Prepared by:   RU EHS                 Roosevelt University Environment, Health,             and Safety Committee

Department of Biological, Chemical and Physical Sciences


Shara Compton

John Damascus

Tasneem Islam

Kristen Leckrone

Vicky McKinley

Robert Seiser


Last Edited:



Emergency Contact Information

Emergency includes injuries, fires, spills, floods, equipment alarms or power outage


Chemical Hygiene Officer: Tasneem Islam

Ph (work) : 847-619-8583


Ph (cell):    847-773-5434

Biology Liaison : Robert Seiser

Ph (work) : 847-619-8758


Ph (cell):    847-977-3454


Chemical Hygiene Officer : Kristen Leckrone

Ph (work) : 847-619-8970


Ph (cell):    773-793-9214

Biology Liaison : Vicky McKinley

Ph (work) : 847-619-8559


Ph (cell):    847-894-7104

Other contacts:

Department Assistant Chair : Joshua Telser

Ph (work) :        847-619-8586


Ph (cell) :           773-573-2611

Department Chair : Cornelius Watson

Ph (work) :         847-619-8580


Ph (cell):          773-733-1493

Schaumburg Laboratory Manager: John Damascus

Ph (work) : 847-619-8582

Ph (cell):    847-873-9324

Chicago Laboratory Manager: Michael Newsom

Ph (work) : 312-341-3681

Ph (cell):    773-403-4168

After 7 PM the above contacts may not be on campus, so contact Security for all emergencies:

Chicago : x2020

Schaumburg : x8989

Emergency Fire or Medical Services : 9-911 from a campus phone

                                          911 from a cell phone

Table of Contents


A.  Plan Definitions        8

B.  Plan Organization        9


A.  Department Chair        10

B.  Chemical Hygiene Officers (CHO)        10

C.  Environment, Health & Safety Coordinator        11

D.  Environment, Health & Safety Committee        11

E.  Laboratory Managers        11

F.  Faculty, Staff, and Students        12

G.  Visitors, Minors, and Tour Participants        13

H.  Environment, Health & Safety Emergency Contact Information        13


A.  Laboratory Layout        15

B.  Furniture and Fixtures        16

C.  Signs and Labels        17

D.  Emergency Equipment        18

E.  Ventilation        19

F.  Housekeeping, Maintenance, and Inspection        20

G.  Maintenance and Validation of Safety Equipment        22

1.  Fume Hood Monitoring        22

2.  Eyewash and Safety Shower Inspection and Testing        23

3.  Fire Extinguisher Inspection        23

4.  Other Safety Equipment        24

5.   Inspection Reports        24


A.  Laboratory Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)        24

1.  Pre-Laboratory Considerations        24

2.  Personal Behavior        25

3.  Transporting Chemicals        26

4.  Safety Procedures for Conducting Chemical Reactions        26

a.  Working Alone        26

b.  Working with Scaled-Up Reactions        27

c.  Unattended Experiments        27

B.  Identifying Hazardous Materials        28

1.  Federal Regulations of Communications about Hazardous Materials        28

a.  Chemical Labeling        29

b.  Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS)        30

c.  Hazard Determination        30

d.  Written Implementation Program        30

e.  Employee Training        30

f.  Trade Secrets        30

2.  Classification of Hazardous Materials        30

a.  Corrosive Materials        30

b.  Fire Hazards        32

c.  Explosion Hazards        35

d.  Toxic Substances and Poisons        37

e.  Broken Glass and Thermometers        38

C.  Labeling of Hazardous Materials        38

1.  Health Hazards (blue)        39

2.  Flammability (red)        40

3.  Chemical Reactivity (yellow)        40

4.  NFPA Hazard Diamond        41

5.  HMIG Labeling System        41

D.  Transport of Hazardous Materials        43

E.  Procurement and Distribution of Chemicals        47

1.  Laboratory and Chemical Security        47

2.  Delivery of Chemicals to the Science Laboratories        48

3.  Purchase of Large Chemical Quantities        48

4.  Ordering Chemicals        48

F.  Storage of Chemicals        49

1.  General Considerations        49

2.  Finding Chemicals in the Roosevelt University Inventory System        50

3.  Segregation of Chemicals and Incompatibility        50

4.  Storage of Flammable and Combustible Materials        53

5.  Storage of Corrosive Materials        54

6.  Storage of Unstable Chemicals        56

7.  Storage of Poisonous Substances        56

8.  Storage of Compressed Gases        56

G.  Handling of Hazardous Materials        57

1.  Handling Corrosive Materials        57

a.  Corrosive Liquids        57

b.  Corrosive Gases and Vapors        57

c.  Corrosive Solids        57

2.  Handling Ignitable and Explosive Materials        58

a.  Flammable and Combustible Liquids        58

b.  Fire Extinguishers        59

c.  Flammable Aerosols        61

d.  Flammable and Combustible Solids        61

e.  Flammable Oxidizers        61

f.  Catalyst Ignition        62

g.  Explosion Hazards        62

3.  Handling Poisonous Substances        64

H.  Hazardous Material Waste Disposal and Removal        65

1.  General Considerations        65

2.  Choosing and Labeling a Hazardous Waste Container        66

3.  Waste Containment Protocols        67

4.  Categorizing and Separating Hazardous Material Waste        68

a.  Liquid Chemical Waste        68

b.  Solid Chemical Waste        69

c.  Special Chemical Waste        69

d.  Biological Hazardous Waste        70

e.  Broken Glass        71

f.   Mercury Spills from Broken Thermometers        71

g.  Sharps        71

h.  Silica Gel        71

i.   Molecular Sieves and Desiccant Disposal        72

j.   Used Oil Disposal        72

k.  Empty Gas Lecture Bottles        72

l. Unidentified Hazardous Waste        73

5.  Disposal of Empty Chemical Containers        73

6.  Contracting the Removal of Stored Hazardous Material Waste        74

I.  Environment Monitoring and Surveillance        75

J.  Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)        75

   1.  Lab Coats        75

   2.  Eye Protection        76

3.  Gloves        77

   4.  Footwear        78

5.  Clothing        78

K.  Exposure Assessment and Monitoring        78

L.  Medical Consultations and Examination        79

M.  Medical Records        79

N. Spills and Accidents        80

1.  Preventing Spills        80

2.  Chemical Spills        80

3.  Developing a Spill Response Plan        82

4.  Recommended Spill Control Material Inventory        83

O.  Emergency Response        85

1.  General Emergencies        85

2.  Fire Emergencies        85

3.  Medical Emergencies        87

4.  Leaking Compressed Gas        87

P.  Accident Reports        88

Q.  Training Requirements and Information        88


A.  Biosafety Introduction        90

B.  Administration of Biological Safety        91

C.  Biosafety Definitions        92

D.  Biosafety Training        94

E.  Biohazardous Materials        95

F.  Safety Equipment: Primary Barriers        97

G.  Routes, Infection, and Exposures        98

H.  Classifications of Biological Risks        99

I.  Standard Biosafety Practices        104

J.  Recombinant DNA (rDNA)        116

K. General Biological Laboratory Practices        119

L.  Disposal Procedures        127

M. Spills of Biohazardous Materials Procedures        128


A.  Electrically-Powered Laboratory Apparatuses        130

B.  Low Temperature Procedures        135

C.  High Temperature Procedures        137

D.  Pressurized and Vacuum Operations        142

1.  Compressed Gases        142

a.  General Considerations        142

b.  Handling Precautions        143

c.  Storage of Compressed Gas Cylinders        143

d.  Using Compressed Gas Cylinders        144

e.  Assembly of Equipment and Piping        144

f.   Leaking Cylinders        145

g.  Empty Cylinders        145

h.  Flammable Gases        145

i.   Highly Toxic Gases        147

2.  High Pressure Air Compressor        147

3.  Vacuum Apparatus        148

a.  Vacuum Pumps        148

b.  Vacuum Trapping        149

c.  Cold Traps        150

d.  Glass Vessels        150

e.  Dewar Flasks        150

4.  Rotovaps        151




A.  Plan Definitions


This document constitutes the Chemical Hygiene Plan (CHP) required by the United States Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) of 1970 and regulations of the United States Department of Labor including 29 CFR 1910.1450.  This set of regulations, entitled Occupational Exposure to Hazardous Chemicals in the Laboratories is often referred to as the "Laboratory Safety Standard."  The purpose of the CHP is to describe the proper use and handling practices and procedures to be followed by employees, students, visitors, and other personnel working in each laboratory of Roosevelt University.  Such practices are necessary to protect all people working throughout the science laboratories from potential health and physical hazards presented by chemicals used in the workplace, and to keep chemical exposures below specified limits.


Roosevelt University’s Environment, Health, and Safety (EHS) committee established this Chemical Hygiene Plan to be implemented and sustained at both of its campuses.  Roosevelt University's CHP describes work practices to promote safety in the laboratory.  However, each individual has the first responsibility for ensuring that good health and safety practices are implemented in the laboratory.  While such individual responsibility promotes personal well-being and the safety of others, it also upholds Roosevelt University's commitment to the advancement of scientific research, human safety, and environmental health.


Policy and Scope

It is the policy of Roosevelt University and the Environment, Health and Safety Committee (EHS) to provide a safe and healthy workplace in compliance with OSHA regulations included in Occupational Exposure to Hazardous Chemicals in the Laboratories.  Roosevelt University's Chemical Hygiene Plan (CHP) applies to all laboratories on both the Chicago and Schaumburg campuses.  The CHP may be obtained from room 551 of the Schaumburg campus and room 554 of the Chicago campus.  By the end of Fall semester 2010, the RU CHP may be accessed online at the RU web page  


B.  Plan Organization


Part I: Chemical Hygiene Plan Introduction contains the basic information needed by all people working throughout the RU laboratories who will be handling chemicals.  The "Purpose" section explains all of the terminology used throughout this CHP.  The "Policy and Scope" section will direct all people working in the laboratories to the relevant information they should have before beginning laboratory work.


Part II: RU Environment, Health and Safety Committee Roles & Responsibilities contains information about the current members of EHS at Roosevelt University.  The roles and duties of all EHS members are described.  Responsibilities for all staff, students, and visitors working with chemicals are outlined.  Phone and address information is given for each member for contact in the case of emergency.


Part III: The Laboratory Facility contains information about the layout of Roosevelt University laboratories, furniture and fixtures, emergency equipment, and ventilation.  Information about conducting exposure assessment, fume hood monitoring, and other facility inspections are described here.


Part IV: Chemical Hygiene Plan describes the minimum required precautions and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for working with laboratory chemicals as enforced through the RU EHS.  Chemical hazards and risk assessment information can be gathered here.  Safe chemical management procedures used to label, store, dispose of, and ship chemicals are included is this section.  Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) requirements employed throughout RU laboratories are described. Contact information for all records regarding legislative compliance and training records is found here.


Part V: Biosafety Guidelines describes the minimum required precautions and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for working in biology laboratories as enforced through the RU EHS.  Biological hazards and risk assessment information can be gathered here.  Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) requirements employed throughout RU biology laboratories are described.

Part VI: Additional Safety Recommendations contains precautions regarding equipment and instrumentation found throughout Roosevelt University laboratories.  Procedures for dealing with low and high temperatures, vacuum, and corrosive agents are described here.

Part VII: Material Safety Data Sheets contains information regarding the location of material safety data sheets throughout Roosevelt University laboratories.



This section of the Chemical Hygiene Program clearly articulates and describes the roles and responsibilities of all EHS members as well as all non-EHS members who work throughout RU laboratories.  Defining such roles within this section establishes accountability, expedites safety processes, enhances laboratory safety, and answers questions about the implementation of Roosevelt University's Chemical Hygiene Plan.


A.  Department Chair

The Chair of the Department of BCPS has the following roles:

  1. Ensure the CHP is written and updated once per year, or as often as necessary.
  2. Appoint the Chemical Hygiene Officers (CHO).  The selected CHO’s must be qualified by training or experience such that he or she is able to provide technical guidance in the development and implementation of the CHP.  This individual should have authority necessary to implement the CHP.
  3. Obtain administrative and financial support, as needed, for implementing and maintaining the CHP.
  4. Lead the annual EHS committee meeting, or call the EHS committee into meeting as often as needed.


B.  Chemical Hygiene Officers (CHO)

The Chemical Hygiene Officers have the following roles:

  1. Determine the requirements of the OSHA standard regulations entitled Occupational Exposure to Hazardous Chemicals in the Laboratories (29 CFR 1910.1450) and apply them to Roosevelt University's Chemical Hygiene Plan.
  2. Oversee the implementation of the Chemical Hygiene Plan (CHP) throughout all science laboratories at RU.
  3. Ensure that the CHP is made available to all individuals who work in the science laboratories.
  4. Seek ways to improve the CHP.
  5. Perform regular inspections throughout the science laboratories.
  6. Audit abnormal laboratory activities and submit reports of such findings to the Environment, Health & Safety Committee (EHS).
  7. Participate with investigations of serious accidents involving hazardous chemicals, acting as a liaison with the  EHS.
  8. Assist new faculty with implementation of the CHP within their teaching laboratories.
  9. Assist Laboratory Managers with obtaining services, supplies, or equipment needed to correct any chemical hygiene issues.
  10. Assist faculty in reviewing proposed experiments for significant environmental, health, and safety issues.
  11. Attend the annual EHS committee meeting, or any EHS meetings that occur as needed.


C.  Environment, Health & Safety Coordinator

The EHS Coordinator has the following roles:

  1. Provide assistance to the Chemical Hygiene Officers (CHO) with developing, implementing, and enhancing the Chemical Hygiene Plan (CHP).
  2. Be familiar with the CHP.
  3. Plan routine inspections in the laboratory areas to be conducted by the CHO and follow up with the CHO about these inspections.
  4. Participate in biannual inspections.
  5. Ensure that proper training of chemical handling is performed, and that such training is documented.
  6. Ensure documents of local training and inspection records are collected and maintained.
  7. Review and update the CHP annually, or as directed by Environment, Health & Safety Committee.

D.  Environment, Health & Safety Committee

The Roosevelt University Environment, Health, and Safety committee has the following roles:

  1. Oversee the annual update of the Chemical Hygiene Plan.
  2. Provide General Chemical Hygiene and Waste Management training for classrooms, staff, and website.
  3. Ensure that all training documents and inspection records are maintained systematically.
  4. Conduct an annual meeting of the committee with all members to discuss necessary policy changes, or when needed.
  5. Participate with inspection of laboratory operations at least once per year.
  6. Provide guidance regarding selection and use of personal protective equipment.  When respirators are required, provide training to ensure proper use of the respirators.
  7. Assist with investigations of chemical exposure incidents or serious accidents requiring medical assessment.

E.  Laboratory Managers

The Laboratory Managers have the following roles:

  1. Ensure that Roosevelt University complies with TSCA requirements outlined in the EPA Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976.
  2. Be familiar with the Chemical Hygiene Plan (CHP) and contact the Chemical Hygiene Officer (CHO) for assistance with implementation of this CHP.
  3. Ensure measures are established for safe use, storage, and disposal of all chemicals within the laboratory.
  4. Prepare Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for experimental use of hazardous chemicals, when needed.
  5. Provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) needed for safe handling of chemicals.
  6. Provide proper containers, waste containment, and cabinetry for safe storage of materials.
  7. Define the location where particularly hazardous substances will be used and the processes for their use.  Label these areas and maintain a list of these hazardous substances.
  8. Minimize the amount of hazardous chemicals purchased and used experimentally.
  9. Plan for accidents and ensure that the necessary supplies are in place.  Maintain updated emergency procedures for responding to an accident, including cleanup of chemicals spills.
  10. Ensure that all employees working in the laboratories have received the required training for work with chemicals.  Document and maintain records of training.
  11. Monitor the safety performance of the staff.
  12. Arrange for calibration and inspection of fume hoods.
  13. Ensure laboratory inspections are conducted routinely, and take action to correct any problems identified during these inspections.
  14. Ensure employees who suspect they may have received an excessive exposure to a hazardous chemical through ingestion or inhalation report to the nearest medical center for assessment.  
  15. Report to the Environment, Health & Safety Committee (EHS) and the CHO all accidents involving exposure of any individual(s) to a hazardous chemical or any chemical spill that could result in environmental contamination.
  16. Investigate all chemical accidents and take corrective action to prevent further accidents.  Contact the CHO for assistance and evaluation in such matters.
  17. Ensure all chemical wastes are properly disposed of according to RU, state, and federal procedures.
  18. Assist the EHS and the CHO as needed.
  19. Act as a liaison to the Physical Plant and the Building Engineers to address concerns regarding safe laboratory space.

F.  Faculty, Staff, and Students

Faculty, staff, and students working in the laboratories shall:

  1. Read and understand the general safety rules followed in laboratories and implemented with this Chemical Hygiene Plan.
  2. Understand the hazards of the chemicals they will come in contact with, and know the signs and symptoms of excessive exposure.
  3. Understand and follow all Standard Operating Procedures and received training.
  4. Understand the proper use of Personal Protective Equipment and wear all mandated PPE.
  5. Report to the Laboratory Manager and the faculty instructor any laboratory problems that might lead to an accident.  All accidents resulting in exposure to hazardous chemicals should be reported to the Laboratory Manager and the faculty instructor.
  6. If an emergency occurs in the laboratory, provide all information to the emergency response personnel, Roosevelt University Security, and any other investigators.

G.  Visitors, Minors, and Tour Participants

Visitors, Minors, and Tour participants working in or moving through the laboratories shall:

  1. Sign a release form prior to work in the laboratory.
  2. Pay attention to any laboratory rules as instructed to them by laboratory personnel.
  3. Understand the proper use of Personal Protective Equipment and wear all mandated PPE.
  4. Report to the Laboratory Manager any laboratory problems that might lead to an accident.  All accidents resulting in exposure to hazardous chemicals should be reported to the Laboratory Manager.
  5. If an emergency occurs in the laboratory, provide as much information as possible to the emergency response personnel, Roosevelt University Security, and any other investigators.


H.  Environment, Health & Safety Emergency Contact Information

Department of Biological, Chemical and Physical Sciences Laboratory Addresses


Chicago Campus

430 S. Michigan Ave

Chicago, IL 60605-1394

Rooms 548, 546, 542, 540, 534, 513, 511, 506, 503 (Biology)

Rooms 603/609, 611/615, 613 (Chemistry)

Schaumburg Campus

1400 N. Roosevelt Blvd

Schaumburg, IL 60173-4348

Rooms 505, 507, 550, 551, 552, 554, 557, 558

Environment, Health & Safety (EHS) Contacts

BCPS Department Chair

Cornelius Watson

Room AUD 520

Chicago Office Phone: 312-341-3678

Schaumburg Office Phone: 847-619-8580

Phone (cell): 773-368-2233

EHS Coordinator and BCPS Assistant Chair

Joshua Telser

Room AUD 604B

Chicago Office Phone: 312-341-3687

Schaumburg Office Phone: 847-619-8586

Cell Phone: 773-573-2611


Chemical Hygiene Officers

Kristen Leckrone (Chicago Campus)

Room AUD 604A

Chicago Office Phone: 312-341-3514

Schaumburg Office Phone: 847-619-8970

Phone (cell): 773-793-9214


Tasneem Islam (Schaumburg Campus)

Room SCH 600-O

Schaumburg Office Phone: 847-619-8583

Chicago Office Phone: 312-341-3688

Cell Phone: 847-773-5434


Laboratory Managers

John Damascus (Schaumburg campus)

Room SCH 551

Schaumburg Office Phone: 847-619-8582

Cell Phone: 847-873-9324

Eric Bremer (Interim Laboratory Manager, Chicago campus)

Room AUD 554

Chicago Office Phone: 312-341-3681

Cell Phone: 708-267-2052

Biology Safety Liaisons

Vicky McKinley (Chicago campus)

Room: AUD 509A; SCH 600D

Chicago Office Phone: 312-341-3682

Schaumburg Office Phone: 847-619-8559

Cell Phone: 847-894-7104

Robert Seiser (Schaumburg campus)

Room: SCH 600B; AUD 403B

Chicago Office Phone: 312-341-7134

Schaumburg Office Phone: 847-619-8758

Cell Phone: 847-977-3454


A.  Laboratory Layout

  1. Laboratory space should be physically separate from personal desk space, meeting space and eating areas. Workers should not have to go through a laboratory space where hazardous materials are used in order to exit from non-laboratory areas.
  2. Entryways should have provisions for mounting emergency information posters and other warning signage immediately outside the laboratory above the door.
  3. Laboratory areas with autoclaves should have adequate room to allow access to the autoclave and clearance behind it for maintenance.  There should also be adequate room for temporary storage of materials before and after processing.  Autoclave drainage should be designed to prevent or minimize flooding and damage to the floor.
  4. Table of Laboratory Layout Considerations: 

Chemical and Biological Material Use

Material Use



All laboratories are floored with non-porous tiles

Some chemicals are stored in ventilated cabinets

Solid, sturdy shelving is found throughout the laboratories for non-chemical storage and storage of aqueous buffer and dye solutions that do not need to be stored in special cabinets

Laboratories have areas for chemical waste storage

Laboratories have plumbed, conspicuously labeled eyewash and safety shower within 100 feet or 10 second traveling distance

All cabinets meet OSHA and NFPA Code 30 Specifications

Flammable Liquids

More than 10 gallons in a lab needs flammable liquid storage cabinet

Fire extinguishers are mounted near the entrances of all laboratories and conspicuously labeled.

Acids/Corrosives and Oxidizers

All cabinets housing such chemicals are constructed from wood or polymer and have no metal components

Cabinets housing such chemicals are as close to the floor as possible and the chemicals stored on low shelves


Highly poisonous compounds are stored in cabinets with sturdy, continuous piano hinges and extra-thick walls to prevent air circulation which could circulate poisonous vapors

Perchloric Acid

A stainless steel hood is used for such acids

Biological Agents

Handwashing sinks and antibacterial soap are available in all biology laboratories

All laboratories have space for biohazardous waste storage

Equipment Type

Equipment Type



Prep areas have adequate space for autoclave use, maintenance and sterilized/unsterilized materials storage 

Autoclaves have adequate drainage to minimize flooding

Fume Hood

Hoods are located to minimize cross-drafts and turbulence

Hoods have face velocity of 100-125 linear feet per minute 

Hoods have a continuous monitoring device

Hoods have no fire dampers in exhaust ducts

Hoods have a debris screen

Hoods have a single vertical sash

Cryogenic Liquid Tanks

Controls are secured or located to prevent accidental opening

Cryogenic liquids are not below grade and tanks are not near glass doors or windows


High-power lasers are kept near ground-fault circuit interrupters and water-cooling systems

Researchers working with high-power lasers should consider the use of a chilled water loop

Carbon dioxide fire extinguishers, rather than dry chemical extinguishers, are on hand in case of laser fires

Laboratories housing lasers are equipped with emergency cut-off switches at the entrance

Vacuum lines

Local pumps are preferred over central vacuum systems

Vacuum lines are equipped with cold traps or filters to prevent contamination

B.  Furniture and Fixtures

  1. Work surfaces should be chemical resistant, smooth, and readily cleanable, such as chemical-grade Formica.
  2. Handwashing sinks for particularly hazardous chemicals or biological agents should remain uncluttered and clean.  Proper tubs and cleaning agents should be readily available for glassware cleaning.
  3. Wet chemical laboratories should have solvent-resistant flooring rather than tile, particularly in areas where fume hoods are located.

