMS® is not open source - you may not redistribute UNHCEMS®
    • source code mods are encouraged and tools are included that will allow mods to work with later versions of the software
    • sites creating source mods are not required to share those mods
    • mods you create are not guaranteed to work with later versions of software
    • custom mods allow competent Perl developers to expand their CEMS software in an unlimited means to provide LDAP integration, adding new fields to forms, etc..
    • UNH can also help develop source mods

    Client Requirements

    Any computer with Internet connection running a current standards based web browser such as Internet Explorer >= 9, Google Chrome, Firefox, or Safari is required to access CEMS. Each computer that will be used to add inventory, should also have a barcode scanner, and preprinted barcodes. Make sure the barcode type you choose is plastic coated and cold resistant. When ordering barcodes, use unique numeric Code 128 barcodes with at least 9 digits (preceding zeros are OK). UNHCEMS® customers can receive a discount when ordering from https://idlabelinc.com/ or (847) 265-1200.

    Any generic barcode scanner will work. You can confirm compatibility by verifying that the scanner supports Code 128 on the specification sheet. It is difficult to make exact recommendations because the products change frequently. Some of the scanners also support Bluetooth integration and may be used with mobile devices.

    If you plan on using the NFPA Door Sign Maker, you may want to plan on getting door sign holders (module 8.11). UNHCEMS® door signs can be printed on regular 8.5x11 paper with any laser / ink jet printer.

    Project Plan

    From experience we have found the following steps to work well for most sites. Feel free to consult us on how this plan can be altered to fit the needs of your institution.

    Evaluate UNHCEMS

    Key stakeholders should form a group to evaluate UNHCEMS. Start the evaluation by visiting the UNHCEMS info site http://cems-info.sr.unh.edu, watch an introductory training video, review documentation, and sign up for the demo. The demo contains a full version of the software which is available for all members of your institution. If the group has questions, email the UNHCEMS support staff at cems-info@sr.unh.edu.

    estimated time: 1 month

    Identify Institutional Needs

    Stakeholders should identify areas where the software needs to be extended to meet institutional needs. Communicate these needs with the UNHCEMS support staff at cems-info@sr.unh.edu. Evaluate which items are required at the intial roll out. Prioritize remaining items for future development.

    estimated time: 1 week

    Designate a Database Administrator

    A CEMS database administrator is responsible for executing the project plan, maintaining data in the system, providing on site user support/training, and will be the primary contact when requesting additional support from UNH. Most sites utilize existing EH&S staff to fill this need. A CEMS database administrator must have general knowledge in how a database, spreadsheet, web browser, and record forms function. The CEMS database administrator does not need expertise in SQL, programming languages, or server administration.

    License UNHCEMS

    Communicate your decision to the UNHCEMS licensing manager at cems-info@sr.unh.edu.

    estimated time: 2 months

    Install UNHCEMS

    After UNH receives the signed license agreement and subscription fee, the UNHCEMS software will be made available. For UNH hosted sites, the site usually is available within 1-2 business days. After the installation is complete the designated CEMS database administrator will receive a welcome email with instructions on how to set a password.

    estimated time: 1 week

    Initial Training

    The designated CEMS database administrator should familiarize themselves with their new CEMS site by adding new chemical inventory, user, department, SDS records. Additional training videos and documentation are available within the CEMS system. Additional online training is available by contacting UNHCEMS support at: cems-support@sr.unh.edu. If on site support is required please contact GeoInsight.

    estimated time: 1 week

    Initial Inventory Procedure

    The best way to collect an initial inventory is to gather workers in teams of two and inventory locations throughout your institution. Hiring and training students over their summer break is one of the easiest ways to approach this hurdle. One team member will be responsible for handling containers, and the other one responsible for data entry. The process of entering a container usually entails typing in a product number, verifying chemical information, then scanning a barcode. From past initial inventories, we have found that each team of two can inventory approximately 45 containers per hour. Make sure each team has a computer that can access the internet, a scanner, and a roll of barcodes. The initial inventory is also a great time to do lab clean outs.

