The laboratory chemicals found within this College are as varied as the purposes for which they are used.  For this reason, general precautions for handling categories of chemicals are more appropriate than specific guidelines for each separate chemical.  Nevertheless, all laboratories have available Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for all chemicals used, handled and stored within the work area.  They are readily available to all employees and students by contacting the Chemical Hygiene Officer or accessing on the Internet.

The Laboratory Director will supply the Chemical Hygiene Officer with a chemical inventory, which will be updated as changes occur. Further, all laboratories will post a chemical code sheet for the stock solutions and mixtures utilized within the work area.  (See Appendix C)

A.  Acute and Chronic Exposure

Recommendations for handling procedures for chemicals begin with the admonition that, even for substances with no known significant hazards, it is prudent to observe universal safe laboratory practices.  Minimize exposure by working in a laboratory fume hood, wearing eye and hand protection, and laboratory coat or apron.

The toxicity of a substance is determined by its ability to damage or interfere with the structure or function of living tissue.  An acute exposure is one that can cause damage as the result of a single or short duration exposure.

Chronic exposure is one that causes damage after repeated or long duration exposure, or becomes evident only after a long period of latency.

With any chemical, it is imperative that the Material Safety Data Sheet be consulted before it is used.  The MSDS will list precautions for proper handling and limits for exposure.

B.  Procurement

  1. Before a substance is received, information on its proper handling, storage and disposal should be known.
  2. Chemicals donated to SUNY ESF must be received in accordance with administrative policy (see, and the appropriate form completed (see )
  3. No containers will be accepted without a proper identifying label.
  4. Whenever possible, a less hazardous or toxic chemical should be substituted.
  5. Chemicals should be purchased in a container size that will result in complete use of the material in a reasonable amount of time. The acquisition of containers of hazardous chemicals greater in size than 5-gallons requires approval of the Environmental Health & Safety Office to ensure all applicable regulations are met.

C.  Transport

Transporting hazardous chemicals from one location to another within the College can be safely accomplished when:

  1. Unbreakable containers or glass bottles, protected with bottle carriers, are used for flammable or corrosive liquids.
  2. The lids for such containers are periodically inspected to ensure their integrity.
  3. Leaking containers are not transported without secondary containment.                  

Central Supply will not release a hazardous substance to any laboratory that does not provide a safe and suitable means for their transport.

D.  Storage

The correct storage of chemicals has become increasingly important to maintain a safe working environment, particularly when the number of chemicals in use increases and their toxicity becomes known.

Problems related to chemical storage can be significantly reduced by following the principles of LIMITING and SEGREGATING.

  1. Toxic substances should be segregated from other chemicals in a well-defined area with local exhaust ventilation.
  2. Chemicals that are considered highly toxic, carcinogenic, or other wise hazardous should be placed in an unbreakable secondary container and properly labeled.
  3. Stored chemicals should be examined at least on an annual basis for deterioration, container integrity, and possible replacement.
  4. The amount of chemicals stored should be as small as practical.
  5. Storage on bench tops and in laboratory hoods is prohibited, unless the hood has been designated as a storage area and is not used to conduct laboratory work.
  6. Do not store bottles on the floor or on carts.
  7. Avoid exposure of chemicals to heat and direct sunlight.
  8. A periodic chemical inventory should be conducted with unneeded chemicals given to the Chemical Hygiene Officer for recycling or disposal.

E.  Designated Area

Laboratories working with carcinogens, reproductive toxins, or acutely toxic substances must establish a Designated Area.  A Designated Area may be any part of a laboratory, a device such as a laboratory hood, or the entire laboratory.

The purpose of the Designated Area is to focus attention on the particularly hazardous substance that is being used and to ensure that all persons in the vicinity observe the necessary protective measures.

Designated Areas must be identified by appropriate signs, and the Laboratory Director must inform the lab occupants of the hazard and emergency procedures.

F.  Approval

Prior approval must be obtained from the appropriate source (Chemical Hygiene Officer, Laboratory Director(s), Radiological Safety Committee, or Biohazard Committee) before laboratory procedures can be undertaken involving the following:

  1. A newly introduced hazardous chemical substance of moderate chronic or high acute toxicity.
  2. Working with substances of known chronic toxicity.

Prior consultation can ensure that appropriate measures are taken to establish safety protocols, minimize exposure, and establish proper waste disposal procedures.


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