C.  Signs and Labels

The main entrance to each laboratory in which chemical, biological or radiological materials are used or stored must be posted with the following:

  1. Names and phone numbers of the laboratory managers and other responsible parties to be contacted in the event of a fire, accident or spill.
  2. Special hazards that may be encountered in the laboratory (e.g. laser in use, cylinders, biohazardous material, etc.)
  3. Safety instructions for persons entering the laboratory such as: required protective equipment, access restrictions, etc.
  4. Prohibitions (e.g., No Food or Drink Allowed)

The interior of the laboratory must be posted with the following:

  1. Emergency Action Plans near the exit.
  2. Hazardous Waste Accumulation Area sign marking location where unwanted laboratory materials will be accumulated for collection by waste management contractor
  3. Signs identifying location of safety equipment (e.g., fire extinguisher, safety shower, eyewash fountain, etc.).
  4. Signs, labels and/or warning/caution tape identifying designated use and storage areas for materials or equipment requiring special procedures.

All chemical or biological material containers in the laboratory must be labeled in order to ensure hazard information is readily available to employees, visitors, and emergency response personnel. Containers must be labeled with:

  1. Proper chemical or common name of contents in English. Chemical formulas, symbols or acronyms are not acceptable. Mixtures or solutions must include a list of constituents and their concentrations.
  2. Signal words (e.g., danger, warning, caution, etc.) and/or associated hazard(s), (e.g., eye irritant, corrosive, biohazardous, etc.)

Appropriate warning signs and/or labels shall be affixed to equipment or means of egress where the potential of a significant injury exists if certain procedures are not followed.

  1. If warning signs and/or labels are needed, they shall be conspicuously posted. 
  2. Warning signs and/or labels shall be easily read and of contrasting colors.

D.  Emergency Equipment

  1. Fire Extinguishers


Fire extinguishers are located at the front of each lab on the wall next to the eye wash station.  It is important that fire extinguishers are never concealed from general view or blocked by any object.  

You should only attempt to put out a fire yourself if the fire is small and is not spreading.  If you have any doubt, you or the instructor should activate the alarm, call 911, and assist your students in evacuating the building.  

2.   Eyewash Stations

If an individual receives a chemical splash to their eyes, he or she should be immediately brought over to the eyewash.  Turn on the eyewash and flood the eyes, directing the water from the corner of the eye to the outside, for at least 15 minutes to make sure that there is no residue of the corrosive substance.  Afterwards, make the necessary arrangements for further medical care; it is always better to be safe than sorry, as serious damage may have already taken place or the damage may not be immediately apparent.  

3.   Safety Showers

All lab assistants should be familiar with the location and use of the safety showers.   Safety showers are designed to flood the entire body in the event of a clothing fire or a major spill of a chemical.  If this happens, bring the student over to the shower and turn on the shower while they are under it.  Flood the affected area for a minimum of 15 minutes - even if the individual becomes cold or indicates that they feel fine.  In the case of a corrosive liquid spill, or when in doubt, the individual should remove the affected portion of clothing while under the shower to reduce potential contact.  

Please remind your students during your safety discussion that every precaution will be taken to preserve their privacy (such as having the rest of the class move away from the shower and by holding up the fire blanket like a curtain), but that their health and safety are the first priority.   It is better to be embarrassed for a single moment than have a lifetime of health problems or scars.  Report any safety shower usage as soon as possible to the instructor and lab manager so that the proper accident reports can be filed.

4.   Fire Blankets

Fire blankets, which are located at the front of each lab, are only appropriate to smother clothing that is on fire.   In this event, you should bring the blanket to the individual; having them come to the blanket only feeds the fire and will make it worse.  They should lay down on the blanket, then roll the blanket around them, using your hands to smother the fire.  

E.  Ventilation

  1. Fume Hood

Fume hoods are located throughout biology and chemistry labs on both Chicago and Schaumburg campuses.  Each campus is also equipped with a NuAire Tissue Culture Hood.  A list of these hoods on both campuses is shown below:

Chicago Fume Hoods

Room number

Number of hoods

AUD 503


AUD 506


AUD 542


AUD 609


AUD 611


AUD 613


AUD 628A


Total hoods


Schaumburg Fume Hoods

Room number

Number of hoods

AUD 507


AUD 550


AUD 552


AUD 558


Total hoods


NuAire Tissue Culture Hoods

Room number

Number of hoods

SCH 507A


AUD 548


Fume hood exhaust systems must receive periodic preventive maintenance to minimize equipment failure and emergency shutdowns.  Fume hood exhaust fans must be turned off to perform this periodic maintenance.  Turning off fume hood exhaust systems presents a potential chemical exposure hazard for both lab occupants and any maintenance personnel who might be on the roof.

Fume hoods are one means of working safely with volatile hazardous or odorous chemicals such as gases, vapors, dusts, mists, and fumes.  Fume hoods function in the following manner:

  1. The exhaust air creates a capture velocity at the face of the fume hood that prevents hazardous or odorous chemicals from escaping into the lab.
  2. Airflow through the exhaust system dilutes hazardous or odorous chemicals.
  3. The exhaust discharge stack on the roof disperses and further dilutes hazardous or odorous chemicals into the atmosphere.

Extra care must be taken throughout the laboratories during times when fume hood exhaust systems are not operational.  When fume hood exhaust systems are turned off, laboratory and maintenance personnel should be aware of the following conditions:

  1. The fume hood capture velocity is not sufficient to contain volatile hazardous or odorous chemicals.  Laboratory personnel can be exposed to the chemicals if in use.
  2. The positive pressure of the building (caused by the building's operational air supply) pushes volatile hazardous chemicals out the roof stacks at low velocity. Thus, dilution of hazardous chemicals in the exhaust is significantly lessened and there are higher hazardous chemical concentrations in the exhaust.
  3. In addition, lower velocity exhaust stack discharge means less dilution in the atmosphere and higher hazardous chemical concentrations at the roof where maintenance personnel may be working.

F.  Housekeeping, Maintenance, and Inspection

  1. Housekeeping

Laboratory personnel are responsible for cleaning laboratory benches, equipment and any area that may require specialized technical knowledge. Additional housekeeping concerns include:

  1. Access to emergency equipment, safety showers, eyewash fountains and exits must never be blocked.
  2. All aisles, hallways, and stairs (egress paths) must be kept clear of obstruction and chemical storage, as required by fire codes enforced by the State Fire Marshall’s Office.
  3. Attention must be paid to electrical safety, especially as it relates to the use of extension cords, proper grounding of equipment, overloading of electrical circuits and electrical hazards related to wet work.
  4. Original labels on containers must be protected so that the identity of the contents and the hazards are known.
  5. Containers into which chemicals have been transferred from an original container must be labeled according to Section IV of this CHP.
  6. All chemicals must be replaced in their assigned storage area prior to leaving the area at the end of each workday/schedule.
  7. All working areas and floors must be cleaned regularly, kept dry and free of tripping hazards.
  8. DO NOT use laboratory floors and bench tops for storage of equipment and materials.
  9. Secure all gas cylinders properly.
  10. Never use fume hoods for storage of chemicals or other materials.
  11. Maintain laboratories free of excess, unused and old chemicals.
  1. Maintenance

Maintaining laboratory facilities in a safe and operable condition requires all laboratory personnel to become and remain proactive rather than reactive. Most equipment and devices used in teaching and research facilities are required, by the manufacturer, to be serviced, calibrated or cleaned at specified intervals. Failure to follow these guidelines invariably results in failure of the equipment and “emergency situations”. The Physical Resources Department is responsible for completion of work orders for repairs and correction of facilities maintenance concerns arising in laboratories, however you must initiate the process by reporting unsafe conditions.

  1. Laboratory Inspections

Laboratory safety inspections are conducted by EHS and the Physical Resources Department to help assure a safe environment is maintained for employees and students. Each laboratory is inspected at least annually.

Inspection Checklist

Inspection items include: general housekeeping, proper ventilation, compressed gases storage, Right-to-Know compliance procedures, hazardous waste management practices, chemical storage, proper use of signage, access to means of egress, electrical safety. Safety violations found during routine inspections are recorded on the Laboratory Safety Inspection Checklist and reported to the Laboratory Manager for corrective action.

All equipment used in the laboratory must function properly and safely. To ensure this, laboratories must maintain equipment according to manufacturer’s specifications or established guidelines. Perform routine inspections for common problems like: damaged electrical cords, corrosion, worn parts, excessive contamination, leaks, etc. In addition, ensure that alarms, guards, interlocks or other safety devices have not been disconnected or defeated.

The following equipment will be inspected annually by Physical Resources. An inspection tag/card/sticker should be attached to the equipment with a record of inspection dates.

When no longer needed, working and non-working laboratory equipment must be free of contamination and inspected by EHS.

G.  Maintenance and Validation of Safety Equipment

If the fume hood, fume hood alarm, emergency eyewash, safety shower, and fire extinguisher in the laboratory area have not been inspected in accordance with the above-mentioned schedule, call the laboratory manager to submit a work order.

1.  Fume Hood Monitoring


Fume hoods must be inspected and tested by Physical Resources at least annually.  This inspection and testing shall include calibration and maintenance of fume hood alarms, if present.  Fume hood exhaust systems also receive quarterly preventive maintenance to minimize equipment failure and emergency shutdowns.  Fume hood exhaust fans are turned off to perform this periodic maintenance activity.  Turning off fume hood exhaust systems presents a potential chemical exposure hazard for both lab occupants and any maintenance personnel who might be on the roof.

Physical Resources personnel must notify laboratory personnel about preventive maintenance shutdowns of fume hood exhaust systems.  Laboratory personnel must not use fume hoods during fume hood shutdowns.  The procedures that should be followed during the shutdowns of fume hood exhaust systems are as follows:

  1. Establish Maintenance Schedule

Physical Resources management must establish an agreed upon annual routine maintenance schedule with the laboratory managers.  This will provide a consistent date for subsequent years so that Physical Resources management can schedule work in advance and laboratory managers can plan all lab activity around the schedule.

  1. Notification of Upcoming Work

Physical Resources must provide a written notification of planned work on the fume hood exhaust systems to all relevant personnel.  This includes the laboratory managers as well as any maintenance personnel with work scheduled on the roof.  This notification should occur prior to the scheduled maintenance.  The notification should provide adequate time to allow laboratory managers to reschedule any planned activities that require fume hood use.
  Following notification, the laboratory managers should conduct the following steps:

  1. Maintenance

On the day of the work, Physical Resources personnel must placard the fume hoods with red out-of-service signs indicating “DANGER – Fume Hoods Shutdown, Do Not Use.”  The placards should include the time and date of the scheduled shutdown. Some hoods will also have the sashes locked down.  Physical Resources personnel will verify that all chemicals are either capped or removed and that the hoods are not in use. Maintenance will not proceed unless this is the case.  Physical Resources personnel must ensure that all necessary items needed for maintenance are available and on hand before beginning work on the fume hoods, which will minimize fume hood down time.

  1. Notification of Completion

Physical Resources personnel must notify the laboratory managers when work is complete and the exhaust systems are operating normally.  The red placards may be removed and locked sashes may be unlocked.  Lab occupants must not use the hoods until cleared by the laboratory manager.

Data on annual fume hood monitoring is kept by the Physical Resources.  Fume hood monitoring data are considered maintenance records, and as such the full data will be kept for one year and summary data for five years.

2.  Eyewash and Safety Shower Inspection and Testing

Emergency eyewashes and safety showers must be inspected and tested by laboratory personnel at the beginning of spring, summer, and fall semesters.  Laboratory supervisors are required to inspect and test these devices.   At the time of the inspection and testing, these devices shall receive a sticker or tag indicating the date last inspected and tested as well as the name of the inspector and tester.  Eyewash tags for sink-mounted eyewashes are available from the Laboratory Manager.  Any device that does not pass inspection and testing shall receive a sticker or tag indicating that it is not functioning properly and must not be used until it has been repaired or modified. Activities requiring such devices shall cease until these repairs or modifications occur.

3.  Fire Extinguisher Inspection

Fire extinguishers must be inspected and tested by the city fire marshal annually.  At the time of the inspection and testing, these devices shall receive a sticker or tag indicating when last inspected and tested and by whom.

Any device that does not pass inspection and testing shall receive a sticker or tag indicating that it is not functioning properly and must not be used until it has been repaired or replaced.  Activities requiring such devices shall cease until these repairs or modifications occur.

4.  Other Safety Equipment

Supervisors or their appointed designees must ensure that safety equipment other than that mentioned above is inspected and maintained by the user at a frequency which is recommended by the manufacturer and/or a frequency which will ensure their proper and safe functioning.

5.   Inspection Reports


Once per semester a local fire marshal inspects the laboratories for infractions of Chicago or Schaumburg fire codes.  The university is fined for any violations of fire code.  The documents of these inspections are maintained by the Roosevelt University Department of Campus Safety and Transportation.



A.  Laboratory Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)

1.  Pre-Laboratory Considerations

Every laboratory worker should adequately prepare him- or herself for work in the Roosevelt University Laboratories.  Before conducting any experimental work, consider the following:

2.  Personal Behavior

Professional standards of personal behavior are required in all Roosevelt University laboratories:

3.  Transporting Chemicals

Spills and chemical exposure can occur if chemicals are transported incorrectly.  Accidents may occur even when moving chemicals from one part of the laboratory to another. To avoid such type of accidents, consider the following:

4.  Safety Procedures for Conducting Chemical Reactions

a.  Working Alone

The laboratory supervisor or PI is responsible for determining whether the work requires special precautions, such as having two people in the same room for particular experiments.  

Individuals conducting chemical reactions should not work alone.  Hazardous chemicals should not be handled alone by any laboratory worker.  Another individual capable of coming to the aid of the worker should be within visual or audio contact.

b.  Working with Scaled-Up Reactions

Scale-up of reactions from those producing a few milligrams or grams to those producing more than 100g of a product may represent several orders of magnitude of added risk. The attitudes, procedures and controls applicable to large-scale laboratory reactions are fundamentally the same as those for smaller-scale procedures. However, differences in heat transfer, stirring effects, times for dissolution, and effects of concentration and the fact that substantial amounts of materials are being used introduce the need for special vigilance for scaled-up work. Careful planning and consultation with experienced workers to prepare for any eventuality are essential for large-scale laboratory work.

Although it is not always possible to predict whether a scaled-up reaction has increased risk, hazards should be evaluated if the following conditions exist:

In addition, thermal phenomena that produce significant effects on a larger scale may not have been detected in smaller-scale reactions and therefore could be less obvious than toxic and/or environmental hazards. Thermal analytical techniques should be used to determine whether any process modifications are necessary.

c.  Unattended Experiments

Laboratory operations involving hazardous substances are sometimes carried out continuously or overnight with no one present. It is the responsibility of the worker to design these experiments so as to prevent the release of hazardous substances in the event of interruptions in utility services such as electricity, cooling water, and inert gas.

When leaving an experiment unattended for any period of time, follow these general rules:

B.  Identifying Hazardous Materials

Roosevelt stocks over two thousand chemicals that are stored in various locations throughout the laboratories.  Most bottles are clearly marked with hazard symbols and other special handling instructions.  If you find a bottle that is not clearly marked, you may refer to a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS).  Other things, such as broken glassware or thermometers, may pose danger to anyone working throughout the laboratories.

1.  Federal Regulations of Communications about Hazardous Materials

The US Department of Labor established the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970.  This marked the establishment of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which by the early 1980’s implemented a Hazard Communication Standard (HCS).  This HCS, which became effective in 1986, states that employers must provide information about all hazardous materials to which employees might be exposed.  The premise is that all employees who may be exposed to hazardous materials in the workplace have a right to know about the dangers of all materials and how to protect themselves.  This HCS is part of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), which is a collection of permanent rules published in the Federal Register by the executive departments and agencies of the United States Federal Government.  Specifically, the HCS of 1986 is known as 29 CFR 1910.1200.  

29 CFR 1910.1200 sets forth guidelines and requirements for all university laboratories that are based on the following six areas:

Each of these six areas will be discussed in more detail starting on the next page.

a.  Chemical Labeling

29 CFR 1910.1200(f) requires that all chemicals in the workplace be labeled.  Before such regulations about chemicals can be implemented, there must be commonly accepted definitions of “dangerous goods” and “hazardous materials.”  There are a variety of ways in which the chemical labeling requirement may be fulfilled.  In the US two common models are the NFPA hazard diamond and the HMIG labeling system.  While there are important differences between these two models, they are both based on four categories regarding each chemical:

In section 704 of the National Fire Code, the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) specifies a system for identifying the hazards associated with materials which utilizes a color-coded array of four numbers or letters arranged in a diamond shape.  Such an example of this system is shown below:

The Hazardous Material Identification Guide (HMIG) is a labeling system developed and sold through Lab Safety Supply Inc.  This system uses three numbers in blue, red, and yellow bars, and a white bar on the bottom with a letter.  Such an example of this system is shown below:


These two models are discussed in more detail in the next section: C. Labeling of Hazardous Materials.

b.  Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS)

29 CFR 1910.1200 (f) requires that all information about chemicals in the workplace is readily available to all people working with these chemicals.  An MSDS is a document that gives detailed information about a material, including any hazards associated with the material.  Material Safety Data Sheets must be immediately available to employees at locations where hazardous materials are used and stored.

c.  Hazard Determination

29 CFR 1910.1200 (d) mandates that employers much identify and maintain a list of all hazardous chemicals stored and used in the workplace.

d.  Written Implementation Program

29 CFR 1910.1200 (e) requires that all employers develop a written plan detailing how the requirements of the Hazard Communication Standard are implemented by the employer.  Such a written plan is called a Chemical Hygiene Plan or Hazard Communication Program.

e.  Employee Training

29 CFR 1910.1200 (h) requires that all employers provide training which covers the handling of hazardous materials, use and interpretation of both MSDS and the chemical labeling system in place, and information about the federal Hazard Communication Standard.

f.  Trade Secrets

29 CFR 1910.1200 (i) sets forth the conditions under which the manufacturer of a chemical product may withhold information about a material.  It also describes conditions under which such information must be divulged to health care providers.

2.  Classification of Hazardous Materials

a.  Corrosive Materials

Many chemicals commonly used in the laboratory are corrosive or irritating to body tissue. They present a hazard to the eyes and skin by direct contact, the tissue under the skin, to the respiratory tract by inhalation, and to the gastrointestinal system by ingestion.  A corrosive substance is one that will destroy or irreversibly damage another surface or substance with which it comes into contact. The action of corrosive substances on living tissue is based on acid-base catalysis of ester and amide hydrolysis.  Corrosive agents may be in any physical state. 

Corrosive Liquids 

By definition, liquids and aqueous solutions which are corrosive:

Corrosive liquids such as mineral acids, alkali solutions, and some oxidizers represent a very significant hazard because skin or eye contact can readily occur from splashes.  Their effect on human tissue generally takes place very rapidly.  Bromine, sodium hydroxide, sulfuric acid and hydrogen peroxide are examples of highly corrosive liquids.

Corrosive Gases and Vapors

Corrosive gases and vapors are hazardous to all parts of the body; certain organs, such as the eyes and the respiratory tract, are particularly sensitive.  The magnitude of the effect is related to the solubility of the material in the body fluids.  Highly soluble gases such as ammonia and hydrogen chloride cause severe nose and throat irritation, while substances of lower solubility such as nitrogen dioxide, phosgene, and sulfur dioxide can penetrate deep into the lungs.

Corrosive Solids 

Corrosive solids, such as sodium hydroxide and phenol, can cause burns to the skin and eyes.  Dust from corrosive solids can be inhaled and cause irritation or burns to the respiratory tract.  Many corrosive solids, such as potassium hydroxide and sodium hydroxide, can produce considerable heat when dissolved in water.

Strong Acids and Bases

Both corrosive acids and corrosive bases are able to defat skin by catalyzing the hydrolysis of fats, which are chemically esters.  Proteins can also be hydrolyzed by acid-base catalysis.  Strong acids and bases are corrosive because they denature proteins and also become hydrated easily. Hydration removes water from the tissue and is significantly exothermic.  For example, concentrated sulfuric acid causes thermal burns in addition to chemical burns.

Strong Oxidizers

Strong oxidizers such as concentrated hydrogen peroxide can also be corrosive to tissues and other materials, even when the pH is close to neutral.  Nitric acid is an example of a strong acid that is also a strong oxidizer, making it significantly more corrosive than one would expect from its pKa alone.

b.  Fire Hazards

There are many types of solids, liquids, and gases that are ignitable, which means that they have the potential to catch fire and burn over time.  There are two general categories of compounds that are ignitable and will sustain fire once ignited: flammable materials and combustible materials.

Four ingredients must be present to sustain a fire:

The fuel may be any type of compound or material which can burn over a period of time, including certain metals and many hydrocarbons.  Many of the solvents used throughout laboratories act as fuels for fire.

The oxidizer that is needed to sustain fire may be something as simple as oxygen in the air.  Certain other chemicals such as ammonium nitrate, potassium permanganate, and potassium perchlorate can also serve as the oxidizer.

The ignition source might be a nearby fire or sparks generated by friction or from static electricity. The development of static electricity is related to the humidity levels in the area.  Cold, dry atmospheres are more likely to facilitate static electricity.

The chemical reaction is needed for the process of fire to continue as a chain reaction.  Combustion is the exothermic chemical reaction that feeds a fire more heat and allows it to continue.

Example: Consider a pool of gasoline spilled on the ground. The gasoline evaporates forming vapor above the gasoline pool.  The warmer the temperature, the faster the gasoline evaporates. The vapor given off forms an ignitable mixture with the air.  An ignition source is necessary for a fire to occur.  The process of combustion allows the chain reaction to continue and keep burning over time.

Flash Point

An important characteristic of a chemical which affects its ignitability is the flash point.  The flash point is the minimum temperature of a liquid at which sufficient vapor is given off to form an ignitable mixture with air and produce a flame when a source of ignition is present.  The flash point may also refer to a mixture of fuels in air, but does not apply to mixtures that have been enriched with oxygen or purged with an inert gas such as nitrogen.

Example: Heptane, a major component of gasoline, has a flash point of 25 oF (-4 oC) and a boiling point of 209 oF (98 oC). It is a liquid at ambient temperatures. At temperatures of 25oF and higher, enough vapors are given off from heptane that the vapors can ignite in air. If the temperature is less than 25 oF, not enough vapors are given off for heptane to ignite in air.  In order for the liquid to ignite, it would have to be heated up (for example, by heat from a nearby fire). It is the vapor given off of the evaporating liquid which burns, rather than the liquid itself. Incidentally, gasoline contains components besides heptane, some of which have much lower flash points than heptane (otherwise the fuel would not ignite in vehicles on a very cold day).