    estimated time: 3 months

    New Inventory Procedure

    Set up one or more areas where new inventory can be inspected and barcoded. It is very important that all new chemical containers get into the system. The best way to ensure that this happens is to have trained users take delivery and enter the containers into CEMS. This requires that all users within your institution address their chemical orders to the receipt and transfer station. Most vendors and delivery persons will also route all shipments to a designated address. Each receipt and transfer station will need a computer meeting the client requirements.

    estimated time: 1 month

    Define Chemical Inventory

    Formulate a policy defining what groups of chemicals need to be tracked. From experience we recommend:

    • barcode all chemical containers
    • do not barcode biologicals (use the biologicals module instead)
    • do not barcode cleaning supplies
    • barcode reusable containers once
    • barcode areas (walls, shelf) where there is static non fluctuating inventory (such as gas cylinders)


    Once the inventory is in the system, advertise CEMS to your institution. Set up some training sessions and require all employees working with chemicals to attend. You may also want to contact your human resources department monthly to get a list of new employees so that you can contact them. Once enough users have accounts, word will spread and users will start requesting accounts directly from the CEMS site.

    Adopt New Modules

    Once the inventory is in the system, start looking into how other modules such as NFPA Door Signs, Compliance Reporting, and Emergency Response may fit into your institution.

    Assess & Respond to New Needs

    After using CEMS for a period of time, institutions may discover they have additional needs than what the system provides. Please communicate these needs to the UNHCEMS support staff at cems-support@sr.unh.edu. It is often the case that your needs are also the needs of the other subscribers. When this is the case, UNHCEMS support staff will implement new features and deploy them to all sites. Custom site modifications are also available.

    Ongoing Maintenance

    The CEMS dashboard contains a My Responsibilities section that is custom tailored for each user. In this section, CEMS automatically displays to do tasks. For example the following reports, when enabled, may appear on a user's My Responsibilities. The success of a CEMS site depends on user response to their assigned responsibilities.

    • NFPA Door Sign renewal notices
    • compliance report reminders & overdue notices
    • radioactive over limit reports
    • missing SDS report
    • pending account requests
    • software upgrade notices
    • radioactive decay & store waste ready for disposal
    • pending waste removal requests


    The designated CEMS database administrator is responsible for providing support to all CEMS users. When a CEMS database administrator needs help, they should contact UNH CEMS support. Phone and email support is available during normal work hours.


