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10: Standard Laboratory Safe Handling 

General SOP | Allergans/Embryotoxins | Toxic Chemicals | Carcinogens | Animal work | Compressed Gas | Flammables | Highly Reactive

10.1 Prudent planning and techniques for safe handling of chemicals.

Calculate the quantity required of each chemical before starting work and take only the amount needed.

Use bottle-carriers or other packaging and/or cartons that will safely contain a spill when transporting chemical containers.

Mix chemicals slowly, and with stirring. Add the more concentrated chemical to the solvent, or more dilute solution.

Do not transfer unused chemicals back into primary containers. Transfer them into clean, properly labeled containers for future use or dispose of them properly.

Promptly replace caps on opened containers of chemicals.

Storage trays or secondary containers can minimize the spread of leaking or spilled chemicals. Thus, whenever possible, secondary containers should be used for concentrated acids, or bases; acutely toxic chemicals; select carcinogens; and flammable chemicals with a flashpoint less than 1000° F or 380° C.

Use proper ventilation when handling chemicals with hazardous vapors. Generally, chemicals with a TLV less than 50 ppm should be used in a fume hood.

Do not allow release of toxic substances in cold rooms or warm rooms since their atmosphere is re-circulated.

Dispose of chemical waste appropriately.

10.2 Working with Allergens and Embryotoxins

10.2.1 Supplemental Safe Handling Rules:

Keep contact to a minimum.

Wear appropriate gloves and/or a dust mask as recommended by the manufacturer.

Follow the specific precaution recommendations provided by the substance’s MSDS.

If you are a woman of childbearing age, handle embyrotoxins only in a fume hood whose satisfactory performance has been confirmed. Use appropriate protective equipment, especially gloves, to prevent skin contact. See Table A-3 for list of embryotoxins used in the biology department.

Store these substances, properly labeled in an adequately ventilated area in an unbreakable secondary container.

Notify supervisors of all incidents of exposure or spills; consult a qualified physician when appropriate

Annually, or whenever a procedural change is made, the Biology Safety Committee will review use of these materials.

10.3 Working with Chemicals of Moderate Chronic or High Acute Toxicity

See Tables A-1 and A-2 for a list of Biology Department chemicals documented to possess moderate chronic or high acute toxicity.

Aim: to minimize exposure to these toxic substances by any route using all reasonable precautions

Applicability: these precautions are appropriate for substances with moderate chronic or high acute toxicity used in significant quantities. Tables A-1 and A-2 include examples of maximum quantities that can be spilled and evaporated without exceeding Threshold Limit Values (TLVs) in a static environment.

Storage Location: Store these substances in "Restricted Access" cabinets (containing warning signs). Access will be restricted by locked cabinetry. Dr. Marcus Webster and Carol Jansky will maintain custody of the keys.

Signs displaying the message, "Caution: Moderate-High Chronic to High Acute Toxicity Chemicals in use," are posted in the fume hoods found in Labs 203, 207, 219, 230, 240, and 310. (Examples of signs are found in Appendix E). The name of the moderate chronic or high acute toxicity chemical that may be used in the fume hood is listed on the sign. The appropriate personal protective equipment is also listed.

Personal Protective equipment: The Caution sign will also list appropriate protective equipment which can include disposable impervious aprons and sleeves or disposable impervious smocks. Impervious smocks are stored near the restricted access cabinets.

Waste Disposal: Sharps containers, and special solid waste collection containers (for weigh boats, soiled personal protective equipment etc.) are stored near the "restricted access" cabinets.

Supplemental Safe Handling Rules:

Use a functioning fume hood to minimize exposure to these chemicals. Weigh out quantities of pure chemicals only in a functioning fume hood. Extremely dilute solutions can be used in areas outside the fume hood if appropriate precautions are taken to ensure exposure limits are not exceeded

Gloves are always required whenever handling these chemicals. Wear additional appropriate PPE including, disposable impervious apron, sleeves, faceshield, and goggles as needed. Goggles are required if any manipulations (extremely dilute solutions only) are done outside a fume hood. Impervious apron, sleeves are required if spills or splashes are reasonably anticipated.

Wash hands and arms immediately after working with these materials.

Minimize the quantities used and stored in the laboratory. Use only the least amount required, and as dilute of a solution as possible. See Tables A1 and A2 for examples of maximum quantities that might be spilled and allowed to evaporate in a static environment.

Thoroughly wash the work area after use. Dispose contaminated paper toweling in the special waste container.

All contaminated wastes must be collected and disposed appropriately. Place solid waste in the special disposal containers. Label the plastic liner with the names of the chemicals that have contaminated the solid waste. Liquid waste should be collected in screw-top containers with a complete listing of its components and their concentration.

When not in use, these chemicals should be stored in a limited access area and within protective containment devices.

Monitor exposure using detection equipment (see Appendix D) as required. Monitoring should also be done if a reason exists to suspect that TLV are exceeded.