Gases and solids may also have flash points.  Although by definition a flash point is associated with liquids which give off vapors, one should remember that most compounds exist in the liquid state at some temperature.  A fuel which is a gas at room temperature might be a liquid at a very low temperature, and that liquid can have a flash point. Similarly, any solid melted into a liquid state may have a flash point. Some solids can also give off vapors which burn. Other chemicals may decompose when heated into vapors that can form an ignitable mixture with air.

Example: Butane is a colorless gas at room temperature with a boiling point of 31 oF. At temperatures below 31 oF, butane is a liquid but that liquid still has a vapor pressure. The flash point of butane is –76 oF.  Naphthalene, a solid at ambient temperatures, has a melting point and flash point of around 174 oF. Mercury thiocyanate is a solid which decomposes on heating and has a flash point of about 250 oF.

Flammable versus Combustible

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) provides different definitions of flammable liquids and combustible liquids in the context of fire prevention and suppression.  A flammable liquid has a flash point of 100 oF or less and a vapor pressure at or below 40 pounds per square inch at 100 oF; if the flashpoint is above 100 oF it is a combustible liquid.  Solids and gases can also burn.  The term “flammable gas” may apply to a chemical which is stored as a gas and has a flash point of less than 100 oF.  

The NFPA divides flammable and combustible liquids into classes based on flash point and boiling point, as shown in the table below:

Table 1:
 NFPA Classifications of Flammable and Combustible Liquids  



I A Flammable Liquid

Flash point 73 oF or less; boiling point 100 oF or less

I B Flammable Liquid

Flash point 73 oF or less; boiling point over 100 oF

I C Flammable Liquid

Flash point  over 73 oF; boiling point 100 oF or less

II Combustible Liquid

Flash point  between 100 oF and 140 oF

III A Combustible Liquid

Flash point  between 140 oF and 200 oF

III B Combustible Liquid

Flash point above 200 oF

The NFPA considers 73 oF (22.8 oC) to be the normal outdoor ambient temperature in all but the hottest climates.  Flammable liquids ignite more readily than combustible ones.  Flammable liquids also have the ability to vaporize and form flammable mixtures when exposed to air.  The I A Flammable Liquid is the most dangerous of all flammable and combustible liquids.

Flammable and Combustible Liquids

Flammable and combustible liquids vaporize and form flammable mixtures with air when in open containers, when leaks occur, or when heated. To control these potential hazards, several properties of these materials, such as volatility, flashpoint, flammability range, and autoignition temperatures must be understood.  Information on the properties of a specific liquid can be found in that liquid’s material safety data sheet (MSDS), or other reference material.

The following are common flammable and combustible liquids:

Flammable Gases and Aerosols

In defining flammable gases and aerosols, the flammability range is important.  Many examples of gases and aerosols which are flammable have mixed chemical composition.  Both gases and aerosols are typically contained while stored and transported, and a rupture of the container exposes them to air and may change their flammability range.  The flammability range describes the proportion of combustible gases in a mixture; within this range the mixture is flammable.  The lower flammability limit (LFL) is the lowest end of the concentration range of a flammable material at a given temperature and pressure for which gas-vapor mixtures can ignite; the upper flammability range (UFL) is the highest end of the concentration range which will sustain a flame.  Both LFL and UFL are typically expressed in volume percent.  

A flammable gas may be defined in one of two ways.  A gas may be considered as flammable if its LFL is less than 13% by volume in air.  Or it may be considered flammable if its UFL is more than 12% higher than its LFL (regardless of the value of the LFL).  One such example of a flammable gas is butane, which has a lower flammability limit of less than 13% by volume in air.  

An aerosol consists of a dispersion of microscopic liquid or solid particles in gas or air.  One property of such a dispersion is that it may be flammable even if the flash points of its individual components are too high to be classified as flammable liquids.  A flammable aerosol may be defined by the flame it produces when ignited.  A flammable aerosol will yield either a projecting of more than 18 inches at full valve opening, or a flame extending back to the valve at any valve opening.  All aerosols are mixtures.  Whether a particular aerosol is flammable depends upon the chemical composition.  Flammable liquids in pressurized containers may rupture and aerosolize when exposed to heat, creating a highly flammable vapor cloud.

Flammable and Combustible Solids

Flammable solids often encountered in the laboratory include alkali metals, magnesium metal, metallic hydrides, some organometallic compounds, and sulfur. Many flammable solids react with water and cannot be extinguished with conventional dry chemical or carbon dioxide extinguishers. Ensure that Class D extinguishers, such Met-L-X, are available where flammable solids are used or stored.


Some solids compounds are oxidizers that readily transfer oxygen atoms or gain electrons in oxidation-reduction reactions.  While many solid oxidizers are not themselves flammable, they may ignite due to the heat of reaction produced upon combination with reducing agents or other combustible materials.  The following compounds are common oxidizers that can cause extremely violent combustion:

Catalyst Ignition

Some solid hydrogenated catalysts, when recovered from hydrogenation reactions, may become saturated with hydrogen and present a fire or explosion hazard.  Examples of such catalysts which may become ignitable are palladium, platinum oxide, and Raney nickel.

c.  Explosion Hazards

Roosevelt laboratories also stock a variety of explosive chemicals, such as peroxides, strong oxidizers, hydrides, acetylides, azides, and diazonium compounds.  Some compounds can form peroxides if exposed to air for extended periods, such as ethers (including tetrahydrofuran and dioxane) and olefins.  Some compounds are explosive when they come in contact with water, such as lithium aluminum hydride and metallic sodium.  All of these chemicals should be handled by students and laboratory assistants under supervision.


Certain chemicals can form dangerous peroxides on exposure to air and light. Since they are sometimes packaged in an atmosphere of air, peroxides can form even though the containers have not been opened. Peroxides may detonate with extreme violence when concentrated by evaporation or distillation, when combined with other compounds, or when disturbed by unusual heat, shock or friction. Formation of peroxides in ethers is accelerated in opened and partially emptied containers. Refrigeration will not prevent peroxide formation and stabilizers will only retard formation.

Peroxide formation may be detected by visual inspection for crystalline solids or viscous liquids, or by using chemical methods or specialized kits for quantitative or qualitative analysis. If you suspect that peroxides have formed, do not open the container to test since peroxides deposited on the threads of the cap could detonate.

Examples of Peroxidizable Compounds

Peroxide Hazard on Storage: Discard After Three Months

Divinyl acetylene

Potassium metal

Divinyl ether

Sodium amide 

Isopropyl ether

Vinylidene chloride

Peroxide Hazard on Concentration: Discard After One Year




Ethylene glycol dimethyl ether (glyme)




Methyl acetylene




Methyl isobutyl ketone


Tetrahydronaphthalene (Tetralin)

Diethyl ether


Diethylene glycol dimethyl ether (diglyme)

Vinyl ethers

Hazardous Due to Peroxide Initiation of Polymerization*: Discard After One Year

Acrylic acid





Vinyl acetylene  


Vinyl acetate  


Vinyl chloride

Methyl methacrylate

Vinyl pyridine

*   Under storage conditions in the liquid state the peroxide-forming potential increases and certain of these monomers (especially butadiene, chloroprene, and tetrafluoroethylene) should be discarded after three months.


Some strong oxidizers such as potassium permanganate may explode when shocked, or if exposed to heat, flame, or friction.  These oxidants may also act as initiation sources for dust or vapor explosions.  Contact with oxidizable substances may cause extremely violent combustion.  Sealed containers may rupture when heated or exposed to mechanical impact.

Picric Acid

Picric acid in its dry form is explosive and can be ignited at almost all ambient temperatures.  Modern safety precautions recommend storing picric acid wet.  Dry picric acid is relatively sensitive to shock and friction, so laboratories that use it store it in bottles under a layer of water, rendering it safe.  Glass or plastic bottles are required, as picric acid can easily form metal picrate salts that are even more sensitive and hazardous than the acid itself.  Industrially, picric acid is especially hazardous because it is volatile and slowly sublimes even at room temperature.  The buildup of picrates on exposed metal surfaces over time can constitute a serious hazard.

d.  Toxic Substances and Poisons

Toxic chemicals can be fast-acting or slow-acting.  Keep in mind that highly reactive chemicals, such as acids and halogenated compounds, are harmful to humans.  The following substances are toxic even in low amounts: cyanides, cadmium compounds, heavy metals and their salts, various organometallic substances, and many organic substances.  

Poisons are very different from corrosives in that corrosives are immediately dangerous to the tissues they contact, whereas poisons may have systemic toxic effects that require time to become evident.  Mercury has poisonous effects that build up slowly over time, while cyanides are poisons that act very quickly to cause lethal oxygen starvation in mammalian cells.


Teratogens are chemicals that are known to cause fetal defects during pregnancy.  It is important that you have students inform you if they are pregnant at the beginning of the semester or become pregnant throughout the semester, because teratogens are handled in many Roosevelt laboratory courses.  When teratogens will be handled, pregnant students should not be present in the laboratory.  A dry experiment can be arranged for that student, which will avoid the use of chemicals.

Some common teratogens stocked in Roosevelt University laboratories:

e.  Broken Glass and Thermometers

Broken glass is a hazard that is commonly encountered in a laboratory.  Broken glass may have hazardous chemicals on it; in such a case, contact the laboratory manager or safety officer for help with cleanup if you are not sure how to clean it up.

Broken Mercury Thermometers

Broken mercury thermometers require special cleanup kits for mercury.  Students should never be asked to clean up a broken thermometer.  Mercury is a metal that is in liquid phase at room temperature.  In thermometers the mercury is the shiny, silver-colored liquid that is in the elemental form.  When a thermometer is broken, the mercury can spill out.  Because a small amount of mercury volatilizes at room temperature, mercury vapors can get into the air.  It is important to be aware that the nervous system is very sensitive to all forms of mercury. Breathing mercury vapors can harm the nervous system, the lungs, and the kidneys.  Mercury vapors pass easily from the lungs into the blood stream, although exposure to the mercury in an ordinary thermometer will not harm a person if it is cleaned up correctly.  

C.  Labeling of Hazardous Materials

An important provision of the US Hazard Communication Standard, 29 CFR 1910.1200(f), requires that all chemicals in the workplace be labeled.  Although in the US there are a variety of ways in which the chemical labeling requirement may be implemented, two of the most common models that are the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) hazard diamond and the Hazardous Material Identification Guide (HMIG) labeling system.  

NFPA hazard diamond          

HMIG labeling system

Roosevelt University stores chemicals that are labeled with both systems throughout its laboratories.  While there are important differences between these two models, they are both based on four color-coded categories regarding each chemical:

Both the NFPA hazard diamond and the HMIG labeling system use a number scale of 0-4 for the health hazard, flammability, and chemical reactivity categories.  A value of zero means that the material poses essentially no hazard; a rating of four indicates extreme danger.  The details of how numbers are assigned are essentially the same with both systems, and will be described in sections 1, 2 and 3 below.  

For the white category, the NFPA hazard diamond and the HMIG labeling system differ slightly and use different symbols or letters to denote the special handling precautions or required protective equipment.  The specifics of each system will be addressed in sections 4 and 5 below.  

The Number Scale for NFPA and HMIG Hazard Identification Systems

1.  Health Hazards (blue)

A discussion of health hazards and the terminology used to describe them is given in Appendix A of the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard (29 CFR 1910.1200 App A).


Material that on exposure under ordinary or fire conditions would offer no hazard

Example: peanut oil


Material that on exposure would cause irritation but only minor residual injury.

Example: turpentine


Material that on intense or continued but not chronic exposure could cause temporary incapacitation or possible residual injury.

Example: NH3 (g) (ammonia gas)


Material that on short exposure could cause serious temporary or residual injury.

Example: Cl2 (g) (chlorine gas)


Material that on very short exposure could cause death or major residual injury.

Example: HCN (g) (hydrogen cyanide gas)

2.  Flammability (red)

Note: Inflammable means the material will burn. Think of "inflammation" -- if you have an inflamed wound, it is red and hot to the touch. As recently as about 15 years ago, trucks and containers were marked "inflammable" if they contained material that could burn, while material that won't burn was called non-inflammable. The problem was that many people assumed inflammable meant that a material would not burn -- a potentially deadly mistake. Today, the word "flammable" has replaced "inflammable" almost entirely, but be aware that sometimes the older terminology may be found on laboratory items.


If the material will not burn under any conditions, the number in the red section is a 0.

Example: water


If the material must be pre-heated before ignition can occur, the number in the red section is a 1.

Example: corn oil


The material must be moderately heated or exposed to relatively high ambient temperature before ignition can occur.

Example: diesel fuel oil


Liquids and solids that can be ignited under almost all ambient temperature conditions.

Example: gasoline


Material that will rapidly or completely vaporize at atmospheric pressure and normal ambient temperatures, or that are readily dispersed in air and that will burn readily.

Example: propane gas

3.  Chemical Reactivity (yellow)

Much of this chemical reactivity pertains to the susceptibility of the material to burning.


Material that in itself is normally stable, even under fire exposure conditions, and is not reactive with water.

Example: liquid nitrogen


Material that in itself is normally stable, but which can become unstable at elevated temperatures and pressures.

Example: phosphorus (red or white)


Material that readily undergoes violent chemical change at elevated temperatures and pressures or which reacts violently with water or which may form explosive mixtures with water.

Example: calcium metal


Material that in itself is capable of detonation or explosive decomposition or reaction but requires a strong initiating source or which must be heated under confinement before initiation or which reacts explosively with water.

Example: F2 (g) (fluorine gas)


Material that in itself is readily capable of detonation or of explosive decomposition or reaction at normal temperatures and pressures.

Example: trinitrotoluene (TNT)

4.  NFPA Hazard Diamond

An important distinction between the HMIG hazard diamond and the HMIG labeling system is that the numbers assigned in the NFPA system assume that a fire is present.  The NFPA system was designed to alert fire fighters arriving on the scene of a fire to the hazards associated with materials present at that location.  

Special Handling Precautions

The white section of the NFPA hazard diamond refers to special handling precautions.  This field of the hazard diamond may have variable content, depending on who prepared the signal.  The 1990 edition of the National Fire Codes (section 704, chapter 5) specifies only the two symbols W and OX.  Additional symbols are commonly included, as shown in the table below.  The field may also be left blank if no special hazards are present.


Material shows unusual reactivity with water, so avoid getting it wet.

Example: magnesium metal


Material possesses oxidizing properties.

Example: ammonium nitrate


Material is an acid.

Example: hydrochloric acid


Material is a base (alkaline).

Example: potassium hydroxide


Material is corrosive.

Example: hydrogen peroxide

Material is radioactive.

Example: thorium(IV) fluoride

5.  HMIG Labeling System

The Hazardous Material Identification Guide (HMIG) is a labeling system developed by Lab Safety Supply Inc. as an HCS compliance tool.  The intended audience is employees who must handle hazardous chemicals in the workplace.  

Required Protective Equipment

The white section of the HMIG labeling system refers to protective gear required while handling a chemical.  These symbols indicate the type(s) of protective equipment that must be used when handling a chemical.  The symbols are the letters A - K and X, with “A” indicating that goggles must be worn, and successive letters indicating progressively increasing amounts of protective gear.  A table with all of these symbols is on the next page.


Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) required

Icon(s) used with symbol


Safety Glasses


Safety Glasses, Gloves


Safety Glasses, Gloves, Apron


Face Shield, Gloves, Apron


Safety Glasses, Gloves, Dust Respirator


Safety Glasses, Gloves, Apron, Dust Respirator


Safety Glasses, Gloves, Vapor Respirator


Splash Goggles, Gloves, Apron, Vapor Respirator


Safety Glasses, Gloves, Dust and Vapor Respirator


Splash Goggles, Gloves, Apron, Dust and Vapor Respirator


Air Line Hood or Mask, Gloves, Full Suit, Boots


Ask supervisor or safety specialist for handling instructions.

D.  Transport of Hazardous Materials

The United Nations Economic and Social Council developed a set of regulations that is recognized internationally for the transport of dangerous goods, also known as hazardous materials (or HazMat).  This set of regulations is known as the UN Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods.  Although these rules are not the law in all countries outside of the United States, many countries still follow these recommendations.  In trading with other countries, dangerous goods which enter and exit the United States are subject to UN Recommendations.  Within all states of the US any institution or individual transporting chemicals is legally bound by the UN Recommendations.

The Federal Department of Transportation (DOT) groups chemicals into 9 classes, depending upon specific properties.  Some classes are broken up into divisions to further clarify groups within each class.  The 9 DOT chemical hazard classes are:

DOT Hazard Class 1: Explosives

DOT Hazard Class 2: Gases (Compressed, Liquefied, or Dissolved Under Pressure)

DOT Hazard Class 3: Flammable and Combustible Liquids

DOT Hazard Class 4: Flammable Solids

DOT Hazard Class 5: Oxidizing Substances and Organic Peroxides

DOT Hazard Class 6: Poisonous and Infectious Substances

DOT Hazard Class 7: Radioactive Substances

DOT Hazard Class 8: Corrosive Materials (Acid or Alkaline, Organic or Inorganic)

DOT Hazard Class 9: Miscellaneous Regulated Hazardous Materials  

These 9 classes and their divisions have associated diamond-shaped labels that are used to mark chemical containers for shipment.  Labels help shippers to meet the 49 CFR requirements for Performance Oriented Packaging of hazardous material shipments.  This labeling must be retained on the packaging until it is sufficiently cleaned of residue and purged of vapors.  Hazard class labels must be a specific size, shape, and color.  The labels must also use symbols to communicate hazards.  Shippers of hazardous materials are required to use labels meeting all design and durability specifications outlined in the regulations.

Roosevelt University does not stock chemicals in all 9 DOT hazard classes.  The tables in the following 4 pages describe DOT classes in more detail for those containing chemicals stocked by Roosevelt, and examples of chemicals at RU are given for each class.  The divisions in each class are shown where they apply, and the label associated with each class or division is shown.  Only two DOT Hazard Classes are not represented at Roosevelt University: Explosives (Class 1) and Radioactive Substances (Class 7).  Roosevelt University stocks chemicals in all other DOT hazard classes.

DOT Hazard Class 2: Gases


Examples of Chemicals Stored at RU

Transportation Label

Division 2.1: Flammable Gases

Propane, Acetylene, Butane, Ethylene, and Hydrogen

Division 2.2: Non-Flammable / Non-Poisonous Gases

Carbon dioxide, Carbon dioxide fire extinguishers, Helium, Nitrogen, Oxygen, Nitrogen mixtures


Division 2.3: Gas Poisonous by Inhalation

Ammonia, Chlorine

DOT Hazard Class 3: Flammable and Combustible Liquids


Examples of Chemicals Stored at RU

Transportation Label


Acetone, Alcohols, Aldehydes, Benzene, Esters, 2-Butanone, Dimethylformamide (DMF), Hexanes, Pentane, Ketones, Octane

DOT Hazard Class 4: Flammable Solids


Examples of Chemicals Stored at RU

Transportation Label

Division 4.1: Flammable Solids

Nitrocellulose membrane filters, sulfur, titanium powder, and naphthalene

Division 4.2: Spontaneously Combustible Solids

Activated carbon, n-Butyl lithium and other alkyllithiums, and phosphorus


Division 4.3: Solids Dangerous When Wet

Alkaline earth metal alloys, aluminum powder, calcium hydride, calcium, magnesium, lithium, sodium, sodium borohydride

DOT Hazard Class 5: Oxidizers and Organic Peroxides


Examples of Chemicals Stored at RU

Transportation Label

Division 5.1: Oxidizers

Nitrates, Chlorates, Chlorites, Hypochlorites, Perchlorates, Permanganates, and many fertilizers

Division 5.2: Organic Peroxides

Hydrogen peroxide, Benzoyl peroxide


DOT Hazard Class 6: Poisonous and Infectious Substances


Examples of Chemicals Stored at RU

Transportation Label

Division 6.1: Poisonous / Toxic Compounds

Aniline, Arsenic compounds, Dichloromethane, Barium compounds, Chloroform, Phenol, Cyanides, Mercury compounds, Vanadium compounds, Sodium azide

Division 6.2: Infectious Substances

Bacterial cultures and stocks that might contain an infectious substance, Patient specimens such as blood or tissue swabs, Toxins derived from animals or plants  

DOT Hazard Class 8: Corrosive Materials


Examples of Chemicals Stored at RU

Transportation Label


Acetic acid, Sulfuric acid, Nitric acid, Hydrochloric acid, Perchloric acid, Ferric chloride, Formaldehyde, Chromic acid, and Sodium hydroxide

DOT Hazard Class 9: Miscellaneous Regulated Hazardous Materials


Examples of Chemicals Stored at RU

Transportation Label


Dry ice, Polymeric beads, Environmentally Hazardous Substances such as carbon tetrachloride, and Metallic mercury

E.  Procurement and Distribution of Chemicals

1.  Laboratory and Chemical Security

Security within all Roosevelt University laboratories is maintained with the following procedures:

2.  Delivery of Chemicals to the Science Laboratories


All packaged chemicals from vendors which arrive at the Roosevelt University loading dock are delivered to the laboratory manager’s office on either campus by staff of the Department of Mail Services.  Once a package is delivered the laboratory manager or laboratory assistant who receives the package signs a Mail Services record which verifies receipt of the package.  This signed document is kept on file in the Office of Mail Services.

Upon arrival at the laboratory manager’s office a package is opened and its contents are logged into the “BCPS Incoming Package Log.”  The chemicals from the package are placed into one of three “Package Receiving Areas” until they can be logged into the chemical inventory:

3.  Purchase of Large Chemical Quantities


The purchase of large chemical quantities is discouraged at Roosevelt University due to the cost of disposal of unused chemicals, and the fact that space for storage of bulk chemicals is limited.

4.  Ordering Chemicals

The lab managers are responsible for ordering all chemicals.  Provide the laboratory manager with the following information for all needed chemicals:  

It may take several days or even weeks to obtain the supplies, and so it is imperative that to request the items as early as possible.   Also, grouping an order from a supplier often minimizes delivery costs and helps to keep costs down.   Thus, it helps to notify the lab manager of all items needed as early in the semester as possible.

F.  Storage of Chemicals

Local, state, and federal governments have specific regulations that affect the handling and storage of chemicals in laboratories.  This section addresses these regulations.

1.  General Considerations

In general, chemicals should be stored in their proper cabinets.  The physical properties determining the storage location of a chemical can be found in the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for that particular compound.  Non-hazardous aqueous solutions may be stored on open heavy-duty shelves.

Cabinets for chemical storage should be of solid, sturdy construction. Hardwood or metal shelving is preferred. Some may require ventilation.  Materials of construction should be carefully considered where corrosive materials will be stored, e.g., corrosive-resistant liners or trays on shelves, location away from copper fittings, etc.  Allow space within the building for any central chemical and biological or radioactive waste storage needs.  Wall shelving should have heavy-duty brackets and standards and should be attached to studs or solid blocking.  For office spaces, bookcases are preferable to wall-mounted shelving.  The following rules of thumb are important considerations in chemical storage:

2.  Finding Chemicals in the Roosevelt University Inventory System

When the instructor or lab assistant is preparing for an experiment and searching for chemicals, he or she should check the chemical inventory.  If you cannot locate the chemical, check the chemical inventory that each lab manager maintains.  A soft copy is maintained and updated by the lab managers, and this copy is regularly updated on the computers throughout the laboratories.  Note that many chemicals have more than one commonly used name, so a compound may be listed under one of various synonyms.  A good place to search for chemical synonyms is the Sigma-Aldrich website.  Where possible, search for a chemical by CAS number.