    What fields can be used to search the chemical inventory?
    Barcode, chemical name, owner, manufacturer, product number, and whether the substance is available for surplus are all available from the inventory search form. Users can also view all inventory they have access to and then create a custom report that allows the user to show, filter, and sort any field in the system through the CEMS data viewer.
    Can I add new inventory with HandyCEMS?
    No, we have found that adding new inventory on PDAs is too cumbersome since adding new inventory can require additional keyboard input.
    Can we integrate CEMS with our existing Portal / Login / LDAP / etc system?
    Yes, through the use of CEMS source mods, applications can be integrated with CEMS.
    Can we use Oracle or another database with UNHCEMS®?
    No, currently UNHCEMS® only is configured to work with MySQL.
    Can we license individual UNHCEMS® components (such as the chemical inventory module)?
    No, all components are licensed together. This simplifies the software bundle and allows CEMS Database Administrators to try out new modules without having to purchase them first. Having all the modules installed will not clutter menus since CEMS only displays components the user logged in has rights to view.
    How is data secured in the system?
    CEMS can only be accessed from a custom list of allowed locations (IP address ranges). Users must also log in using a password to access anything other than the MSDS archive and some other misc. documentation. Authenticated users can only access data they have rights to view. This is accomplished in two ways. Either, an administrator has assigned a role to the user explicitly granting access, or the user is associated to the data in a manner that gives them implicit rights. An example of implicit access is if a user is the chemical owner, they would have owner rights to the container record. UNHCEMS® also provides additional implicit access controls through the use of access groups and lab associates. Members in an access group share owner rights to other member's inventory. Similarly, lab associates can also be assigned to chemical owners which grant them owner rights.
    What security precautions are in place if I choose to host with UNH?
    CEMS sites hosted by UNH are located in a secure, temperature controlled, power conditioned machine room. All data is backed up nightly and backups are stored off site on a regular basis.
    How are upgrades and system maintenance handled if I choose to host with UNH?
    We will do our very best to make sure your site is available during normal work hours. CEMS upgrades are scheduled either in the early morning or at night. Occasionally, we will need to schedule down time. In these cases, advance notice is given through the CEMS dashboard in the notices section. If the down time conflicts with an important event we will do our very best to work within the needs of our customers. Unscheduled down time will be handled as quickly as possible during the normal work week.
    Can we decide to not upgrade, and run an earlier version of CEMS when using UNH hosting?
    No. Although depending on the circumstances, the upgrade can be delayed. This has never been an issue with our clients. Upgrades can contain important security patches which must be installed in order to keep all CEMS sites operational. We will make every effort to work through any issues to alleviate concerns an upgrade may cause to how a site uses their CEMS.
    Can you come to our site and help us do our inventory, or help with training?
    Our partner, GeoInsight, has expertise in UNHCEMS® training and deployment. Please contact them to learn more.
    Do we have to barcode the inventory to use UNHCEMS®?
    Yes. We have found the only way to effectively track inventory & consumption is if inventory is individually tracked.
    Does UNHCEMS® offer a purchasing module?
    No. UNHCEMS® tracks inventory once it has arrived on location. Our users have indicated that a purchasing module is not necessary. Many of our users need to order from multiple vendors and all containers still require a person to affix a barcode and scan the container into the system.
    Will data be erased if a container is deleted?
    When a container is empty, it is not deleted from the system. Instead it is marked empty which prevents it from appearing on the normal inventory search.
    Is there a limit on the number of containers, rooms, MSDS, users, etc that can be entered into the system?
    Sure, there is a theoretical limit, but for all intents and purposes, it is not a concern. UNHCEMS® over active 700 users, 874 rooms, 106 buildings, 85383 containers, 23935 MSDS and performance is excellent even while hosting five other CEMS sites on the same machine.
    Are licensing limits imposed for the number of user accounts, simultaneous connections, MSDS, etc?
    No, a CEMS license permits unlimited access for creating new accounts, connections, and data.
    Can we share our license with our campuses, schools within our district, etc?
    Yes, but data between sites will be shared. For example, buildings names will need to be unique across all sites. Users will also have the ability to search inventory from other sites if the user has privileges to search all inventory.
    Some manufactures already have a barcode on the container. Can we use that one?
    No. Those barcodes will not uniquely identify containers of the same product. Each container must have a unique barcode.
    Can we import our existing chemical inventory database?
    Yes, If the database can be exported to a parsable text format (CSV, tab delimited, etc) containing at least the barcode, chemical name, and location.
    How does the surplus / adoption program work?
    Instead of disposing chemicals, users may mark the container available for surplus. A user can only surplus containers they have owner rights to. Once a container is surplussed, other authorized users can adopt the container by clicking the adopt button on the chemical record. Instructions to complete the adoption are given and eventually the system reassigns ownership of the container. Users can search for surplus inventory on the search inventory screen.
    How is the MSDS archive updated?
    Each new CEMS system will be deployed with over 23,000 MSDS documents. Each site will be responsible for uploading MSDS for new chemicals that are not already in the database. CEMS provides missing MSDS reports to users with the MSDS Manager role so that they can easily locate missing documentation. At UNH, we utilize trained student workers to keep our archive up to date.
    What is the Particularly Hazardous Chemicals List?
    Each CEMS site can maintain a custom list of PHCs. Each PHC can have a fact sheet containing additional safety information. Fact sheets are like MSDS, but they are easier to read, and can include safety information specific to your site. UNH has classified 99 chemicals as PHCs with assigned hazards of acute toxic, reproductive toxic, select carcinogenic, and peroxidizable. PHCs are flagged throughout the system to increase awareness and safety. Each new CEMS site comes with a database of the current UNH PHC list. Sites can customize this list by adding & deleting chemicals or adding & deleting hazard groups.
    How can I customize my CEMS site?
    CEMS database administrators can add custom HTML code for the related links, info, documentation, and notices pages. Custom background color/images can also be defined. CEMS source mods allow any other imaginable custom modification.
    Will CEMS automatically submit required reports for chemicals we must report on (i.e. EPA Tier 2 report)?
    No, but CEMS will help you to construct the report. The reportable quantities module allows CEMS database administrators to find total mass or volume of substances for declared chemicals in the inventory over specified date ranges. The results can then be further filtered to remove substances that do not need to be reported on such as diluted mixtures, or totals less than the threshold.
    Can I create custom reports with SQL?
    Yes. Database administrators can write their own SQL or they can utilize UNH CEMS support services to write the report for them. Once an SQL report has been generated, it is available to other sites through the CEMS support forums.
    What other software packages should we look at when picking an EMS?
    • Cambridgesoft's ChemOffice
    • Vertere's Inventory Manager
    • Chemical Safety EMS
    • ChemSW
    • Chematix
    • Chemtracker
    What advantages does UNHCEMS® have when comparing to other software?
    • no per user license fees
    • no connection limits or charges
    • no per MSDS fees
    • designed for educational institutions
    • accessed through a normal web browser, no client software installation
    • designed to be expanded for custom needs
    • server software will run on Linux & Microsoft Windows PCs
    • client component only requires a web browser supporting current web standards
    • each license comes with phone & email support
    • easy software setup
    Can you show us some stats from other schools using UNHCEMS®?
    View stats from eight of our RCC hosted CEMS systems by clicking this link. These stats show the type of usage you can expect by comparing the number of users and rooms you have versus eight other universities using UNHCEMS®.
    Can we use our existing barcode technology with UNHCEMS®?
    Maybe. UNHCEMS® uses the most common barcode symbology - Code 128. Other symboloy may also work. Please contact us for more information. Barcode printing systems using this standard should work fine. However, we recommend users buy preprinted barcodes. We have found that the labels are less resistant to smudging. http://barcodeswest.com/ offers a discount for preprinted barcodes for UNHCEMS® customers.