Workers routinely exposed to toxicologically significant quantities of a chemical should consult with the biology safety committee to ascertain whether a regular schedule of medical surveillance is desirable.

When using chemicals listed as select carcinogens, or which possess extreme acute or extreme chronic health hazards, care must be taken to ensure PELs will not be exceeded in student activities. Use as dilute a solution as possible and minimal quantities.

Return the special solid waste container to its storage locations after completion of the task involving these chemicals. Alert Carol Jansky if this container is filled.

Alert Carol Jansky if the supply of disposable personal protective equipment, or sharps container needs to be restocked.

The biology safety committee will audit usage of chemicals with level 4 acute or level 3 chronic health hazard ratings to ensure that safety is maintained.

Records of the amounts of these substances on hand, amounts used, and the names of the workers involved must be maintained. Primary containers will contain labels upon which the person removing a quantity of the substance should record their initials, the quantity removed, the date, and course number. A list of personnel authorized to use these chemicals and their initials will be maintained.

Containers of these substances will be appropriately labeled with identity and warning labels.

10.4 Working with Chemicals of High Chronic Toxicity (Human carcinogens)

See Table A-1 for a list of Biology Department chemicals that are documented to possess high chronic toxicity, i.e.. human carcinogens.

Notification of use of these chemicals is required. Other supplemental safe handling rules include:

Access: These substances will be stored only in "Restricted Access" areas (containing warning signs) in faculty research laboratories. Access will be restricted by locked cabinetry. Dr. Marcus Webster or Carol Jansky will maintain custody of the keys

Signage during use: Signs displaying the message, "Caution: Moderate-High Chronic to High Acute Toxicity Chemicals in use," are posted in the fume hoods found in Labs 203, 207, 219, 230, 240, and 310. (Examples of signs are found in Appendix E). The name of the moderate chronic or high acute toxicity chemical that may be used in the fume hood is listed on the sign. The appropriate personal protective equipment is also listed.

Personal Protective equipment: The Caution sign will also list appropriate protective equipment which can include disposable impervious aprons and sleeves or disposable impervious smocks. Impervious smocks are stored near the restricted access cabinets.

Waste Disposal: Sharps containers, and special solid waste collection containers (for weigh boats, soiled personal protective equipment etc.) are stored near the "restricted access" cabinets.

Supplemental Safe Handling Rules

Gloves, impervious smocks, and goggles are required whenever these chemicals are used. Wear a faceshield as needed.

Minimize the quantities used and stored in the laboratory. Use the least amount possible and as dilute of a solution as possible.

All contaminated wastes must be collected and disposed appropriately. Solid waste should be placed in a special disposal container and labeled with the names of the chemicals with which the solid waste is contaminated. Liquid waste should be collected in screw-top containers with all the components and their concentrations listed on the label.

Take precautions to avoid contamination of equipment.

Thoroughly wash work area after use. Dispose contaminated paper toweling in the special waste container.

When not in use, these chemicals should be stored in a limited access area and within protective containment devices.

Before exiting an area where these chemicals have been manipulated, remove any protective apparel, placing it in the special solid waste container and thoroughly wash hands, forearms, face and neck.

Return the special solid waste container to its storage locations after completion of the task involving these chemicals. Alert Carol Jansky if the waste container is filled.

Alert Carol Jansky if the supply of disposable personal protective equipment, or sharps container needs to be restocked

Housekeeping: use a wet mop or a vacuum cleaner equipped with a HEPA filter instead of dry sweeping if the toxic substance was a dry powder. The biology department does not currently have access to a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter. Wet mopping of areas is allowed only if small quantities of the toxic substance are spilled. Life Safety Services should be contacted if large quantities have been spilled.

Medical surveillance: If using toxicologically significant quantities of such a substance on a regular basis (e.g. 3 times per week), consult a qualified physician concerning desirability of regular surveillance. Consult the chemical's Permissible Exposure Limits to determine if toxicologically significant quantities are being used.

Records of the amounts of these substances on hand, amounts used, and the names of the workers involved must be maintained. Primary containers will contain labels upon which the person removing a quantity of the substance should record their name, the quantity removed, the date, and course number. A list of personnel authorized to use these chemicals and their initials will be maintained.

Containers of these substances will be appropriately labeled with identity and warning labels

10.5 Animal Work with Chemicals of High Chronic Toxicity

Example: Injection of turtles with urethane:

Access: For large-scale studies, special facilities with restricted access are preferred.

Administration of the toxic substance: When possible, administer the substance by injection or gavage rather than in the diet. If administration is in the diet, use a caging system under negative pressure or under laminar airflow directed toward HEPA filters.

Aerosol suppression: Devise procedures that minimize formation and dispersal of contaminated aerosols. Use the fume hood if injecting the animal with the high chronic toxicity material.

Wear appropriate PPE, including disposable impervious apron and sleeves or disposable smock, gloves and goggles when working with animals that have been administered these substances. Dispose of contaminated personal protective equipment in the special solid-waste disposal containers.