3.  Segregation of Chemicals and Incompatibility

Incompatible chemicals should not be stored together. Storing chemicals alphabetically, without regard to compatibility, can increase the risk of a hazardous reaction, especially in the event of container breakage. In addition to the Chemical Incompatibility Chart below, there are several resources available, both in print and on-line, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Chemical Reactivity Worksheet (CRW). 

Use common sense when setting up chemical storage. Segregation that disrupts normal workflow can increase the potential for spills.

There are several possible storage plans for segregation. In general, dry reagents, liquids and compressed gases should be stored separately, then by hazard class, then alphabetically (if desired).

  1. Segregate dry reagents as follows:
  1. Segregate liquids as follows:
  1. Segregate compressed gases as follows:

Chemical Incompatibility Chart

Many chemicals are incompatible with other chemicals due to reactivity and should not be stored together.  Mixing these chemicals purposely or as a result of a spill can result in heat, fire, explosion, and/or toxic gases.  Here is a partial list:  

Chemical Incompatibility Chart


Incompatible Compounds

Acetic Acid

Chromic Acid, nitric acid, hydroxyl-containing compounds, ethylene glycol, perchloric acid, peroxides, and permanganates. 


Bromine, chlorine, nitric acid, sulfuric acid, and hydrogen peroxide.


Bromine, chlorine, copper, mercury, fluorine, iodine, and silver.

Alkali and Alkaline Earth Metals such as calcium, lithium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, powdered aluminum

Carbon dioxide, carbon tetrachloride and other chlorinated hydrocarbons, water, bromine, chlorine, fluorine, and iodine.  Do not use CO2, water or dry chemical extinguishers.  Use Class D extinguisher (e.g., Met-L-X) or dry sand.

Aluminum and its Alloys (especially powders)

Acid or alkaline solutions, ammonium persulfate and water, chlorates, chlorinated compounds, nitrates, and organic compounds in nitrate/nitrate salt baths. 

Ammonia (anhydrous)

Bromine, chlorine, calcium hypochlorite, hydrofluoric acid, iodine, mercury, and silver.

Ammonium Nitrate

Acids, metal powders, flammable liquids, chlorates, nitrates, sulfur and finely divided organics or other combustibles. 


Hydrogen peroxide or nitric acid.


Acetone, acetylene, ammonia, benzene, butadiene, butane and other petroleum gases, hydrogen, finely divided metals, sodium carbide, turpentine. 

Calcium Oxide


Carbon (activated) 

Calcium hypochlorite, all oxidizing agents.

Caustic (soda)

Acids (organic and inorganic).

Chlorates or Perchlorates

Acids, aluminum, ammonium salts, cyanides, phosphorous, metal powders, oxidizable organics or other combustibles, sugar, sulfides, and sulfur.


Acetone, acetylene, ammonia, benzene, butadiene, butane and other petroleum gases, hydrogen, finely divided metals, sodium carbide, turpentine.

Chlorine Dioxide

Ammonia, methane, phosphine, hydrogen sulfide. 

Chromic Acid

Acetic acid, naphthalene, camphor, alcohol, glycerine, turpentine and other flammable liquids.


Acetylene, hydrogen peroxide. 

Cumene Hydroperoxide




Flammable Liquids

Ammonium nitrate, chromic acid, hydrogen peroxide, nitric acid, sodium peroxide, bromine, chlorine, fluorine, iodine.


Isolate from everything.


Hydrogen peroxide, nitric acid, and other oxidizing agents.


Bromine, chlorine, chromic acid, fluorine, hydrogen peroxide, and sodium peroxide.

Hydrocyanic Acid

Nitric acid, alkali.

Hydrofluoric Acid

Ammonia, aqueous or anhydrous.

Hydrogen Peroxide (anhydrous)

Chromium, copper, iron, most metals or their salts, aniline, any flammable liquids, combustible materials, nitromethane, and all other organic material.

Hydrogen Sulfide 

Fuming nitric acid, oxidizing gases.


Acetylene, ammonia (aqueous or anhydrous), hydrogen.


Acetylene, alkali metals, ammonia, fulminic acid, nitric acid with ethanol, hydrogen, oxalic acid. 


Combustible materials, esters, phosphorous, sodium acetate, stannous chloride, water, zinc powder. 

Nitric acid (concentrated)

Acetic acid, acetone, alcohol, aniline, chromic acid, flammable gases and liquids, hydrocyanic acid, hydrogen sulfide and nitratable substances. 


Potassium or sodium cyanide.


Inorganic bases, amines. 

Oxalic acid 

Silver, mercury, and their salts.

Oxygen (liquid or enriched air)

Flammable gases, liquids, or solids such as acetone, acetylene, grease, hydrogen, oils, phosphorous. 

Perchloric Acid 

Acetic anhydride, alcohols, bismuth and its alloys, paper, wood, grease, oils or any organic materials and reducing agents. 

Peroxides (organic)

Acid (inorganic or organic). Also avoid friction and store cold.

Phosphorus (white)

Air, oxygen.

Phosphorus pentoxide

Alcohols, strong bases, water.


Air (moisture and/or oxygen) or water, carbon tetrachloride, carbon dioxide.

Potassium Chlorate

Sulfuric and other acids. 

Potassium Perchlorate


Potassium Permanganate

Benzaldehyde, ethylene glycol, glycerol, sulfuric acid. 

Silver and silver salts

Acetylene, oxalic acid, tartaric acid, fulminic acid, ammonium compounds. 


See Alkali Metals

Sodium Chlorate

Acids, ammonium salts, oxidizable materials and sulfur. 

Sodium Nitrite 

Ammonia compounds, ammonium nitrate, or other ammonium salts. 

Sodium Peroxide 

Any oxidizable substances, such as ethanol, methanol, glacial acetic acid, acetic anhydride, benzaldehyde, carbon disulfide, glycerol, ethylene glycol, ethyl acetate, methyl acetate, furfural, etc. 




Any oxidizing materials. 

Sulfuric Acid 

Chlorates, perchlorates, permanganates, compounds with light metals such as sodium, lithium, and potassium. 


Acetyl chloride, alkaline and alkaline earth metals, their hydrides and oxides, barium peroxide, carbides, chromic acid, phosphorous oxychloride, phosphorous pentachloride, phosphorous pentoxide, sulfuric acid, sulfur trioxide. 

4.  Storage of Flammable and Combustible Materials

Flammable and combustible liquids should be stored only in approved containers. Approval for containers is based on specifications developed by the US Department of Transportation (DOT), OSHA, the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).  Containers used by Roosevelt University for flammable and combustible liquids meet these specifications.

Flammable liquid storage needs should be defined in advance so that the laboratory may have space for a suitable number of flammable storage cabinets. Per the Uniform Fire Code, quantities greater than 10 gallons of flammable liquids must be stored in a flammable liquid storage cabinet, unless safety cans are used. No more than 25 gallons of flammable liquids in safety cans may be stored outside a flammable liquid storage cabinet.

Flammable liquid storage is not allowed below grade or near a means of egress, per the Uniform Fire Code.  Flammable storage cabinets should not be vented unless there is a significant odor or vapor control concern.  

While storing flammable liquids, the following practices should be observed:

Flammable Liquid Storage Cabinets

A flammable liquid storage cabinet is an approved cabinet that has been designed and constructed to protect the contents from external fires.  Storage cabinets are usually equipped with vents, which are plugged by the cabinet manufacturer.  Since venting is not required by any code or the by local municipalities and since venting may actually prevent the cabinet from protecting its contents, vents should remain plugged at all times. Storage cabinets must also be conspicuously labeled “FLAMMABLE. 


Use only those refrigerators that have been designed and manufactured for flammable liquid storage for temperature-sensitive flammable materials. Standard household refrigerators must not be used for flammable storage because internal parts could spark and ignite. Refrigerators must be prominently labeled as to whether or not they are suitable for flammable liquid storage.

Other Combustible Materials

Common combustible materials, such as paper, wood, corrugated cardboard cartons and plastic labware, if allowed to accumulate, can create a significant fire hazard in the laboratory. Combustible materials not stored in metal cabinets should be kept to a minimum.  Large quantities of such supplies should be stored in a separate room when possible.

5.  Storage of Corrosive Materials

Laboratories using corrosive liquids should have ample storage space low to the floor, preferably in low cabinets, such as under fume hoods.  Also, some types of acids are incompatible and should be stored separately.  

Mineral Acids (Inorganic Acids)

A mineral acid is defined as a water-soluble acid derived from inorganic minerals by chemical reaction as opposed to organic acids such acetic acid and formic acid. Mineral acids, or inorganic acids, are all commonly found in laboratories as aqueous solutions, with the exception of boric acid.  Some of the more common mineral acids are listed on the next page.

The liquid mineral acids should be stored in cabinets designed for corrosive acids.  These non-metallic cabinets have no internal metallic parts, acid resistant coating and a cabinet floor constructed to be able to contain spillage.  These cabinets are constructed from wood, polymers, or a combination of both.  Nitric acid, however, is volatile and should be stored with extra caution.  

Volatile acids

Volatile acids such as oleum, or fuming sulfuric acid, should be stored either in an acid cabinet or in a vented cabinet, such as the fume hood base, particularly after they have been opened.  Concentrated mineral acids can be very reactive, even with each other.

Concentrated acids

Concentrated acids readily undergo violent exothermic reactions that can produce a lot of heat.  Such acids can even react vigorously with dilute solutions of the same acid if mixed together rapidly.  For example, concentrated sulfuric acid mixed quickly with 1M sulfuric acid will generate a lot of heat.  Differently concentrated acids should be stored apart.  If stored within the same cabinet, plastic trays, tubs or buckets work well to keep different acids apart.

Acetic acid

Acetic acid is an organic acid and should be stored separately from mineral acids.  Since it is also flammable, it is best stored with other flammable liquids.

Picric Acid

Picric acid can form explosive salts with many metals, or by itself when dry.  Picric acid in liquid form is the safest to store.  

Perchloric Acid

Perchloric acid, one of the mineral acids, is an extremely powerful oxidizer and must be kept away from all organic materials, including wood.    


Solid bases, such as hydroxide salts, are stored in special cabinets.  Aqueous solutions of bases are stored in different cabinets.

6.  Storage of Unstable Chemicals

Ethers and some ketones and olefins may form peroxides when exposed to air or light. Since they may have been packaged in an air atmosphere, peroxides can form even if the container has not been opened.

Some chemicals, such as dinitroglycerine and germane (germanium tetrahydride), are shock-sensitive, meaning that they can rapidly decompose or explode when struck, vibrated or otherwise agitated. These compounds become more shock-sensitive with age.

For any potentially unstable chemical:

7.  Storage of Poisonous Substances

Particularly poisonous substances, including carcinogens, acutely toxic chemicals and reproductive toxins, are stored in special airtight cabinets separately from other chemicals.  All cabinets storing such compounds are clearly labeled with the DOT Hazard Class 6 symbol.  

8.  Storage of Compressed Gases

Compressed gases pose a chemical hazard due to the gases themselves and a high energy source hazard due to the great amount of pressure in the cylinder. Large cylinders may weigh 130 pounds or more and can pose a crush hazard to hands and feet.  The following rules apply to all compressed gas cylinders:

See Section VI (Part D) for more information on compressed gas cylinders.

G.  Handling of Hazardous Materials

1.  Handling Corrosive Materials

a.  Corrosive Liquids 

When handling corrosive liquids the following should be considered:

b.  Corrosive Gases and Vapors

When handling corrosive gases and vapors the following should be considered:

c.  Corrosive Solids 

When handling corrosive solids the following should be considered:

2.  Handling Ignitable and Explosive Materials

a.  Flammable and Combustible Liquids

The main objective in working safely with flammable liquids is to avoid accumulation of vapors and to control sources of ignition.

Besides the more obvious ignition sources, such as open flames from Bunsen burners, matches and cigarette smoking, less obvious sources, such as electrical equipment, static electricity and gas-fired heating devices should be considered.

Some electrical equipment, including switches, stirrers, motors, and relays can produce sparks that can ignite vapors. Although some newer equipment have spark-free induction motors, the on-off switches and speed controls may be able to produce a spark when they are adjusted because they have exposed contacts. One solution is to remove any switches located on the device and insert a switch on the cord near the plug end.

Pouring flammable liquids can generate static electricity. The development of static electricity is related to the humidity levels in the area. Cold, dry atmospheres are more likely to facilitate static electricity. Bonding or using ground straps for metallic or non-metallic containers can prevent static generation.

b.  Fire Extinguishers

Roosevelt University has different types of fire extinguishers because not all fires are the same.  Different fuels create different fires and require different types of fire extinguishing agents.  There are five different classes of fire extinguishers: A, B, C, D, and K.  Each class is discussed in detail below.

Class A: These extinguishers are used for Class A fires, which occur when ordinary combustibles such as paper, wood, plastics, cloth, and trash become heated to their ignition point.  These are the most common type of fire.

Class A fires are not difficult to fight and contain.  If any of the four elements causing fire (heat, oxidizer, fuel, or chemical reaction) are removed, the fire will die out.  The most common way of achieving this is by applying water to remove heat.  These fires can also be put out by smothering them with foams, which prevent oxygen from reacting with the fuel.  Finally, ammonium phosphate can be added, which is a refrigerant that removes heat and kills the chemical reaction.

Class B: These extinguishers are used for Class B fires, which involve flammable liquids and flammable gas.  Class B fuels include liquids such as petroleum oil, gasoline, and paint and gases such as natural gas, propane, and butane.  Cooking oils and grease not cause Class B fires.  

A solid stream of water should never be used to extinguish this type of fire because it can cause the fire to scatter, which will result in a spreading of the flames.  The most effective way to extinguish a fire fueled by flammable liquids or gases is to inhibit the chemical chain reaction, which is can be done with different methods.  Common methods involve smothering the fire with carbon dioxide or a type of Halon.  Foams can be used to smother fires caused by flammable liquids.

The various Halons have fallen out of favor because they cause ozone-depleting materials to form once reacting with the fire.  The Halons are a group of alkyl halides that are used in agriculture, dry cleaning, fire suppression, and other applications.  Halon 2402, which is dibromotetrafluoroethane, is one that is used in Class B fire extinguishers.  

A new commonly used clean agent for fire suppression is HFC-227 (heptafluoropropane), which was designed as a replacement for a Halon.  This compound contains no chlorine or bromine atoms, which attribute to the ozone depleting effects of the chlorinated and brominated Halons.  It also leaves no residue behind after discharge, because gaseous hydrogen fluoride, carbon monoxide, and carbon dioxide are evolved as heptafluoropropane decomposes during fire suppression.  Because of the generation of these gases, global warming potential is high as a result of the use of HFC-227 in fire suppression.    

Purple K, which is primarily potassium bicarbonate with a violet color, is the most effective dry chemical in fighting Class B fires caused by flammable liquids.  It is 4-5 times more effective against Class B fires than CO2, and more than twice that of sodium bicarbonate.  Purple K works by directly inhibiting the chemical chain reaction which sustains the fire.  This compound is commonly used in dry powder fire extinguishers.  It is also corrosive and decomposes carbon dioxide and potassium oxide.

Class C: These extinguishers are used for Class C fires, which involve energized electrical equipment.  Such equipment may be transformers with overloaded electrical cables or short-circuited motors and appliances.  If the power source is removed a Class C fire becomes an ordinary combustible fire.

Water and other materials that conduct electricity should never be used to suppress Class C fires.  Carbon dioxide, HFC-227, baking soda, and Purple K can be used to smother Class C fires.  Purple K is not ideal for Class C fires, due to its corrosive properties.

Class D: These extinguishers are used for Class D fires, which involve flammable or combustible metals such as sodium, potassium, lithium, magnesium, calcium, titanium, zinc, zirconium, aluminum, uranium, hafnium, and plutonium.  Magnesium and titanium fires are common fuels in Class D fires.  Generally, metal fire risks exist when sawdust, machine shavings, and other metal “fines” are present.  These fines have a large amount of oxidizable surface area.  In 2006-2007, many laptop models were recalled because lithium batteries were spontaneously igniting.

Titanium fires are common in mechanical manufacturing plants because dust from the ground metal can be easily ignited by friction from belts rubbing together, metal sliding on metal, static charges from metal sliding across plastic parts or even latex painted surfaces.  Titanium fines can also be ignited with a common table match, torches, heaters, or welding operations.  Titanium burns at a full-white heat.

Metal fires are a unique hazard because most people are not aware of the characteristics of Class D fires and are not properly prepared to fight them.  Thus, even a small metal fire can spread and become a larger fire as it reacts with surrounding ordinary combustible materials.  

Water should not be used on metal fires because it can excite the fires and make them worse.  Dry powder extinguishers should be used for Class D fires.  Common dry powders contain sodium chloride, graphite, and copper.  

Two different important types of Class D extinguishers are sodium chloride-based and copper-based.  Sodium chloride combustible metal fire extinguishers contain a specially blended sodium chloride-based dry powder extinguishing agent.  This dry powder is suited for metal fires involving magnesium, sodium, potassium, uranium, powdered aluminum, and more.  Class D copper combustible metal fire extinguishers combat fires involving lithium and lithium alloys.  It is the only known lithium fire extinguishing agent that will cling to a vertical surface.  

Class K: These extinguishers are used for Class K fires, which involve cooking oils and grease.  These cooking oils and grease may be either animal fats or vegetable fats.  While these fires are similar to Class B fires caused by flammable gases and liquids, there are special characteristics of such fires that place them into a separate class.  Common suppressants for Class K fires use saponification, which is a chemical process of hydrolyzing fatty acid ester groups of the oils and yields detergent-like compounds that act as foams to smother the fires.

c.  Flammable Aerosols

Flammable liquids in pressurized containers may rupture and aerosolize when exposed to heat, creating a highly flammable vapor cloud. As with flammable liquids, any containers with aerosols should be stored in a flammable storage cabinet.

d.  Flammable and Combustible Solids

Many flammable solids react with water and cannot be extinguished with conventional dry chemical or carbon dioxide extinguishers. Ensure that Class D extinguishers, such Met-L-X, are available where flammable metal-based solids are used or stored.  Roosevelt stocks both sodium chloride-based and copper-based Class D extinguishers in the chemistry lab areas on both campuses.

e.  Flammable Oxidizers

Some solids compounds are oxidizers that readily transfer oxygen atoms or gain electrons in oxidation-reduction reactions.  While many solid oxidizers are not themselves flammable, they may ignite due to the heat of reaction produced upon combination with reducing agents or other combustible materials.  The following compounds are common oxidizers that can cause extremely violent combustion:

f.  Catalyst Ignition

Some solid hydrogenated catalysts, such as palladium, platinum oxide, and Raney nickel, when recovered from hydrogenation reactions, may become saturated with hydrogen and present a fire or explosion hazard.

g.  Explosion Hazards

Explosive/Implosive Conditions

In addition to the aforementioned general guidelines regarding hazardous chemical use, the following extra guidelines apply to the use or generation of explosive chemicals or the undertaking of procedures which, because of their reaction rate or their confines, are potentially explosive or implosive:

Designated Area

All storage and work with these substances must be confined to a designated area. A designated area may be the entire laboratory, an area of a laboratory, or a device such as a laboratory fume hood.

The designated area should be the smallest practical area for the application so that the scope of any potential accident is limited.  To ensure that all persons with access are aware of the hazardous chemicals being used or procedures being conducted and the necessary precautions, the designated area shall be conspicuously posted with warning and restricted access signs.

Personal Protective Apparel and Devices

When handling explosive compounds or conducting potentially explosive experiments, a lab coat, gloves, and chemical splash goggles must be worn at all times.  Barriers such as shields, barricades, and guards must be used to protect personnel and equipment from injury and damage whenever reactions are in progress or whenever materials are being temporarily stored. The barrier shall completely surround the hazardous area. If at all possible, activities with these substances shall be conducted in a fume hood with the sash lowered to form a shield.  If the size of the experimental arrangement does not permit it to occur in a fume hood and it must be moved out into the lab, a 0.25 inch (0.625 cm) thick acrylic shield or equivalent shield shall be used.

Heavy duty, flock-lined gloves and a face shield with a throat protector must be worn whenever it is necessary to reach behind a shielded area, move shields aside, or handle or transport explosive compounds.

Reaction Operations

 All controls for heating and stirring equipment must be operable from behind the shielded area.  Vacuum pumps potentially exposed to highly reactive or explosive gases or vapors must have their oil changed at least once a month and sooner if it is known that the oil has been exposed. All pumps shall either be vented into a hood or trapped.

When working with shock or friction-sensitive materials, ground glass fixtures shall be substituted with Teflon or Teflon-coated apparatus.  There must be two people present in the area at all times when these operations are used.  Contingency plans (i.e., a written plan of what to do if things go wrong), equipment, and materials to minimize exposures of people and property in case of accident must be available.

Roosevelt laboratories also stock a variety of explosive chemicals, such as peroxides, strong oxidizers, hydrides, acetylides, azides, and diazonium compounds.  Some compounds can form peroxides if exposed to air for extended periods, such as ethers (including tetrahydrofuran and dioxane) and olefins.  Some compounds are explosive when they come in contact with water, such as lithium aluminum hydride and metallic sodium.  All of these chemicals should be handled by students and laboratory assistants under supervision.


The following recommendations should be followed when working with peroxides:

Detection of Peroxides

If there is any suspicion that peroxide is present, do not open the container or otherwise disturb the contents. Call EHS for disposal. The container and its contents must be handled with extreme care. If solids, especially crystals, for example, are observed either in the liquid or around the cap, peroxides are most likely present.

If no peroxide is suspected but the chemical is a peroxide former, the chemical can be tested by the lab to ensure no peroxide has formed.  Peroxide test strips, which change color to indicate the presence of peroxides, may be purchased through most laboratory reagent distributors.  For proper testing, reference the manufacturer’s instruction.  Do not perform a peroxide test on outdated materials that potentially have dangerous levels of peroxide formation

Removal of Peroxides

If peroxides are suspected, the safest route is to alert the laboratory manager or safety officer for treatment and disposal of the material.  Attempting to remove peroxides may be very dangerous under some conditions.

3.  Handling Poisonous Substances

Toxic chemicals can be fast-acting or slow-acting.  Keep in mind that highly reactive chemicals, such as acids and halogenated compounds, are harmful to humans.  The following substances are toxic even in low amounts: cyanides, cadmium compounds, heavy metals and their salts, various organometallic substances, and many organic substances.  

Poisons are very different from corrosives in that corrosives are immediately dangerous to the tissues they contact, whereas poisons may have systemic toxic effects that require time to become evident.  Mercury has poisonous effects that build up slowly over time, while cyanides are poisons that act very quickly to cause lethal oxygen starvation in mammalian cells.

Poison Storage and Designated Work Area

Particularly poisonous substances, including carcinogens, acutely toxic chemicals and reproductive toxins, are stored in special airtight cabinets separately from other chemicals.  These compounds must be used in a clearly marked Designated Work Area. 