    Barcode scanners that connect to computers over USB or keyboard passthough connections should be compatible. Basically, all Code 128 compatible scanners that can report a barcode number as text into notepad will work just fine.

    Some users have existing scanners that have a built-in mini computer. These are useful for taking inventory offline. UNHCEMS® does not have software that will run on these devices. As a more economical alternative, UNHCEMS® includes HandyCEMS software that allows users to utilize Pocket PC devices for doing room reinventories.
    How are chemicals flagged for reporting?
    Chemicals are flagged by their CAS number or chemical name. The Reportable quantities module allows users to enter lists of CAS numbers and chemical names. UNHCEMS® can then calculate the total mass/volume for a date range. Quantities are calculated in real time with the help of standard unit conversions and densities supplied by the product catalog. Reportable quantity reports can be saved and executed at any time.

    UNHCEMS® also includes the DHS Top Screen report. This report is predefined and automatically calculates total quantities for concentration limits.
    Does CEMS support RFID technology?
    There is nothing stopping a site from using RFID scanning technology with UNHCEMS now. There are some concerns with RFID technology and its use in labs that have caused it to not be widely adopted. As the technology advances, we will continue to monitor it and will reassess this statement accordingly.
    Does UNHCEMS comply with Section 508 standards?
    Yes. Please see our compliance statement and VPAT form.