Dispose contaminated animal tissues and excreta as hazardous chemical waste. Place remains in a freezer and notify Carol Jansky or a member of the safety committee for disposal. Place a "Caution: Moderate-High Toxic and High Acute Chemical in Use" sign on the freezer door, and indicate what material is contaminated, and the name of the contaminating material. Contaminated animal tissue must remain frozen until the day of shipment. If insufficient freezer space is available, contact a member of the safety committee.

10.6 Compressed Gases General Handling Procedures:

Securely fasten compressed gas cylinders in an upright position and in such a manner that they cannot be tipped.

Do not expose cylinders to temperature higher than 50 °C (122 ° F). Some rupture devices on cylinders will release at about 65 ° C (149 °F). Small cylinders might not be fitted with rupture devices and might explode if exposed to higher temperatures.

Never lubricate, modify, force or tamper with cylinder valves. Do not exchange regulator fittings.

Check for leaks by swabbing all connections with a soap solution, and watching for bubbles.

For the gas being used, follow the handling instructions in the MSDS.

Maintain the integrity of labels. Color codes are not uniform among manufacturers, so the decal or label is the only positive identification present.

Do not smoke or use open flames where oxidant or flammable gases are stored.

A cylinder without regulators must be capped and secured at all times.

Store all gas cylinders in a well-protected, well-ventilated and dry location, away from elevators, stairs, or public hallways.

Do not store gas cylinders in unventilated enclosures such as lockers and cupboards.

Flammable gas cylinders stored inside buildings must be stored 20 feet away from flammable liquids, highly combustible materials and oxidizers and not near arcing electrical equipment, open flame or other sources of ignition.

Oxidizing gases must be separated by a distance of 20 feet or a non-combustible barrier of at least five feet high from flammable gas containers or combustible materials (especially oil or grease). The non-combustible barrier must have a fire resistance rating of at least one half-hour.

Moving a compressed gas cylinder:

Remove the regulator and replace the protective cap.

Never lift gas cylinders by the container cap or using magnets.

Use a hand truck. Properly secure the cylinder on the truck before beginning the move.

Never drag or slide cylinders, even over short distances.

Avoid subjecting cylinders to excessive mechanical shocks.

Do not accompany a gas cylinder when using an elevator.

10.7 Reduction of exposure to physical injury.

10.7.1 Supplemental safety rules follow to reduce the exposure to physical injury

Recommendations thus far are directed primarily toward reducing toxic exposure. Prevention of physical injury has not been discussed. However, physical injury will often have the secondary effect of causing toxic exposures.

10.7.2 Supplemental Safety Rules for Flammable Chemicals:

Use only approved plastic containers or funnels when transferring flammable liquids in quantities larger than one gallon.

Use bonding and grounding cable when transferring flammable liquids in quantities larger than one gallon.

Use storage containers with flashback mesh or other appropriate safety device when volumes exceed one gallon.

Keep in covered containers unless in use.

Do not interchange storage containers. Label the storage container clearly to avoid mixing flammable chemicals.

Keep all sources of ignition, high heat, and combustion far removed from storage and dispensing areas. Always keep organic solvents away from inadvertent contact with oxidizers.

Dispense all solvents in the fume hood.

Do not store flammable liquids on the floor.

Store and use in the smallest amounts possible.

10.7.3 Supplemental Safety Rules for Explosives, Highly Reactive Chemicals and Oxidizers

Unstable or reactive chemicals in their pure state or as commercially produced, will vigorously polymerize, decompose, condense or will become self-reactive under conditions of shock, pressure, or temperature. Compounds containing the following functional groups tend to be sensitive to heat and shock: acetylide, diazo, nitroso, peroxide, axide, halamine, ozonide.

Peroxides can be formed from some common laboratory chemicals after exposure to air. Peroxides can be violently explosive in concentrated form or as solids. Usually concentrations up to 1% of peroxide do no pose a thermal or shock hazard. See Table B for a list of peroxide forming chemicals used in the biology department. Organic peroxides are another class of compounds that present an explosion hazard.

Compounds containing nitro groups can be highly reactive, especially if other components such as halogens are present. Treat the following groups with respect, especially at higher temperatures: perchlorates, nitrates, chlorites, chlorates, bromates, iodates.

10.7.4 Safe Handling Procedures for Highly Reactive Chemicals:

The biology safety committee must approve use of chemicals that are flagged "extreme explosives hazard".

Dispose of peroxide forming chemicals within the period specified in Table B after opening the container.

Consult the MSDS or appropriate references, and follow its guidelines.

Bring the chemicals into the laboratory only if required.

Use the smallest quantity possible.

Do not mix even small quantities with other chemicals without prior knowledge of the hazards involved.

Wear safety goggles, a lab coat, and appropriate gloves.

Highly reactive chemicals cannot be stored in the same room as flammable liquids