Teratogens are chemicals that are known to cause fetal defects during pregnancy.  It is important that you have students inform you if they are pregnant at the beginning of the semester or become pregnant throughout the semester, because teratogens are handled in many Roosevelt laboratory courses.  When teratogens will be handled, pregnant students should not be present in the laboratory.  A dry experiment can be arranged for that student, which will avoid the use of chemicals.

H.  Hazardous Material Waste Disposal and Removal

1.  General Considerations  

Roosevelt University allows space for the variety of waste collection containers needed.  These include laboratory trash, broken glass, sharps, recyclable containers, chemical waste, used oil, and biohazardous waste receptacles.  Laboratories using compressed gases should have recessed areas for cylinder storage and be equipped with devices to secure cylinders in place.  All laboratories should have storage space for PPE supplies, boxes of gloves, spill kits and adsorbents, and all hazardous material storage cabinets.

Roosevelt University laboratory stores most contained hazardous material waste in cabinets in the chemistry laboratories until a scheduled removal.  Each campus has is a primary chemical waste cabinet and a secondary hazardous material waste cabinet which are used to store all waste until a scheduled removal.  Incompatible wastes are separated accordingly.

In order to responsibly manage chemical waste all employees must be familiar with the following:

2.  Choosing and Labeling a Hazardous Waste Container

According to the Code of Federal Regulations, hazardous materials must be properly labeled and identified.  Such labeling serves two purposes: it protects employees working with hazardous materials, and it allows such materials to be properly transported to and from Roosevelt University facilities. State and federal OSHA and DOT regulations stipulate how waste generators label and contain hazardous material waste.  When choosing and labeling a container for waste, consider the following:

3.  Waste Containment Protocols

Containers of hazardous waste may be stored in an area of a laboratory or facilities operation near the point of generation. This area must be controlled by the principal investigator or workers generating the waste. State and federal regulations stipulate how waste generators store chemical and other hazardous material waste.  Consider the following when containing hazardous material waste:

4.  Categorizing and Separating Hazardous Material Waste

Hazardous material waste is categorized and separated at Roosevelt University according to the following categories.  In general, liquid chemical waste is contained separately from solid chemical waste.  Other categories of hazardous material waste must be contained separately from the general liquid and solid containers, because they may be part of separate DOT Hazard Class.

a.  Liquid Chemical Waste

Most chemical waste generated at Roosevelt University can be contained in one of the three primary types of containers as listed below.  Because these three types are generated regularly in large quantities, the containers used are large UN-rated 3-5 gallon drums.  Until a container is full, it is stored in the primary chemical waste storage cabinet.  Once a container is full it should be labeled and moved to a nearby secondary hazardous material waste storage cabinet.  

Organic Non-Halogenated

This liquid waste has a base of flammable solvents including methanol, toluene, ethanol, diethyl ether, petroleum ether, hexane, acetone, acetonitrile, and dimethyl sulfoxide.  Other organic non-halogenated compounds are contained as solutes, including esters, alcohols, ketones, aldehydes, alkanes, alkenes, and dienes.         


Organic Halogenated

This liquid waste has a base of dichloromethane.  Other organic compounds are contained as solutes, including alkyl halides and aryl halides.         



This liquid waste has a base of water and contains dissolved cations and anions.  Common metallic cations in include sodium, potassium, nickel, magnesium, calcium, and iron.  Common anions include carbonates, sulfates, sulfites, nitrates, nitrites, halogens, and phosphates.  Solutions containing any of the following ions should not go into this container:

b.  Solid Chemical Waste         

Solid waste of the three types below is collected into one of three cans lined with plastic bags.  The outside of the plastic bag should be labeled with an appropriate Hazardous Material accumulation sticker.  The plastic bags are then collected into large UN-rated 3-gallon plastic HDPE drums for removal.                    


This solid waste contains both halogenated and non-halogenated organic compounds.  Common chemicals in this waste container are organic compounds isolated or synthesized in organic chemistry courses.



This solid waste contains inorganic salts.  The general chemistry courses use many inorganic solids that may go into this waste container.  Drying agents may also go into this waste container.  The following salts should not go into this container:

Gloves, Paper, and Plastics

This solid waste contains gloves that may have been used to clean up a chemical spill.  Paper products used to clean up spills may also have appreciable amounts of chemicals on them that need to be contained, and should go into this waste container.  Plastic weigh boats and other items such as pipets which have been contaminated with hazardous materials should also go into this container.

c.  Special Chemical Waste

Certain compounds are in special DOT Hazard Classes and thus need to be contained separately.  The following salts should be contained separately, regardless of whether they are in a solid state or a liquid solution:

Put the waste into an appropriate container and put a Hazardous Waste accumulation sticker on it.  Include the amount of the compound to the best of your knowledge and put your name on the sticker, should any questions arise at a later date.

d.  Biological Hazardous Waste

Smaller biological waste

Smaller biological waste includes used plastic pipettes, pipette tips, capillary tubes, dissected organs or tissue, Petri plates, electrophoresis gels, and microcentrifuge tubes.  These items should be disposed of in the red Biohazard bags located at each bench.  Once the lab is complete, all bags should be collected from the benches, tape each closed using autoclave tape, then autoclave them.  If you are not trained in how to use the autoclave yet, place the taped bags on the floor next to the autoclave in the bin marked "To Be Autoclaved" and notify the laboratory manager.  New biohazard bags should be placed back on each bench.  

Large Biological Waste

Large biological waste includes dissected fetal pigs, cats, and other large biological tissue or organisms.  Such waste should be placed in large red Biohazard bag, tied or taped closed, and autoclaved.  If the Biohazard bag is too big to fit into the autoclave, see if it can be separated into two or more Biohazard bags.  Autoclaved Biohazard bags should then be put into an empty specimen box (which was initially used to store the large biological specimens).  This box should not be used for disposal of gloves and other non-organic material.  Bring the box to the dock and dispose of it in the dumpster.

Ethidium Bromide

Liquid ethidium bromide solutions should be disposed of in a labeled waste disposal bottle under the fume hood in the Biology Laboratory.  Most Roosevelt University laboratories now use InstaStain® Ethidium Bromide overlay membranes which are manufactured by Sigma.  These overlay membranes are safer for classroom use and can be disposed of in autoclave bags along with the electrophoresis gels at the end of the experiment.


Other Biological Reagents and Products

Biological reagents or products containing phenol or ethanol should be disposed of in a labeled waste disposal bottle under the fume hood in the Biology Laboratory.  Often these reagents or products may contain other reagents, enzymes, or buffers used throughout an experiment and may need special handling.  Ethanol is highly flammable and phenol is highly toxic, so these should be properly contained and labeled accordingly.  

Dyes and Stains

Biological dyes and stains should also be contained in their own labeled bottle, as many of these have been mixed with other reagents and enzymes.  Furthermore, many of such dyes and stains contain corrosive and environmentally-harmful components.


e.  Broken Glass

All broken glass should be disposed of in the glass disposal boxes located in the Chemistry and Biology Laboratory.  Glass should not be picked up by hand.  Only the Lab Assistant or Instructor should attempt to pick up any large pieces of glass, and then only after putting on a pair of disposable gloves to protect your hands from small glass particles and dust.  It is best to use the dust brush and pan to pick up the rest of the debris.   The dust brush and pan are typically stored on top of one the glass disposal boxes in the red chemistry lab.

f.  Mercury Spills from Broken Thermometers

If mercury spills on a hard surface, while wearing gloves collect as much of the larger pieces of glass as possible, then use the mercury spill kit to collect all visible mercury beads.   Look for beads that may have rolled out of the expected perimeter of the spill to make sure you have collected all them.   If mercury is spilled in the sink, again collect as much of the larger pieces of glass, then collect as much mercury as possible with the spill kit.  Then pour a dilute solution of chlorine bleach down the drain while running cold water for 15 minutes.  Broken thermometer glass is to be collected and placed in a specially-labeled container that is stored in the secondary hazardous waste cabinet fume hood.

g.  Sharps

Non-biohazardous Sharps

Containers purchased for non-biohazardous sharps are rectangular yellow plastic boxes with a cap that can be easily removed to put in the sharps.  Common sharps that may go into this type of container are razor blades and syringe tips used dispense non-biological chemicals.  All syringe tips should be cleaned before putting into the sharps container.  

Biohazardous Sharps

Blades used to cut non-preserved specimens or syringe tips used to draw blood are biohazardous and need to be contained separately.  Biohazardous sharps containers are red and have Biohazard logos on them.  These are located in the biology laboratories.

h.  Silica Gel

Used silica gel that appears free flowing and dry still may have chemical contamination significant enough to classify it as hazardous waste according to the US EPA.  Used silica gel must be collected into a separate container for disposal.  A large blue plastic drum is used to collect silica waste; this drum is stored in the chemistry area of the research laboratory in Schaumburg.  Currently no silica waste is generated on the Chicago campus.  Dispose of the container during regular hazardous waste pickups when necessary.  

Unused silica gel that has not been in contact with hazardous chemicals may be disposed of in the regular trash.

You may also reuse the large original silica gel containers.  When using these or any other large containers, please adhere to the following procedure:

i.  Molecular Sieves and Desiccant Disposal

Used molecular sieves must be disposed as hazardous waste.  Molecular sieves are a DOT Hazard Class 9 material.  Place the material in a labeled bag or container and dispose during the regular hazardous waste pickups.

This policy applies to all used adsorbents, grossly contaminated or otherwise.  Only unused molecular sieves or desiccants that have not been in contact with hazardous chemicals may be disposed of in the regular trash within a sealed container, unless the original packaging indicates otherwise.

j.  Used Oil Disposal

All oil waste in the laboratory should be contained in glass or appropriate metal containers for disposal.  Never put oil waste into plastic containers!  

k.  Empty Gas Lecture Bottles

Empty lecture bottles contain small amounts of gas and should be stored in an appropriate manner until they can be removed during one of the scheduled waste removals.  Empty lecture bottles should not be stored with flammable liquids or corrosive wastes.  

l. Unidentified Hazardous Waste

Waste that cannot be identified should be labeled as unknown hazardous waste.  Unknown wastes cannot be legally transported or disposed.  In order to dispose of them safely and properly, our waste contractors will need to know as much about the material as possible and will then need to test the characteristics of the waste.  The cost of characterization will be charged back to the department that generated the waste.

If you find unknown hazardous waste, please adhere to the following guidelines:

If you find unknown hazardous waste, NEVER:

It is very easy to avoid generating future unknown hazardous waste by doing the following:

5.  Disposal of Empty Chemical Containers

Chemical containers that have been emptied (generally this means drained of their contents by normal methods including pouring, pumping, aspirating, etc.) are not regulated as hazardous waste; however they should not necessarily be disposed of in the regular solid waste dumpsters.   Generally, the primary container (the container that actually held the chemical, as opposed to a container that the primary chemical was packed in), must be triple rinsed with water or other suitable solvent and air-dried before disposal. 

For volatile organic solvents (e.g. acetone, ethanol, ethyl acetate, ethyl ether, hexane, methanol, methylene chloride, petroleum ether, toluene, xylene, etc.) not on the list of acutely hazardous wastes, the emptied container can be air-dried in a ventilated area (e.g. a chemical fume hood) without triple rinsing.

The waste generator must determine whether the washings must be collected and disposed of as hazardous waste.  Generally, if the chemical is on the list of acutely hazardous wastes or if the material is known to have high acute toxicity, the washings must be collected.

Glass Containers

Glass containers must be triple-rinsed with water or other suitable solvent and air-dried to ensure that it is free of liquid or other visible chemical residue.  Intact containers (with caps removed) meeting these criteria should be placed in glass recycling receptacles.   If a suitable glass recycling receptacle is not available, place the containers in a box marked "recyclable glass" and place the box in the hallway for removal by Building Services personnel.  Glass bottle receptacles, consisting of a 20-gallon rubber container with a half lid, are available from Building Services.

If the glass container has visible residue and this residue is hazardous, the container should be disposed as medical waste.  Labeled medical waste cardboard boxes with plastic liners are available from laboratory managers.  If the residue is not hazardous, the intact container should be placed in regular lab trash.

Broken glass containers that are free of chemical residue should be placed in broken glass receptacles or placed in a puncture resistant container, such as a rigid plastic container or corrugated cardboard box.  The plastic container or box should be sealed and placed in regular laboratory trash.

Metal Containers

Metal containers must be triple-rinsed with water or other suitable solvent and air-dried.   If the container is free of hazardous chemical residues, it may be placed in the regular laboratory trash.  Otherwise, it should be disposed as medical waste.

Secondary Containers

Containers that were used as overpack for the primary chemical container may be placed in regular trash or recyclable trash.  Any packing materials, such as vermiculite, perlite, clay, styrofoam, etc., may be placed in the regular trash unless it was contaminated with the chemical as a result of container breakage or leak.  Packing materials contaminated with hazardous materials should be disposed of as hazardous waste.

6.  Contracting the Removal of Stored Hazardous Material Waste

Laboratory managers currently arrange for three waste removal jobs per fiscal year: following spring, summer, and fall semesters.  If an unusually large amount of waste is generated at any time such that both primary and secondary hazardous material storage cabinets are filled with containers, notify the laboratory manager.

The laboratory manager at either campus will coordinate disposal of chemical waste with a contracted company.  Currently Roosevelt University has a contract with Pollution Control Industries (PCI).  The cost of waste disposal is borne by the Department of Biological, Chemical, and Physical Sciences.

I.  Environment Monitoring and Surveillance

Air Quality

The quality of air in the laboratory environment, and its potential to affect human health must be a concern to which laboratory personnel, and those who occupy spaces in proximity to research and teaching laboratories, apply great vigilance. Reliance on the sense of smell in order to determine the presence of a contaminant is not acceptable and reckless.

Air Contaminants

Many factors are responsible for the effects of chemicals on our bodies, however the most important factor that determines the safeness or harmfulness of any substance is the dose (amount) the body absorbs. The amount of a chemical absorbed is function of the duration of exposure to the chemical, the concentration of the chemical, and how often exposure takes place. The effect of a chemical on the body may produce either acute or chronic toxicity. Acute toxicity results in conditions that are readily apparent. Chronic toxicity usually does not produce effects until exposure has continued for some time. A single chemical may produce both acute and toxic effects. Periodic air sampling is recommended for all laboratories that use chemicals which present inhalation hazards.

J.  Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

1.  Lab Coats

Lab coats provide protection to clothing during lab procedures.  Lab coats also serve as a protective barrier between potential lab hazards and your skin.  It is department policy that all individuals in the lab must wear a lab coat.  Lab staff, faculty, and students are expected to wear a lab coat when working in any Roosevelt University laboratory.  The lab coat must be cloth for all students BCPS majors.  Disposable Tyvek lab coats are acceptable for non-major biology courses only, and most be left behind for disposal at the end of the semester or replaced as necessary.    

It is your responsibility as a lab assistant to make sure your students comply with this policy.  Any student who shows up to lab without one is welcome to use one of the extras hanging in the front of each lab.   However, these are available on a first-come-first-serve basis, and if no more are available, the student should not be allowed in the lab for that session.  The rules and consequences should be explained to students during the first lab as part of your safety overview.  Students should understand that they will be asked to leave the laboratory if they do not wear a lab coat.  

Lab coats must be fully buttoned and the sleeves should not be pushed up.  If buttons are missing from the lab coat, the student must obtain a new lab coat or repair the missing button.  Be aware that the lab manager or safety officer may dismiss from the laboratory any student who repeatedly breaks these rules.  If you continually allow students to break these rules, you may be dismissed from your position as laboratory assistant.

2.  Eye Protection

The type of eye protection required throughout Roosevelt University laboratories varies by class.  All chemistry experimental work requires the use of splash-protective goggles, as shown below.  To be splash protective, goggles should have an inside rim that fits snuggly around the student’s eye and should have side vents instead of holes.  Prescription eye glasses and safety glasses are not acceptable protection in chemistry laboratories, as concentrated acids and bases are commonly used and can contact skin without the additional protection offered by goggles.    


      Goggles: acceptable for                      Safety glasses: acceptable for biology

      chemistry laboratories                          laboratories but not for chemistry 


Many biology and physics classes do not require special eye protection, but may have experiment-specific exceptions.  For example, students should be required to wear some form of eye protection when conducting experiments with  that have a potential for impact injury (prescription eye glasses may be sufficient).  Biology students should also wear adequate eye protection while handling hazardous chemicals.  

Since eye protection is a serious safety issue, it is important that you enforce the departmental policy with your students.  You should also make sure you are setting a positive example yourself by always following the rules when working throughout the laboratories or assisting courses.   Students must wear safety glasses or goggles as long as a single student is still conducting an experiment with potentially dangerous materials.  If their glasses are ill-fitting and irritate them, have them try using a different pair.  Students who will not wear proper eye protection should be asked to leave the laboratory.

3.  Gloves

The use of gloves, if any, required throughout RU laboratories varies by class.  Students in any laboratory should wear disposable gloves while handling any potentially hazardous chemicals.  All chemistry experimental work requires the use of disposable gloves.  Students in biology should wear gloves whenever handling potentially hazardous chemicals or biohazardous materials.  

Types of Gloves at Roosevelt University with Applications

Glove Material

Chemical Resistance

Physical Resistance




A soft and flexible synthetic rubber material that offers good protection against 37% HCl, 50% acetic acid, 85% phosphoric acid, 25% sulfuric acid, 50% nitric acid, hydroxides, and ethanol (ETOH, 50% HNO3, and 85% H3PO4 for up to 8 hours).

Poor protection against toluene, methylene chloride, xylene, styrene, pyridine, nitrobenzene, and petroleum products

Excellent cut and abrasion resistance, as well as excellent tensile strength and heat resistance


A co-polymer of acrylonitrile and butadiene which offers good protection against mercury, thallium compounds, animal and vegetable fats, petroleum products, some acids (HF for up to 2 hours, acetic acid, and H3PO4), ethanol for up to 4 hours, carbon tetrachloride, and hydroxides

Poor protection against alkyl halides, ethanol, dichloromethane,  dimethylformamide, acetone, phenol, tetrahydrofuran, toluene, nitrobenzene, 1,4-dioxane, xylene, acetaldehyde, acetic anhydride, chloroform, diethyl ether, and benzene

Excellent resistance to punctures, cuts, snags, and abrasion


(polyvinyl alcohol)

A vinyl alcohol polymer with good resistance to hydrocarbons, aromatics, chlorinated solvents, esters, and most ketones; also highly impermeable to gases

Not resistant to water; never use with aqueous solutions unless the gloves are reinforced

Good resistance to punctures, cuts, snags, and abrasion


(polyvinyl chloride)

A synthetic thermoplastic polymer of vinyl chloride with good protection against fats, petroleum hydrocarbons, mercury, and most acids

Poor protection against alkyl halides

Good abrasion resistance, but susceptible to punctures, cuts, and snags

Silver Shield®/ 4H®

A lightweight, flexible laminated material with good protection from over 280 different, including many toxic and hazard compounds, alcohols, aliphatics, aromatics, chlorides, ketones, and esters

Does not protect from iodomethane

Minimal resistance to cuts and abrasions; good secondary inner glove if mechanical damage is a risk

Different types of gloves should be used when handling different types of chemicals, as few materials protect from all chemicals.  Please familiarize yourself with the types of gloves shown in the table on the previous page.  Also make sure you know where all types of gloves are stored throughout the laboratories.  Nitrile gloves are available throughout all labs in Roosevelt, as they are the best disposable general-duty glove.

4.  Footwear

Students must wear socks and shoes that cover the entire foot.  The heel, toes, and top of the foot should not be exposed, as chemicals and glass can spill onto the floor and harm unprotected feet.  The following types of shoes are not acceptable footwear for work in Roosevelt University laboratories, regardless of whether socks are worn:

5.  Clothing

Students must wear pants in laboratory.  Shorts and short pants that do not cover all skin are not acceptable attire for Roosevelt University labs; the entire leg and ankle must be covered.  Skirts and dresses are acceptable as long as they are ankle-length and do not expose unprotected skin.  All clothing worn in the laboratory should not leave exposed skin.  The pant leg should not be overly baggy with a torn hemline that is dragging on the floor while walking, as these dangling pieces of fabric can collect chemicals and pieces of broken of glass on the floor.  

K.  Exposure Assessment and Monitoring


Employees who suspect they may have received an excessive exposure to a hazardous chemical through ingestion or inhalation must report the exposure to the Environment, Health & Safety Committee (EHS) and the Chemical Hygiene Officer (CHO).  If initial monitoring reveals that excessive exposure has occurred, laboratory inspection and medical surveillance shall follow.  The EHS and the CHO are responsible for a full investigation of this incident and notification of inspection results to all people involved.

EHS will provide an exposure evaluation to any Laboratory Worker who, as a consequence of a laboratory operation, procedure, or activity, reasonably suspects or believes they have sustained an overexposure to a toxic substance. The exposure evaluation may consist of a subjective assessment based on documented odor and irritation levels or it may involve measuring or monitoring the individual's exposure.

EHS shall initially measure the employee's exposure to any OSHA-regulated substance which requires monitoring if there is reason to believe that exposure levels for that substance routinely exceed the action level (or in the absence of an action level, the Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) listed in 29 CFR 1910.1000).   If the initial monitoring discloses exposures over the action limit or PEL, EHS shall immediately comply with the exposure monitoring provisions of the relevant OSHA standard.  EHS may terminate the monitoring in accordance with the relevant standard.  EHS shall notify employees of monitoring results in writing within 15 working days after the monitoring results have been received.

L.  Medical Consultations and Examination

Employees shall have the opportunity to receive medical attention, including any follow-up examinations which the examining physician determines to be necessary, under the following situations:

  1. Whenever an employee develops signs or symptoms associated with a hazardous chemical to which he/she may have been exposed to in the laboratory, the person shall be provided the opportunity to receive an appropriate medical examination.
  2. Where exposure monitoring reveals an exposure level routinely above the action level (a regulatory exposure level that is requires some type of action) or in the absence of an action level, the Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL), for OSHA regulated substances for which there are exposure monitoring and medical surveillance requirements, medical surveillance shall be established for the affected person as prescribed by the particular OSHA standard.
  3. Whenever an event takes place in the work area such as a spill, leak, explosion, or other occurrence resulting in the likelihood of a hazardous chemical exposure, the affected person shall be provided an opportunity for a medical consultation and possible medical examination.

All medical examinations and consultations shall be performed by or under the direct supervision of a licensed physician and shall be provided without cost to the employee, without loss of pay and at a reasonable time and place. Funding responsibility for medical examinations performed under this section is assigned to the employee's department unless other arrangements have been made.

M.  Medical Records

Documentation is necessary and appropriate for both the enforcement of the provisions set forth in this manual and for the development of information regarding the cause and prevention of workplace injury and illness. Adequate documentation must be kept by each responsible party  to demonstrate compliance with all provisions of the manual. These records shall be kept for the duration of the employment of those affected.  The laboratory managers shall ensure that records of these activities are kept, transferred, and made available in accordance with 29 CFR 1910.20. Supervisors must take time to carefully analyze all emergency events, work-related injuries or illnesses, or accidents that could have resulted in injury, even the apparently insignificant occurrences, and ensure that accident reports are filed for each event. The results of such analysis and the recommendations for the prevention of similar occurrences shall be distributed to all who might benefit there from.

N. Spills and Accidents

Pre-planning is essential. Before working with a chemical, the laboratory worker should know how to proceed with spill cleanup and should ensure that there are adequate spill control materials available.

1.  Preventing Spills  

Most spills are preventable. The following are some tips that could help to prevent or minimize the magnitude of a spill:

All life-threatening violations or concerns must be rectified by the supervisor immediately upon realization through appropriate channels. Failure to immediately rectify the concern may result in a shutdown or curtailing of the activity.  Non-serious violations or concerns must be rectified by the supervisor within 30 days.  Unsafe conditions which cannot be corrected by the supervisor must be reported to the next higher level of management. Activities associated with unsafe conditions must cease until the conditions are corrected.

2.  Chemical Spills

In the event of a chemical spill, the individual(s) who caused the spill is responsible for prompt and proper clean-up. It is also their responsibility to have spill control and personal protective equipment appropriate for the chemicals being handled readily available. See Developing a Spill Response Plan for more information.

The following are general guidelines to be followed for a chemical spill.




Treatment Materials


up to 300cc

chemical treatment or absorption

neutralization or absorption spill kit


300 cc - 5 liters


absorption spill kit


more than 5 liters

call laboratory managers or CHO

outside help

3.  Developing a Spill Response Plan

An effective spill response procedure should consider all of the items listed on the next page. The complexity and detail of the plan will, of course depend upon the physical characteristics and volume of materials being handled, their potential toxicity, and the potential for releases to the environment.  The spill response plan should be discussed with all employees in the department.

Chemicals in the Eyes

Flush the eye with water for 15 minutes using the eyewash station.  Hold the eye open to wash under the eyelid.

Chemicals on a Surface

The first step in cleaning up any spill is to consult your instructor or the laboratory manager.  When a large chemical spill occurs on the floor of the lab or bench, containing the spill is important.  The absorbent device located at the front of the labs should be used to prevent the spill from spreading.  In the case of an acid spill, the acid must first be neutralized.  This can be accomplished using a box of baking soda (located in the lab manager’s office in the beige cabinet containing the miscellaneous supplies) or an aqueous solution of sodium bicarbonate or sodium carbonate.  In the case of a base spill, a dilute acid should be used such as vinegar.

Biological Spills

The consequences of any spill of biological material can be minimized by performing all work on plastic-backed absorbent liner to absorb spills. A simple spill kit should be readily available and should include the following items:

Report spills to your supervisor. Contact the Biological Safety Liaison for further information. Details on Biological Spills can be found in Part V.

4.  Recommended Spill Control Material Inventory

The laboratory or work area should have access to sufficient quantity of absorbents or other types of materials to control any spill that can be reasonably anticipated.  If anything

Personal Protective Equipment

Absorption Materials

Neutralizing Materials

Mercury Spills

Clean-up Tools

Chemical Spill Kit contains: 

O.  Emergency Response

1.  General Emergencies  


In the case of an emergency in a Roosevelt University laboratory, one should attempt to follow these guidelines:

  1. Stay calm and use common sense.  
  2. Notify the instructor immediately.  If the instructor is not in the lab, let the lab manager know.  If the lab manager is not present you should call campus security (Schaumburg x 8989; Chicago x2020) to report the incident.  In the unusual event that none of these individuals are available, you should call 911.  Remember, you are responsible for the safety of every individual who steps into the lab during your class period, and it is always better to be safe than sorry.   You will not get in trouble for being cautious- let the health professionals in the emergency room determine if further medical treatment is necessary.
  3. The lab manager, campus security, and the paramedics will require the name and concentration of the reagent (chemical or biological) that was involved in the accident.   The MSDS sheet for the reagent will be required as well.   Therefore it is again important that you have read the MSDS before the lab and are able to get it quickly when needed.   You may want to print a copy as part of your lab preparation and keep it in the folder with the lab procedure.
  4. Afterwards remember to provide the accident details to the lab manager so that the proper reports can be filed.

Emergency Contact Information

Emergency 911 (from a campus phone)                              dial        9911

Schaumburg Campus Security Office                           dial        8989

Senior Lab Manager- John Damascus                   dial        8582

Chicago Campus Security Office                                      dial        2020

Lab Manager        - Michael Newsom                           dial        3681

2.  Fire Emergencies

If you hear a fire alarm, leave the area immediately, following Roosevelt University evacuation procedures.  Remain in your assembly location – usually a parking lot outside the main building complex – until you receive the “all clear” message.

If you see a fire and no alarm is sounding yet, then:

Burning Clothes

Prevent the person from running and fanning the flames.  Rolling the person on the floor will help extinguish the flames.  If a safety shower is nearby, hold the person under the shower until the flames are extinguished and any chemicals are washed away.  Do not use a fire blanket if a shower is nearby, because the blanket does not cool and smoldering will continue.  Remove contaminated clothing.  Wrap the person in a blanket to avoid shock.  Get prompt medical attention.  If you must use a fire extinguisher to put out the fire, be careful not to aim at nose and mouth of the burning person.

Burning Reagents

Extinguish all nearby burners and remove combustible materials and solvents.  Small fires in flasks and beakers can be extinguished using a watch glass or a larger beaker to cover over the smaller container.  For a larger fire, use a fire extinguisher directed at the base of the flame.

Chemical or Thermal Burns on the Skin

Flush the burned area with cold water for at least 15 minutes.  Resume if pain returns.  Wash the chemicals off with a mild detergent and water.  Do not apply neutralizing chemicals, creams, lotions or salves.  If the chemicals are spilled on a person over a large area, quickly remove the contaminated clothing while the person is under the safety shower.   Get prompt medical attention.

3.  Medical Emergencies


Prior to assisting an individual, put on a pair of disposable.  This will protect you and the individual.  Once you have stopped the bleeding, it’s a good idea to examine the object the individual cut himself or herself on.  This enables you determine the potential for embedded objects still in the cut.  For instance, if the student receives a cut from a capillary tube, the ability to piece the broken glass together will tell you if there may be broken glass still in the wound.

Major cuts

If blood is spurting from the wound place a pad from the first aid cabinet directly on the wound and apply firm pressure to stop the bleeding.   Wrap the injured person with the emergency blanket to avoid shock and get immediate medical attention.  NEVER use a tourniquet.

Minor cuts

Wash the cut, remove any foreign debris, apply pressure to stop the bleeding, and apply a band-aid from the closest first-aid kit.

4.  Leaking Compressed Gas

Many laboratory operations require the use of compressed gases for analytical or instrument operations. Compressed gases present a unique hazard. Depending on the particular gas, there is a potential for simultaneous exposure to both mechanical and chemical hazards. If you notice a compressed gas canister that appears to be leaking, contact the instructor immediately.   If the instructor is not around contact the lab manager or the physical plant.

P.  Accident Reports

Any accident, regardless of how small should be reported to the lab manager.  In the absence of the lab manager campus security should be notified so that the appropriate accident report form can be completed.

Supervisors must take time to carefully analyze all emergency events, work-related injuries or illnesses, or accidents that could have resulted in injury, even the apparently insignificant occurrences, and ensure that accident reports are filed for each event. The results of such analysis and the recommendations for the prevention of similar occurrences shall be distributed to all who might benefit there from.

Q.  Training Requirements and Information

The Environment, Health & Safety Committee (EHS) provides safety instruction for individuals working in any laboratory or area where chemical or biological hazards are present.  Students, faculty, and laboratory personnel are prohibited from working in the laboratory prior to appropriate training and documentation as outlined for their specific duties.  Refresher training is required on an annual basis for individuals working in areas of potential exposure to chemical or biological hazards.  

Training and orientation for faculty, staff, and student lab personnel will include the following topics:

Supplemental safety instruction and training on potential hazards associated with specific laboratory duties are provided by the laboratory manager or supervising faculty when appropriate.

Faculty instructors

Following initial on-site safety orientation and training prior to initial laboratory teaching assignment, full time and adjunct faculty instructors are required to participate in safety training of laboratory assistants and research students on an annual basis.  Refresher training is made available each semester either on-site or online.  During training, faculty are provided with the Laboratory Training Manual and informed of the location and availability of the Chemical Hygiene Plan, as well as informed of any updates to safety guidelines and protocols.

Laboratory assistants and research students

Students employed as laboratory assistants or independent research assistants must attend six hours of safety orientation prior to initial work in the laboratory.  Orientation sessions are conducted by the laboratory manager and faculty on both campuses at the start of each semester.  All student laboratory assistants and research students are provided with the Laboratory Training Manual and informed of the location and availability of the Chemical Hygiene Plan.  Refresher training and documentation is required for returning student workers on an annual basis.  Upon completion of safety training, student employees sign the Laboratory Assistant and Research Student Safety Contract.

Enrolled students

Students enrolled in laboratory courses are provided with general safety training by faculty instructors on the first day of instruction for each laboratory course.  Students are informed of the Laboratory Safety Rules and Regulations as outlined in the Laboratory Safety Manual.  Emphasis is placed on training in personal protective equipment, handling of chemical or biological hazardous material, spill response, and emergency procedure. Upon completion of safety training, students sign the Student Safety Contract.

Training Records

The Laboratory Manager will systematically maintain signed contracts by faculty instructors, student laboratory assistants, independent research students, and all students enrolled in laboratory courses.  The following signed documents pertaining to training are held by the Laboratory Manager:


A.  Biosafety Introduction

1.         Roosevelt University Policy Statement

The University is committed to providing a HEALTHY and SAFE learning, teaching and

research environment. The goals of the Roosevelt University's Biological Safety Program are to:

2.         Scope and Application

This manual provides university-wide safety guidelines for working with biological hazards (biohazards). This manual outlines general policies and procedures for using and disposing of infectious or other potentially infectious agents and biohazardous materials. This manual ensures compliance with Federal, State, and Local laws, regulations and guidelines.

The Biological Safety Program applies to all personnel at Roosevelt University's Chicago Campus and Schaumburg Campus, as well as any off-campus research or teaching activities.

3.         Biohazard Definition

The terms "Biohazard" or “Biohazardous agent” refers to an agent that is biological in nature, capable of self-replication, and which has the capacity to produce deleterious effects upon biological organisms. “Biohazardous material” means any material that contains or has been contaminated by a biohazardous agent.

Biohazardous agents include, but are not limited to, bacteria; fungi; viruses; prions; rickettsiae; chlamydia; parasites; recombinant nucleic acid products; allergens; cultured human and animal cells and the potentially biohazardous agents these cells may contain; infected clinical specimens; tissue from experimental animals; plant tissues containing viruses, bacteria and fungi; toxins; and other biohazardous agents as defined in laws, regulations or guidelines.

B. Administration of Biological Safety

1.         Biosafety Personnel

a.         Deans and Department Chairs

Deans and Department Chairs are responsible for the implementation of safe practices and procedures in their schools or departments, and oversee the activities of the Biological Safety Committee.

  1. Laboratory Instructors and Principal Investigators

Biological safety practices and procedures in all University laboratories must comply with those outlined in this manual. Laboratory instructors and principal investigators are responsible for biological safety in the laboratory. They must ensure that workers know and follow biological safety rules, that protective equipment is available and in working order, and that appropriate training has been provided; provide regular, formal biological safety inspections of their facilities and equipment; know the current legal and University requirements concerning biological safety; determine the required levels of protective apparel and equipment; and ensure that facilities and training for use of any agent are adequate.

Principal investigators are responsible for identifying potentially infectious agents and biohazards and carrying out specific control procedures within their own laboratories. This responsibility may not be shifted to inexperienced or untrained personnel. PIs are responsible for the instruction of students and staff in the potential hazards of biologically derived materials. It is the PI's responsibility to ensure that all personnel reporting to them are current in all recommended training programs. All protocols involving work with potentially infectious agents must be submitted to the Biological Safety Committee (BSC) for review and approval.

Principal investigators (PIs), laboratory instructors, laboratory managers or students must contact the Biological Safety Committee (BSC) if they are uncertain how to categorize, handle, store, treat or discard any biologically derived material.  Contact the Department of Biological, Chemical and Physical Sciences office (847-619-8551) for BSC contact information.

c.         Laboratory Staff and Students

Laboratory workers are responsible for planning and conducting each operation in accordance with recognized biological safety procedures and for developing and practicing good personal hygiene habits.  They must:

d.         Institutional Biological Safety Committee

The Roosevelt University Biological Safety Committee (BSC) minimally consists of a Biological Safety Officer for each campus. Additional faculty members will be added to the committee as needed. The BSC fulfills the following roles:

The BSC has the responsibility for reviewing and approving all proposals, activities, and experiments involving an organism or product of an organism that presents a risk to humans (see “Approval of Use of Biohazardous Materials” below). BSC review is conducted in accordance with the guidance and requirements of National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and the Roosevelt University policies specified in the RU Biological Safety Manual. All PIs have an obligation to be closely familiar with health and safety guidelines applicable to their work and to adhere to them.

C.         Biosafety Definitions

  1.  Biohazards

"Biohazardous agent" means an agent that is biological in nature, capable of self-replication, and has the capacity to produce deleterious effects upon biological organisms. Biohazardous agents include, but are not limited to, bacteria; fungi; viruses; rickettsiae; chlamydia; prion, parasites; recombinant products; allergens; cultured human and animal cells and the potentially biohazardous agents these cells may contain; infected clinical specimens; tissue from experimental animals; plant viruses, bacteria and fungi; toxins; and other biohazardous agents as defined in laws, regulations or guidelines. “Biohazardous material” means any material that contains or has been contaminated by a biohazardous agent.

  1. Bloodborne Pathogens

All occupational exposure to blood or other potentially infectious materials is regulated under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Bloodborne Pathogens Standard, 29 CFR 1910.1030. Occupational exposure means reasonably anticipated skin, eye, mucous membrane, or parenteral contact with blood or other potentially infectious materials that may result from the performance of an employee's duties.

As defined in the standard, blood means human blood, human blood components, and products made from human blood. Other potentially infectious materials means the following human body fluids: semen, cell lines, vaginal secretions, cerebrospinal fluid, synovial fluid, pleural fluid, pericardial fluid, peritoneal fluid, amniotic fluid, saliva in dental procedures, any body fluid that is visibly contaminated with blood, and all body fluids in situations where it is difficult or impossible to differentiate between body fluids; any unfixed tissue or organ.

  1. Antigens

Antigens are substances that can induce a detectable immune response. Proteins are usually the most potent antigens. In order to be immunogenic, a substance must be recognized as "foreign". This is why reactions to human environmental proteins (e.g., skin scales) are rare. Airborne antigen exposure can result in allergic rhinitis, allergic asthma, or hypersensitive pneumonitis. Contact sensitizations include conjunctivitis, dermatitis, or hives. Occupational antigens may produce tolerable or easily treatable symptoms or may not be perceived as being related to work. Allergic reactions may be induced after less than one year to several years after initial exposure.

Hypersensitivity pneumonitis can occur after the inhalation of particles below the sizes of 2-3 microns. Sensitized individuals may subsequently respond to very low levels of environmental antigens. Bacteria, fungi, and protozoa can release antigens in a size range and concentration that can produce hypersensitivity pneumonitis. Intact bacteria and small fungus spores can penetrate the lower airways. In addition, soluble antigens from most organisms can become airborne when substrates on which they are growing are disturbed and cause sensitization. Examples of hypersensitivity pneumonitis include farmer's lung, furrier's lung, ventilation pneumonitis, and suberosis.

Allergic rhinitis and allergic asthma are often induced after several years of low exposure to some antigens. Once sensitized, people may respond only to relatively high levels of environmental antigen. Particle size is relatively unimportant as upper airway deposition allows antigens to diffuse slowly (often causing delayed symptoms) while small particle antigens may cause immediate reaction.

The most effective control measures to prevent allergies from developing in employees are to prevent or minimize exposures to potential allergens. The use of laboratory fume hoods and biological safety cabinets can serve as effective containment devices for allergens. Use of ventilation systems and filtration devices can act to keep exposures down. Good housekeeping (including wet methods), personal hygiene, and laboratory techniques can serve to keep dust from becoming airborne.  Use of dust/mist/fume respirators approved by National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), either single-use or with disposable filters, should be used where short, intermittent high exposures are otherwise unavoidable. There is a dose relationship that affects the rate of employees becoming sensitized, and once sensitized, the worker must essentially avoid exposure. Therefore, employing means to keep exposures low, even where no complaints have been made, can decrease the probability an employee will develop an allergic reaction in the future.

  1. Recombinant DNA

Recombinant DNA (rDNA) is either (i) DNA constructed in vitro from separate DNA segments that can replicate and/or express a biologically active polynucleotide or polypeptide in vivo, or (ii) synthetic DNA that has the potential of generating a hazardous product in vivo.

See section F below for classifications and guidelines for the use of rDNA.

D.          Biosafety Training

A comprehensive biological safety training program will ensure that all laboratory personnel who may come in contact with biohazardous materials will be trained in their safe use and handling.

  1. Documentation

The written Biological Safety Program will be available on the RU web site in 2011.

  1. Tutorials

A biological safety training PowerPoint study guide will be added to the RU Website in 2011.

  1. Just-in-Time Training

The specific health hazards related to the biohazardous agents used in the work area must be reviewed prior to beginning work with these agents. Measures employees can take to protect themselves from these hazards, including specific procedures, emergency procedures, and personal protective equipment to be used must be reviewed. Note: A “Certification of Hazard Assessment” should be posted in the work area identifying these hazards. This certification of hazard assessment should be reviewed at least annually and updated anytime a new task which presents a hazard is introduced into the lab.

  1. Regular Training Seminars

All Instructors and Teaching Assistants who will be using potentially infectious agents and biohazards must have training from the BSC, and refresh this training every two years. Biology teaching assistants must also complete the Environment, Health and Safety Committee training annually, and review the Chemical Hygiene Plan. Documentation: Training required by the Biological Safety Program should be documented using the form at the beginning of this publication. Group training can be documented by attaching an attendance sheet to the tear-out form. Copies of either form should be kept in each work area or department. Student training should be documented in the same fashion.

E.  Biohazardous Materials

1.         Approval for use of Biohazardous Materials

The Biological Safety Committee (BSC) has the responsibility for reviewing and approving all proposals, activities, and experiments involving an organism or product of an organism that presents a risk to humans. This includes, but is not limited to, work with potential pathogens, work with human clinical samples and primary cell lines and work with DNA from pathogenic organisms. In general, the use of infectious agents in instructional laboratories is discouraged, and the use of infectious agents from Biosafety Risk Groups 3 or 4 is not allowed.

Experiments involving human gene transfer, generation or crossing of transgenic animals and the use or generation of recombinant DNA (rDNA, plant or animal) must be registered with, reviewed and approved by the BSC, as mandated by the National Institutes of Health Recombinant DNA Guidelines. While certain rDNA protocols are exempt from the Guidelines, a determination of this exemption may only be made by the Chair of the BSC. Additionally, the BSC reviews work with potential animal or human pathogens, oncogenic viruses, and other potentially infectious agents. The BSC convenes as a group semi-annually or more frequently as needed to fulfill its responsibilities.

BSC review is conducted in accordance with the guidance and requirements of National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and the Roosevelt University policies specified in the RU Biological Safety Manual. All PIs and Instructors have an obligation to be closely familiar with health and safety guidelines applicable to their work and to adhere to them. All students or Teaching Assistants involved in such work must be adequately trained by the BSC and the supervising faculty member.

2.         Hazard Identification

a.        Labels

Laboratory Managers, Instructors, PIs and Supervisors must ensure labels on incoming containers of biohazardous agents are not removed or defaced. They must also ensure that laboratory containers of biohazardous agents are labeled. Laboratory containers, including bottles, flasks, sample vials, waste containers, etc., must be marked, labeled or coded in all cases. This will aid in preventing any confusion concerning agent identification. The label should be legible, dated, and should identify the owner of the agent. If codes, acronyms, formulae, or abbreviations are used, post a legend/key near the inside of the entrance to the room. Standard abbreviations and formulae should be used whenever possible.

b.        Laboratory, Storage and Waste Identification

Laboratories in which biohazardous materials are used shall be identified by placing the standard orange or red Biohazard symbol on all entrance doors; cold rooms, refrigerators, freezers or other places where biohazardous materials are stored shall be similarly labeled. All waste containers or receptacles used for biohazardous materials shall also have the standard biohazard symbol prominently displayed.

  1. Hazard Disposal

All biohazardous wastes must be disposed of in a safe and legal manner. In most cases this will consist of sterilization (usually by autoclaving). No biohazardous materials should go down the sinks or be placed in the trash or the glass disposal bins until they have be sterilized or appropriately decontaminated. All waste materials awaiting decontamination or sterilization must be labeled. See the Guidelines for specific materials below.

d.        Containment

The term "containment" is used in describing safe methods for managing biohazardous agents in the laboratory environment where they are being handled or maintained.

Primary containment, i.e., the protection of personnel and the immediate laboratory environment from exposure to biohazardous agents, is provided by good microbiological technique and the use of appropriate safety equipment. The most important element of containment is strict adherence to standard microbiological practices and techniques. Persons working with infectious agents or infected materials must be aware of potential hazards, and must be trained and proficient in the practices and techniques required for handling such material safely. The Instructor, PI or laboratory supervisor is responsible for providing or arranging for appropriate training of personnel. The use of vaccines may provide an increased level of personal protection.

Secondary containment, i.e., the protection of the environment external to the laboratory from exposure to biohazardous agents, is provided by a combination of facility design and operational practices. The purpose of containment is to reduce exposure of laboratory workers and other persons to, and prevent escape into the outside environment of, potentially biohazardous agents. The three elements of containment include laboratory practice and technique, safety equipment, and facility design.

F.  Safety Equipment: Primary Barriers

  1. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Safety equipment also includes items for personal protection such as gloves, coats, gowns, shoe covers, boots, respirators, face shields, and safety glasses. These personal protective devices are often used in combination with biological safety cabinets and other devices which contain the agents, animals, or materials being used. In some situations in which it is impractical to work in biological safety cabinets, personal protective devices may form the primary barrier between personnel and biohazardous materials. Examples of such activities include certain animal studies, animal necropsy, production activities, and activities relating to maintenance, service, or support of the laboratory facility. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), including gloves, must be used when using infectious agents from Biosafety Risk Group 2 or above.

  1. Biological Safety Cabinets

Safety equipment includes biological safety cabinets and a variety of enclosed containers. The biological safety cabinet is the principal device used to provide containment of aerosols generated by many microbiological procedures. Open-fronted Class II biological safety cabinets are partial containment cabinets that offer significant levels of protection to laboratory personnel and to the environment when used with good microbiological techniques. The gas-tight Class III biological safety cabinet provides the highest attainable level of protection to personnel and the environment.

Users of biohazardous agents must ensure fume hoods, biological safety cabinets, and other protective equipment are adjusted and functioning properly prior to initiating an activity requiring their use. Physical Facilities will ensure fume hood and biological safety cabinet performance is periodically evaluated and repairs are made when necessary. The Laboratory Manager will keep records of these tests and repairs.

  1. Safety Equipment: Secondary Barriers

The design of a facility is important in providing a barrier to protect those working inside and outside the laboratory and to protect people or animals in the community from infectious agents which may be accidentally released from the laboratory. Facilities must be commensurate with the laboratory's function and the recommended biosafety level for the agent being manipulated.

The secondary barrier(s) needed will depend on the risk of transmission of specific agents. Roosevelt University laboratory instruction and research generally involves only Biosafety Levels 1 and 2. Secondary barriers in these laboratories includes separation of the laboratory work area from public access (with lockable doors), availability of a decontamination facility (e.g., autoclave), handwashing facilities and eyewash stations. All laboratory surfaces should be easy to clean and decontaminate, without carpets. All benchtops should be impervious to water, heat-resistant and chemical-resistant. Adequate lighting, without glare, is necessary in all work areas.

G.  Routes, Infection, and Exposures

Exposure and subsequent infection of an individual with a biohazardous agent can occur by several routes, i.e., aerosol inhalation, splash, animal bites, sharps, and similar situations where direct contact can occur.

  1. Aerosols

Some of the laboratory operations which release a substantial number of droplets are almost trivial in nature, such as breaking bubbles on the surface of a culture as it is stirred, streaking a rough agar plate with a loop, a drop falling off the end of a pipette, inserting a hot loop into a culture, pulling a stopper or a cotton plug from a bottle or flask, taking a culture sample from a vaccine bottle, opening and closing a Petri dish in some applications, or opening a lyophilized culture, among many others. Most of these only take a second or so and are often repeated many times daily. Other more complicated procedures might be considered more likely to release organisms into the air, such as grinding tissue with a mortar and pestle, conducting an autopsy on a small animal, harvesting infected tissue from animals or eggs, intranasal inoculation of small animals, opening a blender too quickly, etc. The possibility of aerosol production should always be considered while working with infectious organisms.

  1. Contact

The control of potential exposure by the contact route requires that procedures be conducted in a manner that avoids contamination of body or work surfaces. This is accomplished through the use of gloves and other personal protective clothing, protection of work surfaces with appropriate absorbent disposable covering, use of care in the performance of procedures, and cleaning and disinfecting work surfaces. Procedures where exposure via direct contact may occur include: decanting of liquids, pipetting, removal of screw caps, vortex mixing of unsealed containers, streaking agar surfaces, and inoculation of animals. It should also be recognized that dispersal of contaminants to other surfaces can occur by their transfer on the gloves of the laboratory worker, by the placement of contaminated equipment or laboratory ware, and by the improper packaging of contaminated waste.

  1. Oral

Mouth pipetting is prohibited. Mechanical pipetting devices are required. Indirect oral exposures can be avoided through the use of the personal hygienic practice of regular hand washing, no eating or drinking in the work area, and by not placing any objects, including fingers and pens, into the mouth. The wearing of a N-95 dust and vapor mask or face shield will protect against the splashing of biohazardous material into the mouth.

  1. Splash

The wearing of a face shield, safety glasses, or goggles will protect workers against splashing biohazardous material into the eyes.

  1. Sharps

The single procedure that presents the greatest risk of exposure through inoculation is the use of a needle and syringe. These are used principally for the transfer of materials from diaphragm-stoppered containers and for the inoculation of animals. Their use in the transfer of materials from diaphragm-stoppered containers can, in addition, result in the dispersal of biohazardous material onto surfaces and into the air. Depending upon the route of inoculation of animals, the use of a needle and syringe may also result in the contamination of the body surfaces. Because of the imminent hazard of self-inoculation, the use of the needle and syringe should be limited to those procedures where there is no alternative, and then the procedure should be conducted with the greatest of care. Inoculation can also result from animal bites and scratches.

  1. Animal Exposure

Both research and non-research animals have the potential to cause injury, transmit zoonotic disease, and/or cause allergic reaction to those who have contact. These animal hazards can occur by either direct contact from handling an animal or just by being in close proximity, i.e., working or passing through an animal housing room. Understanding routes of disease transmission, disease or allergy signs and symptoms, personal protective equipment (PPE), waste handling, and emergency contacts is very important.

H.  Classifications of Biological Risks

  1. Risk Groups

Infectious agents may be classified into risk groups based on their relative hazard. The table below, which was excerpted from the NIH Recombinant DNA Guidelines, presents the "Basis for the Classification of Biohazardous Agents by Risk Group."

Risk Group 1


Agents that are not associated with disease in healthy adult humans

Risk Group 2


Agents that are associated with human disease which is rarely serious and for which preventive or therapeutic interventions are often available

Risk Group 3


Agents that are associated with serious or lethal human disease for which preventive or therapeutic interventions may be available (high individual risk but low community risk). Work with Risk Group 3 agents is discouraged at Roosevelt University, especially in teaching laboratories.

Risk Group 4


Agents that are likely to cause serious or lethal human disease for which preventive or therapeutic interventions are not usually available (high individual risk and high community risk). Work with Risk Group 4 agents is prohibited at Roosevelt University.

  1. Biosafety Levels

CDC describes four biosafety levels (BSLs) which consist of combinations of laboratory practices and techniques, safety equipment, and laboratory facilities. Each combination is specifically appropriate for the operations performed, the documented or suspected routes of transmission of the infectious agents, and for the laboratory function or activity. The recommended biosafety level for an organism represents the conditions under which the agent can be ordinarily handled safely. When specific information is available to suggest that virulence, pathogenicity, antibiotic resistance patterns, vaccine and treatment availability, or other factors are significantly altered, more (or less) stringent practices may be specified.

Biological Safety Level 1 (BSL-1) -- is appropriate for work done with defined and characterized strains of viable microorganisms not known to cause disease in healthy adult humans. It represents a basic level of containment that relies on standard microbiological practices with no special primary or secondary barriers recommended, other than a sink for hand washing.

Biological Safety Level 2 (BSL-2) -- is applicable to work done with a broad spectrum of indigenous moderate-risk agents present in the community and associated with human disease of varying severity. Agents can be used safely on the open bench, provided the potential for producing splashes or aerosols is low. Primary hazards to personnel working with these agents relate to accidental percutaneous or mucous membrane exposures or ingestion of infectious materials. Procedures with high aerosol or splash potential must be conducted in primary containment equipment such as biosafety cabinets. Primary barriers such as splash shields, face protection, gowns and gloves should be used as appropriate. Secondary barriers such as hand washing and waste decontamination facilities must be available.

Biological Safety Level 3 (BSL-3) -- is applicable to work done with indigenous or exotic agents with a potential for respiratory transmission and which may cause serious and potentially lethal infection. BSL-3 work IS DISCOURAGED at Roosevelt University, especially in teaching laboratories. Primary hazards to personnel working with these agents (i.e., Mycobacterium tuberculosis, St. Louis encephalitis virus and Coxiella burnetii) include auto-inoculation, ingestion and exposure to infectious aerosols. Greater emphasis is placed on primary and secondary barriers to protect personnel in adjoining areas, the community and the environment from exposure to infectious aerosols. For example, all laboratory manipulations should be performed in a biological safety cabinet or other enclosed equipment. Secondary barriers include controlled access to the laboratory and a specialized ventilation system that minimizes the release of infectious aerosols from the laboratory.

Biological Safety Level 4 (BSL-4) -- is applicable for work with dangerous and exotic agents that pose a high individual risk of life-threatening disease, which may be transmitted via the aerosol route and for which there is no available vaccine or therapy. All BSL-4 work IS PROHIBITED at Roosevelt University. Agents with close or identical antigenic relationship to Biosafety Level 4 agents should also be handled at this level. Primary hazards to workers include respiratory exposure to infectious aerosols, mucous membrane exposure to infectious droplets and auto-inoculation. All manipulations of potentially infected materials and isolates pose a high risk of exposure and infection to personnel, the community and the environment. Isolation of aerosolized infectious materials is accomplished primarily by working in a Class III biological safety cabinet or a full-body, air-supplied positive pressure personnel suit. The facility is generally a separate building or a completely isolated zone within a complex with specialized ventilation and waste management systems to prevent release of viable agents to the environment.

  1. Vertebrate Animal Biosafety Levels

There are four animal biosafety levels (ABSLs), designated Animal Biosafety Level 1 through 4, for work with infectious agents in mammals. The levels are combinations of practices, safety equipment and facilities for experiments on animals infected with agents that produce or may produce human infection. In general, the biosafety level recommended for working with an infectious agent in vivo and in vitro is comparable.

Animal Biological Safety Level 1 (ABSL-1) -- is suitable for work involving well characterized agents that are not known to cause disease in healthy adult humans, and that are of minimal potential hazard to laboratory personnel and the environment.

Animal Biological Safety Level 2 (ABSL-2) -- is suitable for work with those agents associated with human disease. It addresses hazards from ingestion as well as from percutaneous and mucous membrane exposure.

Animal Biological Safety Level 3 (ABSL-3) -- is suitable for work with animals infected with indigenous or exotic agents that present the potential of aerosol transmission and of causing serious or potentially lethal disease. ABSL-3 work IS DISCOURAGED at Roosevelt University, especially in teaching laboratories.

Animal Biological Safety Level 4 (ABSL-4) -- is suitable for addressing dangerous and exotic agents that pose high risk of like threatening disease, aerosol transmission, or related agents with unknown risk of transmission. All ABSL-4 work IS PROHIBITED at Roosevelt University.

Complete descriptions of all Biosafety Levels and Animal Biosafety Levels are outlined in the 4th edition of Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories published by the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services (CDC/NIH).

  1. Risk Assessment

It is the responsibility of the principal investigator or laboratory director to conduct a risk assessment to determine the proper work practices and containment requirements for work with biohazardous material. The risk assessment process should identify features of microorganisms as well as host and environmental factors that influence the potential for workers to have a biohazard exposure. This responsibility cannot be shifted to inexperienced or untrained personnel.

The principal investigator or laboratory director should consult with a Biological Safety Officers to ensure that the laboratory is in compliance with established guidelines and regulations. When performing a risk assessment, it is advisable to take a conservative approach if there is incomplete information available. Factors to consider when evaluating risk include the following:


The more severe the potentially acquired disease, the higher the risk. Salmonella, a Risk Group 2 agent, can cause diarrhea, septicemia if ingested. Treatment is available. Viruses such as Ebola, Marburg, and Lassa fever cause diseases with high mortality rates. There are no vaccines or treatment available. These agents belong to Risk Group 4.

Route of transmission

Agents that can be transmitted by the aerosol route have been known to cause the most laboratory-acquired infections. The greater the aerosol potential, the higher the risk of infection. Work with Mycobacterium tuberculosis is performed at Biosafety Level 3 because disease is acquired via the aerosol route.

Agent stability

The greater the potential for an agent to survive in the environment, the higher the risk of potential infection.  Consider factors such as desiccation, exposure to sunlight or ultraviolet light, or exposure to chemical disinfections when looking at the stability of an agent.

Infectious dose

Consider the amount of an infectious agent needed to cause infection in a normal person. An infectious dose can vary from one to hundreds of thousands of organisms or infectious units. An individual’s immune status can also influence the infectious dose.


Consider whether the organisms are in solid tissue, viscous blood, sputum, etc., the volume of the material and the laboratory work planned (amplification of the material, sonication, centrifugation, etc.). In most instances, the risk increases as the concentration of microorganisms increases.


This may refer to the geographic location (domestic or foreign), host (infected or uninfected human or animal), or nature of the source (potential zoonotic or associated with a disease outbreak).

Availability of data from animal studies

If human data is not available, information on the pathogenicity, infectivity, and route of exposure from animal studies may be valuable. Use caution when translating infectivity data from one species to another.

Availability of an effective prophylaxis or therapeutic intervention

Effective vaccines, if available, should be offered to laboratory personnel in advance of their handling of infectious material. However, immunization does not replace engineering controls, proper practices and procedures and the use of personal protective equipment (PPE). The availability of post-exposure prophylaxis should also be considered.

Medical surveillance

Medical surveillance programs may include monitoring employee health status, participating in post-exposure management, employee counseling prior to offering vaccination, and annual physicals.

Experience and skill level of at-risk personnel

Laboratory workers must become proficient in specific tasks prior to working with microorganisms. Laboratory workers may have to work with non-infectious materials to ensure they have the appropriate skill level prior to working with biohazardous materials. Laboratory workers may have to go through additional training (e.g., HIV training, BSL-3 training, etc.) before they are allowed to work with materials or in a designated facility.

Refer to the following resources to assist in your risk assessment:

NIH Recombinant DNA Guidelines

WHO Biosafety Manual

Biosafety in Microbiological & Biomedical Laboratories, 5th ed. (CDC/NIH)

I.  Standard Biosafety Practices

Biosafety Level 1

Biosafety Level 1 is suitable for experiments involving agents of no known or minimal potential hazard to laboratory personnel and the environment. The laboratory is not separated from the general traffic patterns of the building. Work is generally conducted on open bench tops. Special containment equipment is not required or generally used. Laboratory personnel have specific training in the procedures conducted in the laboratory and are supervised by a scientist with general training in microbiology or a related science. The following standard and special practices apply to agents assigned to Biosafety Level 1:

  1. Standard Microbiological Practices

b.        Special Practices

c.        Containment Equipment

Special containment equipment is generally not required for manipulations of agents assigned to Biosafety Level 1.

d.        Laboratory Facilities

Biosafety Level 2

Biosafety Level 2 is similar to Level 1 and is suitable for work involving agents that represent a moderate hazard for personnel and the environment. It differs in that: Laboratory personnel have specific training in handling pathogenic agents and are directed by the principle investigator; Access to the laboratory is limited when work is being conducted; and Certain procedures in which biohazardous aerosols are created need to be conducted in biological safety cabinets or other physical containment equipment. The following standard and special practices, safety equipment, and facilities apply to agents assigned to Biosafety Level 2:

a.        Standard Microbiological Practices

b.        Special Practices

c.        Containment equipment

d.        Laboratory facilities

Biosafety Level 3

Biosafety Level 3 is suitable for experiments involving agents of high potential risk to personnel and the environment. BSL-3 work is discouraged at Roosevelt University, especially in teaching laboratories. Laboratory personnel must have specific training in handling pathogenic and potentially lethal agents and must be supervised by competent scientists who are experienced in working with these agents. Access to the laboratory is controlled by the supervisor. The laboratory must have special engineering and design features and physical containment equipment and devices. All procedures involving the manipulation of biohazardous material are conducted within biological safety cabinets or other physical containment devices or by personnel wearing appropriate personal protective clothing and devices. The following standard and special practices apply to agents assigned to Biosafety Level 3:

a.        Standard microbiological practices

b.        Special practices

c.        Biosafety equipment

d.        Laboratory facilities

Animal Biosafety Level 1

a.        Standard practices

b.        Special practice

c.        Biosafety equipment

Special containment equipment is generally not required for animals infected with agents assigned to Biosafety Level 1.

d.        Animal facilities

Animal Safety Level 2

a.        Standard practices

b.        Special practices

c.        Containment equipment

Biological safety cabinets (Class II), other physical-containment devices, and/or personal protection devices (e.g., respirators, face shields) are used when procedures with a high potential for creating aerosols are conducted. These include necropsy of infected animals, harvesting of infected tissues or fluid from animals or eggs, intranasal inoculation of animals, and manipulation of high concentrations or large volumes of biohazardous materials.

d.        Animal facilities

Animal Safety Level 3

ABSL-3 work is discouraged at Roosevelt University, especially in teaching laboratories.

a.        Standard practices

b.        Special practices

c.        Containment equipment

d.        Animal facilities

J.  Recombinant DNA (rDNA)

Biosafety containment mechanisms applicable to organisms carrying recombinant DNA include: (i) a set of standard practices that are generally used in microbiological laboratories; and (ii) special procedures, equipment, and laboratory installations that provide physical barriers that are applied in varying degrees according to the estimated biohazard. In addition, experiments involving recombinant DNA lend themselves to a third containment mechanism, namely, the application of highly specific biological barriers.  These include natural barriers that limit either the infectivity of a vector or vehicle (plasmid or virus) for specific hosts, or its dissemination and survival in the environment.  Vectors, which provide the means for recombinant DNA and/or host cell replication, can be genetically designed to decrease, by many orders of magnitude, the probability of dissemination of recombinant DNA outside the laboratory.

The first principle of containment is strict adherence to good microbiological practices.  Consequently, all personnel directly or indirectly involved in experiments using recombinant DNA shall receive adequate instruction.  At a minimum, these instructions include training in aseptic techniques and in the biology of the organisms used in the experiments so that the potential biohazards can be understood and appreciated. Any research group working with agents that are known or potential biohazards shall have an emergency plan that describes the procedures to be followed if an accident contaminates personnel or the environment.  The Principal Investigator shall ensure that everyone in the laboratory is familiar with both the potential hazards of the work and the emergency plan.  

Guidelines for the use of recombinant DNA in teaching and research applications are defined by the National Institutes of Health (“The NIH Guidelines”).  The NIH OBA (Office of Biotechnology Activities) is an administrative arm responsible for carrying out the orders of the NIH Director with regard to recombinant DNA, genetic testing and xenotransplantation. An advisory committee is involved in establishing policies for each of these fields. For recombinant DNA the committee is called the Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee or "RAC".  The NIH Guidelines classify uses of recombinant DNA according to the same risk assessment system used for other biohazards, namely four Risk Groups and four Biosafety Levels.  The use of protective equipment, laboratory techniques and materials disposal and handling will be consistent with these Biosafety Levels.

The full NIH Guidelines may be found at:

Classification of Experiments Involving Recombinant DNA

The NIH requires all labs working with recombinant DNA register with the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC). The guidelines distinguish among five kinds of registrations. The type depends on the potential hazard of the work. More hazardous means more approvals are needed. The five types are:

In the laboratories at Roosevelt University, most use of recombinant DNA will be exempt from the NIH Guidelines.  The sections below, all excerpted from these guidelines, describe the last three categories in detail.

“WAIT” (IBC approval needed before starting work with rDNA)

Studies in this category must be examined by IBC with an eye to recommending safe procedures and containment. The NIH Guidelines lists a number of rDNA types according to their Risk Group. In general, the Risk Group determines the Biosafety Level needed: for instance a Risk Group 2 agent is usually studied in a BL2 or BL3-N (animal) lab. rDNA work above BL1 can only be conducted at Roosevelt University with approval by the IBC.

Some examples of work with recombinant DNA and organisms requiring IBC review include:

“NO WAITING” (investigators should notify IBC before work starts)

Notification is necessary because must register all recombinant DNA studies must be registered with IBC and adhere to standards of containment.  This category includes work conducted with “LOW HAZARD” rDNA:

“NO WAITING PLUS” (exempt rDNA work in registered labs)

“Exempt” from NIH guidelines means that work with these constructs need not be approved by IBC. However, the Roosevelt University IBC will keep records of all laboratory use of rDNA, both exempt and non-exempt. Thus it is university policy to insist that instructors and researchers using any recombinant DNA register with IBC. This work can be done at BL1.

Some exempt classes of DNA include:

K.         General Biological Laboratory Practices

  1. Housekeeping

Good housekeeping in laboratories is essential to reduce risks and protect the integrity of biological experiments. Routine housekeeping must be relied upon to provide work areas free of significant sources of contamination. Housekeeping procedures should be based on the highest degree of risk to which personnel and experimental integrity may be subjected.

Laboratory personnel are responsible for cleaning laboratory benches, equipment and areas that require specialized technical knowledge. Additional laboratory housekeeping concerns include:

All laboratory equipment needs to be cleaned and certified of being free of hazards before being released for repair or maintenance.

  1. Pipets and Pipet Aids

Mouth pipetting is strictly prohibited. Mechanical pipetting aids must be used. Confine pipetting of biohazardous or toxic fluids to a biosafety cabinet if possible. If pipetting is done on the open bench, use absorbent pads or paper on the bench. Use the precautions on the next page.

  1. Syringes and Needles

Syringes and hypodermic needles are dangerous objects that need to be handled with extreme caution to avoid accidental injection and aerosol generation. Generally, the use of syringes and needles should be restricted to procedures for which there is no alternative. Do not use a syringe and needle as a substitute for a pipette.  Use needle locking syringes or disposable syringe-needle units in which the needle is an integral part of the syringe.


When using syringes and needles with biohazardous or potentially infectious agents:

Needles should not be bent, sheared, replaced in the sheath or guard (capped), or removed from the syringe following use. If it is essential that a contaminated needle be recapped or removed from a syringe, the use of a mechanical device or the one-handed scoop method must be used. Always dispose of needle and syringe unit promptly into an approved sharps container.

Do not fill sharps containers more that 2/3 full. Contact the Laboratory Manager for pick-up.

  1. Loop Sterilizers and Bunsen Burners

Sterilization of inoculating loops or needles in an open flame generates small particle aerosols which may contain viable microorganisms. The use of a shielded electric incinerator or hot bead sterilizers minimizes aerosol production during loop sterilization. Alternatively, disposable plastic loops and needles may be used for culture work where electric incinerators or gas flames are not available or recommended.

  1. Centrifuge Equipment

Hazards associated with centrifuging include mechanical failure and the creation of aerosols. To minimize the risk of mechanical failure, centrifuges must be maintained and used according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Users should be properly trained and operating instructions including safety precautions should be prominently posted on the unit.

Aerosols are created by practices such as filling centrifuge tubes, removing supernatant, and suspending sediment pellets. The greatest aerosol hazard is created if a tube breaks during centrifugation. To minimize the generation of aerosols when centrifuging biohazardous material, the following procedures should be followed:

  1. Blenders, Ultrasonic Disrupters, Grinders and Lyophilizers

The use of any of these devices results in considerable aerosol production. Blending, cell-disrupting and grinding equipment should be used in a BSC when working with biohazardous materials. Safety blenders, although expensive, are designed to prevent leakage from the bottom of the blender jar, provide a cooling jacket to avoid biological inactivation, and to withstand sterilization by autoclaving. If blender rotors are not leak-proof, they should be tested with sterile saline or dye solution prior to use with biohazardous material. The use of glass blender jars is not recommended because of the breakage potential. If they must be used, glass jars should be covered with a polypropylene jar to prevent spraying of glass and contents in the event the blender jar breaks. A towel moistened with disinfectant should be placed over the top of the blender during use. Before opening the blender jar, allow the unit to rest for at least one minute to allow the aerosol to settle. The device should be decontaminated promptly after use.

  1. Lyophilizers and Ampoules

Depending on lyophilizer design, aerosol production may occur when material is loaded or removed from the lyophilizer unit. If possible, sample material should be loaded in a BSC. The vacuum pump exhaust should be filtered to remove any hazardous agents or, alternatively, the pump can be vented into a Biological Safety Cabinet. After lyophilization is completed, all surfaces of the unit that have been exposed to the agent should be disinfected. If the lyophilizer is equipped with a removable chamber, it should be closed off and moved to a Biological Safety Cabinet for unloading and decontamination. Handling of cultures should be minimized and vapor traps should be used wherever possible.

Opening ampoules containing liquid or lyophilized infectious culture material should be performed in a BSC to control the aerosol produced. Gloves must be worn. To open, nick the neck of the ampoule with a file, wrap it in disinfectant soaked towel, hold the ampoule upright and snap it open at the nick. Reconstitute the contents of the ampoule by slowly adding liquid to avoid making an aerosol of the dried material. Mix the container. Discard the towel and ampoule top and bottom as biohazardous waste. Ampoules used to store biohazardous material in liquid nitrogen have exploded causing eye injuries and exposure to the infectious agent. The use of polypropylene tubes eliminates this hazard. These tubes are available dust free or pre-sterilized and are fitted with polyethylene caps with silicone washers. Heat seal able polypropylene tubes are also available.

  1. Laundry

All personal protective clothing should be either discarded in the lab or laundered by the university at no cost to employees. Apparel contaminated with human blood or other potentially infectious materials should be handled as little as possible and needs to be collected in biohazard bags. Appropriate PPE must be worn by employees who handle contaminated laundry.

9.        Decontamination and Disposal





materials are handled should be disinfected as often as deemed necessary by the supervisor. After completion of operations involving plating, pipetting, centrifuging, and similar procedures with biohazardous materials, the surroundings should be disinfected.

10. Sterilization Procedure

General criteria for sterilization of typical materials are presented below. It is advisable to review the type of materials being handled and to establish standard conditions for sterilization.

Treatment conditions to achieve sterility will vary in relation to the volume of material treated, its contamination level, the moisture content, and other factors.

An autoclave that uses saturated steam under pressure has over the years become the generally-accepted method for inactivation of all microbes. Operational standards require that the autoclave reach a temperature of not less than 121 °C (250 °F) for 30 minutes at 15 pounds per square inch pressure; or in accordance with manufacturer’s directions. A variety of factors can affect the efficiency of an autoclave, therefore, when treating biohazardous wastes, it is recommended that 115 °C be reached and maintained for a minimum of 20 minutes within the waste itself. Biohazard waste that has been autoclaved within these standards is considered to be no longer biohazardous and is considered solid waste for disposal purposes.

It is the responsibility of the principal investigator for each lab that uses an autoclave to develop lab specific procedures for each material and autoclave/steam sterilizer for which they are responsible. The procedure must address each of the following:


This standard operating procedure (SOP) outlines the elements that should be considered and included as appropriate in lab specific autoclave procedures. This lab procedure should also include a means to ensure that training, recordkeeping, and testing is conducted for each autoclave in their labs or used by their lab personnel. All personnel using autoclaves must be adequately trained by their PI or lab manager. Never allow untrained personnel to operate an autoclave.

Each individual working with biohazardous materials is responsible for its proper disposition.

a.        Steam Autoclave

b.        Recommended standard practices for using an autoclave are:

Do not use:

If you're unsure about a new container, place it in an autoclave-safe container the first time.

c.        Gas Sterilants

d.        Disinfectants

However, they are not active against bacterial spores at the usual concentrations (1:750).

L.        Disposal Procedures

Biohazardous waste disposal must be handled in accordance with procedures established by the BSC. Contact the Laboratory Manager for specific information on disposal procedures. These procedures include Universal Precautions, sterilization and disinfection, containment, storage, training, and record keeping.

1.        Sharps Handling Procedures

Sharps are items that are capable of puncturing, cutting, or abrading the skin, i.e., broken plastic or broken glassware, glass or plastic pipettes, scalpels, razor blades, needles, hypodermic needles, etc…

a.        Do not place any sharps into the regular trash.

b.        Needles and razor blades must be disposed of in puncture proof plastic containers.

c.        Clean broken glass should be collected in a cardboard box or other strong, secure disposable container. When you want the box removed, tape it shut and label it “SHARP OBJECTS/GLASS - DISCARD”. It is prudent to affix a “safe for disposal” sticker to the box as well.

d.        Sharps and/or materials contaminated with human blood or blood products, or with any agent capable of being infectious to humans, must be treated and disposed of as “category 1” infectious waste. This includes:

“Category 2” items have the general appearance of infectious or medical waste, but do not otherwise fit the category 1 description. These are also known as look-alike infectious waste, and will be removed by the Laboratory Manager along with the infectious waste.

e.  Chemically contaminated sharps must be decontaminated with a suitable cleaning agent.

If You Are Injured From a Sharp:

M.        Spills of Biohazardous Materials Procedures

Plan in advance for an emergency. For example, what supplies and equipment should you maintain in your area to assist you in the event of an accidental spill, e.g., personal protective equipment, disinfecting solutions, spill control materials? What training do you need to handle an emergency in your area? What information can be made available to an emergency response team?

A minimally biohazardous material that is spilled without generating significant aerosols may be cleaned up with a paper towel soaked in an effective decontaminating agent. A spill of a large volume of biohazardous material with the generation of aerosols will require cleanup personnel wearing protective clothing and respiratory protection. With M. tuberculosis, for example, the risk of exposure from the spill of a small quantity might be many times that of a much larger spill of E. coli. Therefore, if the agent is known, the recommended procedure and protective equipment should be used.

1.        Basic Biological Spill Kit

Disinfectant (e.g., bleach 1:10 dilution, prepared fresh, or other suitable disinfectant)

Absorbent Material (e.g., paper towels, spill pillows)

Waste Container (e.g., biohazard bags, sharps containers)

Personal Protective Equipment (e.g., lab coat, gloves, eye and face protection)

Mechanical Tools (e.g., forceps, dustpan and broom)

  1. Spill Cleanup Procedures

a.        Spilled agents requiring Biosafety Level 1

b.        Spilled agents requiring Biosafety Level 2 or higher

Note: the BSC or the Laboratory Manager should be consulted before cleanup is started to ensure that proper techniques will be employed.

3. Biohazardous Material Spills in a Biological Safety Cabinet

  1. Initiate cleanup at once, while the cabinet continues to operate, using an appropriate disinfectant. Avoid the use of organic solvents (alcohols).
  1. Prevent the generation and escape of aerosols and contaminants from the cabinet during decontamination.
  2. Formaldehyde gas decontamination can be used for final decontamination.


A.  Electrically-Powered Laboratory Apparatuses

Electrically powered equipment, such as hot plates, stirrers, vacuum pumps, electrophoresis apparatuses, lasers, heating mantles, ultrasonicators, power supplies, and microwave ovens are essential elements of many labs. These devices can pose a significant hazard to laboratory workers, particularly when mishandled or not maintained. Many laboratory electrical devices have high voltage or high power requirements, carrying even more risk. Large capacitors found in many laser flash lamps and other systems are capable of storing lethal amounts of electrical energy and pose a serious danger even if the power source has been disconnected.

Electrical Hazards

The major hazards associated with electricity are electrical shock and fire. Electrical shock occurs when the body becomes part of the electric circuit, either when an individual comes in contact with both wires of an electrical circuit, one wire of an energized circuit and the ground, or a metallic part that has become energized by contact with an electrical conductor.

The severity and effects of an electrical shock depend on a number of factors, such as the pathway through the body, the amount of current, the length of time of the exposure, and whether the skin is wet or dry. Water is a great conductor of electricity, allowing current to flow more easily in wet conditions and through wet skin. The effect of the shock may range from a slight tingle to severe burns to cardiac arrest. The chart below shows the general relationship between the degree of injury and amount of current for a 60-cycle hand-to-foot path of one second's duration of shock. While reading this chart, keep in mind that most electrical circuits can provide, under normal conditions, up to 20,000 milliamperes of current flow.

Current (mA)



Perception level


Slight shock felt; not painful but disturbing


Painful shock; "let-go" range


Extreme pain, respiratory arrest, severe muscular contraction


Ventricular fibrillation


Cardiac arrest, severe burns and probable death

In addition to the electrical shock hazards, sparks from electrical equipment can serve as an ignition source for flammable or explosive vapors or combustible materials.

Power Loss

Loss of electrical power can create hazardous situations. Flammable or toxic vapors may be released as a chemical warms when a refrigerator or freezer fails. Fume hoods may cease to operate, allowing vapors to be released into the laboratory. If magnetic or mechanical stirrers fail to operate, safe mixing of reagents may be compromised.

Preventing Electrical Hazards 

There are various ways of protecting people from the hazards caused by electricity, including insulation, guarding, grounding, and electrical protective devices. Laboratory workers can significantly reduce electrical hazards by following some basic precautions:


All electrical cords should have sufficient insulation to prevent direct contact with wires. In a laboratory, it is particularly important to check all cords before each use, since corrosive chemicals or solvents may erode the insulation.

Damaged cords should be repaired or taken out of service immediately, especially in wet environments such as cold rooms and near water baths.


Live parts of electric equipment operating at 50 volts or more, such as electrophoresis devices, must be guarded against accidental contact.  Plexiglas shields may be used to protect against exposed live parts.


Only equipment with three-prong plugs should be used in the laboratory. The third prong provides a path to ground for internal electrical short circuits, thereby protecting the user from a potential electrical shock.

Circuit Protection Devices

Circuit protection devices are designed to automatically limit or shut off the flow of electricity in the event of a ground-fault, overload or short circuit in the wiring system. Ground-fault circuit interrupters, circuit breakers and fuses are three well-known examples of such devices.

Fuses and circuit breakers prevent over-heating of wires and components that might otherwise create fire hazards. They disconnect the circuit when it becomes overloaded. This overload protection is very useful for equipment that is left on for extended periods of time, such as stirrers, vacuum pumps, drying ovens, Variacs and other electrical equipment.

The ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) is designed to shutoff electric power if a ground fault is detected, protecting the user from a potential electrical shock.  The GFCI is particularly useful near sinks and wet locations.  Since GFCIs can cause equipment to shutdown unexpectedly, they may not be appropriate for certain apparatus.  Portable GFCI adapters (available in most safety supply catalogs) may be used with a non-GFCI outlet.


In laboratories where volatile flammable materials are used, motor-driven electrical equipment should be equipped with non-sparking induction motors or air motors.  These motors must meet National Electric Safety Code (US DOC, 1993) Class 1, Division 2, Group C-D explosion resistance specifications. Many stirrers, Variacs, outlet strips, ovens, heat tape, hot plates and heat guns do not conform to these code requirements.

Avoid series-wound motors, such as those generally found in some vacuum pumps, rotary evaporators and stirrers. Series-wound motors are also usually found in household appliances such as blenders, mixers, vacuum cleaners and power drills. These appliances should not be used unless flammable vapors are adequately controlled.

Although some newer equipment have spark-free induction motors, the on-off switches and speed controls may be able to produce a spark when they are adjusted because they have exposed contacts. One solution is to remove any switches located on the device and insert a switch on the cord near the plug end.

Safe Work Practices

The following practices may reduce risk of injury or fire when working with electrical equipment:

High Voltage or Current

Repairs of high voltage or high current equipment should be performed only by trained electricians.

Altering Building Wiring and Utilities

Any modifications to existing electrical service in a laboratory or building must be completed or approved by either the building facility manager, an engineer from the Facilities department or the building's Special Facilities staff. All modifications must meet both safety standards and Facilities Engineering design requirements.

Any unapproved laboratory facilities modifications discovered during laboratory surveys or other activities are reviewed by EHS and facility staff to determine whether they meet design specifications.

Stirring and Mixing Devices

The stirring and mixing devices commonly found in laboratories include stirring motors, magnetic stirrers, shakers, small pumps for fluids and rotary evaporators for solvent removal. These devices are typically used in laboratory operations that are performed in a hood, and it is important that they be operated in a way that precludes the generation of electrical sparks.

Only spark-free induction motors should be used in power stirring and mixing devices or any other rotating equipment used for laboratory operations. While the motors in most of the currently marketed stirring and mixing devices meet this criterion, their on-off switches and rheostat-type speed controls can produce an electrical spark because they have exposed electrical conductors. The speed of an induction motor operating under a load should not be controlled by a variable autotransformer. 

Because stirring and mixing devices, especially stirring motors and magnetic stirrers, are often operated for fairly long periods without constant attention, the consequences of stirrer failure, electrical overload or blockage of the motion of the stirring impeller should be considered.


Human exposure to ultrasound with frequencies between 16 and 100 kilohertz (kHz) can be divided into three distinct categories: airborne conduction, direct contact through a liquid coupling medium, and direct contact with a vibrating solid.

Ultrasound through airborne conduction does not appear to pose a significant health hazard to humans. However, exposure to the associated high volumes of audible sound can produce a variety of effects, including fatigue, headaches, nausea and tinnitus. When ultrasonic equipment is operated in the laboratory, the apparatus must be enclosed in a 2-cm thick wooden box or in a box lined with acoustically absorbing foam or tiles to substantially reduce acoustic emissions (most of which are inaudible). 

Direct contact of the body with liquids or solids subjected to high-intensity ultrasound of the sort used to promote chemical reactions should be avoided. Under sonochemical conditions, cavitation is created in liquids, and it can induce high-energy chemistry in liquids and tissues. Cell death from membrane disruption can occur even at relatively low acoustic intensities. 

Exposure to ultrasonically vibrating solids, such as an acoustic horn, can lead to rapid frictional heating and potentially severe burns. 


Centrifuges should be properly installed and must be operated only by trained personnel. It is important that the load is balanced each time the centrifuge is used and that the lid is closed while the rotor is in motion. The disconnect switch must be working properly to shut off the equipment when the top is opened, and the manufacturer’s instructions for safe operating speeds must be followed.

For flammable and/or hazardous materials, the centrifuge should be under negative pressure to a suitable exhaust system. 

Electrophoresis Devices

Precautions to prevent electric shock must be followed when conducting procedures involving electrophoresis. Lethal electric shock can result when operating at high voltages such as in DNA sequencing or low voltages such as in agarose gel electrophoresis (e.g., 100 volts at 25 milliamps).These general guidelines should be followed:

B.  Low Temperature Procedures

Cryogenic liquids have boiling points less than -73ºC (-100ºF). Liquid nitrogen, liquid oxygen and carbon dioxide are the most common cryogenic materials used in the laboratory. Hazards may include fire, explosion, embrittlement, pressure buildup, frostbite and asphyxiation.

Many of the safety precautions observed for compressed gases also apply to cryogenic liquids. Two additional hazards are created from the unique properties of cryogenic liquids:

Extremely Low Temperatures 

The cold boil-off vapor of cryogenic liquids rapidly freezes human tissue. Most metals become stronger upon exposure to cold temperatures, but materials such as carbon steel, plastics and rubber become brittle or even fracture under stress at these temperatures. Proper material selection is important. Cold burns and frostbite caused by cryogenic liquids can result in extensive tissue damage.


All cryogenic liquids produce large volumes of gas when they vaporize. Liquid nitrogen will expand 696 times as it vaporizes. The expansion ratio of argon is 847:1, hydrogen is 851:1 and oxygen is 862:1. If these liquids vaporize in a sealed container, they can produce enormous pressures that could rupture the vessel.  For this reason, pressurized cryogenic containers are usually protected with multiple pressure relief devices.

Vaporization of cryogenic liquids (except oxygen) in an enclosed area can cause asphyxiation. Vaporization of liquid oxygen can produce an oxygen-rich atmosphere, which will support and accelerate the combustion of other materials. Vaporization of liquid hydrogen can form an extremely flammable mixture with air.

Handling Cryogenic Liquids 

Most cryogenic liquids are odorless, colorless, and tasteless when vaporized. When cryogenic liquids are exposed to the atmosphere, the cold boil-off gases condense the moisture in the air, creating a highly visible fog.

Protective Clothing 

Face shields worn with safety glasses or chemical splash goggles are recommended during transfer and handling of cryogenic liquids.

Wear loose fitting, dry, insulated cryogenic gloves when handling objects that come into contact with cryogenic liquids and vapor. Trousers should be worn on the outside of boots or work shoes.

Cooling Baths and Dry Ice 

Liquid Nitrogen Cooled Traps

Traps that open to the atmosphere condense liquid air rapidly. If you close the system, pressure builds up with enough force to shatter glass equipment. Therefore, only sealed or evacuated equipment should use liquid nitrogen cooled traps.

C.  High Temperature Procedures

Most labs use at least one type of heating device, such as ovens, hot plates, heating mantles and tapes, oil baths, salt baths, sand baths, air baths, hot-tube furnaces, hot-air guns and microwave ovens. Steam-heated devices are generally preferred whenever temperatures of 100o C or less are required because they do not present shock or spark risks and can be left unattended with assurance that their temperature will never exceed 100o C. Ensure the supply of water for steam generation is sufficient prior to leaving the reaction for any extended period of time.

A number of general precautions need to be taken when working with heating devices in the laboratory. When working with heating devices, consider the following: 

Fail-safe devices can prevent fires or explosions that may arise if the temperature of a reaction increases significantly because of a change in line voltage, the accidental loss of reaction solvent or loss of cooling. Some devices will turn off the electric power if the temperature of the heating device exceeds some preset limit or if the flow of cooling water through a condenser is stopped owing to the loss of water pressure or loosening of the water supply hose to a condenser. 


The use of an autoclave is a very effective way to decontaminate infectious waste. Autoclaves work by killing microbes with superheated steam. The following are recommended guidelines when using an autoclave: 


Electrically heated ovens are commonly used in the laboratory to remove water or other solvents from chemical samples and to dry laboratory glassware. Never use laboratory ovens for human food preparation.

Hot Plates

Laboratory hot plates are normally used for heating solutions to 100o C or above when inherently safer steam baths cannot be used. Any newly purchased hot plates should be designed in a way that avoids electrical sparks. However, many older hot plates pose an electrical spark hazard arising from either the on-off switch located on the hot plate, the bimetallic thermostat used to regulate the temperature or both. Laboratory workers should be warned of the spark hazard associated with older hot plates.

In addition to the spark hazard, old and corroded bimetallic thermostats in these devices can eventually fuse shut and deliver full, continuous current to a hot plate. 

Heating Mantles

Heating mantles are commonly used for heating round-bottomed flasks, reaction kettles and related reaction vessels. These mantles enclose a heating element in a series of layers of fiberglass cloth. As long as the fiberglass coating is not worn or broken, and as long as no water or other chemicals are spilled into the mantle, heating mantles pose no shock hazard.

Heat Guns

Laboratory heat guns are constructed with a motor-driven fan that blows air over an electrically heated filament. They are frequently used to dry glassware or to heat the upper parts of a distillation apparatus during distillation of high-boiling materials.

The heating element in a heat gun typically becomes red-hot during use and the on-off switches and fan motors are not usually spark-free. For these reasons, heat guns almost always pose a serious spark hazard.

Household hair dryers may be substituted for laboratory heat guns only if they have a grounded plug or are double insulated.

Microwave Ovens

Microwave ovens used in the laboratory may pose several different types of hazards.

To minimize the risk of these hazards, 

Oil, Salt and Sand Baths

Electrically heated oil baths are often used to heat small or irregularly shaped vessels or when a stable heat source that can be maintained at a constant temperature is desired. Molten salt baths, like hot oil baths, offer the advantages of good heat transfer, commonly have a higher operating range (e.g., 200 to 425 oC) and may have a high thermal stability (e.g., 540 oC).There are several precautions to take when working with these types of heating devices:

D. Pressurized and Vacuum Operations

1.  Compressed Gases

Compressed gases can be toxic, flammable, oxidizing, corrosive, inert or a combination of hazards. In addition to the chemical hazards, compressed gases may be under a great deal of pressure. The amount of energy in a compressed gas cylinder makes it a potential rocket. Appropriate care in the handling and storage of compressed gas cylinders is essential.

a.  General Considerations

The following is an overview of the hazards to be avoided when handling and storing compressed gases:

b.  Handling Precautions 

c.  Storage of Compressed Gas Cylinders

d.  Using Compressed Gas Cylinders 

Before using cylinders, read all label information and material safety data sheets (MSDSs) associated with the gas being used. The cylinder valve outlet connections are designed to prevent mixing of incompatible gases. The outlet threads vary in diameter; some are internal and some are external; some are right-handed and some are left-handed. Generally, right-handed threads are used for fuel gases.

To set up and use the cylinder, follow these steps:

e.  Assembly of Equipment and Piping 

f.  Leaking Cylinders 

Most leaks occur at the valve in the top of the cylinder and may involve the valve threads valve stem, valve outlet, or pressure relief devices. Lab personnel should not attempt to repair leaking cylinders.

Where action can be taken without serious exposure to lab personnel:

g.  Empty Cylinders 

h.  Flammable Gases

Roosevelt University stocks many types of flammable gases.  Keep sources of ignition away from the cylinders.  Oxidizers and flammable gases should be stored in areas separated by at least 20 feet or by a non-combustible wall.


Acetylene presents special hazards either due to their toxicity or physical properties.  Review this information before using these gases.  

Acetylene is highly flammable under pressure and is spontaneously combustible in air at pressures above 15 psig.  Acetylene cylinders do not contain oxygen and may cause asphyxiation of released into a confined area.  Since acetylene is shock-sensitive and explodes above 30 psi, cylinders of acetylene contain acetylene dissolved in acetone.  Acetylene cylinders must not be placed on their sides, since the acetone and binders will become dislodged.  The result may be formation of an acetylene “pocket” that is subject to polymerization and the possibility that liquid acetone will be released into the regulator.

Shipping and Handling of Acetylene

Acetylene is shipped in a cylinder packed with a porous mass material and a liquid solvent, commonly acetone.  When the valve of a charged acetylene cylinder is opened, the acetylene comes out of solution and passes out in the gaseous form.  It is crucial that fuse plugs in the tops and bottoms of all acetylene cylinders be thoroughly inspected whenever handled to detect solvent loss.  There should be no sources of ignition in the storage or use area.  If rough handling or other occurrences should cause any fusible plug to leak, move the cylinder to an open space well away from any possible source and place a sign on the cylinder warning of "Leaking Flammable Gas".  Contact laboratory managers at each campus.

On-site Storage of Acetylene

Do not store acetylene cylinders on their side.  If an acetylene cylinder has tipped over or was stored on its side, carefully place the cylinder upright and do not use until the liquid has settled to the bottom.  The rule of thumb is not to use the cylinder for as many minutes as the cylinder was on its side, up to 24 hours.

Emergency Procedures for Accidents with Acetylene

Disposal of Acetylene Cylinders

i.  Highly Toxic Gases 

Highly toxic gases, (such as arsinefluorinegermanediborane, hydrogen cyanide, boron trifluoride ethylene oxidephosgene, and silane) can pose a significant health risk in the event of a leak. Use of these materials requires written approval by the Principal Investigator or supervisor.

The following additional precautions must be taken:

2.  High Pressure Air Compressor 

3.  Vacuum Apparatus 

Vacuum work can result in an implosion and the possible hazards of flying glass, splattering chemicals and fire. All vacuum operations must be set up and operated with careful consideration of the potential risks. Equipment at reduced pressure is especially prone to rapid pressure. Such conditions can force liquids through an apparatus, sometimes with undesirable consequences.

a.  Vacuum Pumps

Vacuum pumps are used in the lab to remove air and other vapors from a vessel or manifold. The most common usages are on rotary evaporators, drying manifolds, centrifugal concentrators (“speedvacs”), acrylamide gel dryers, freeze dryers, vacuum ovens, tissue culture filter flasks and aspirators, desiccators, filtration apparatus and filter/degassing apparatus.

The critical factors in vacuum pump selection are:

When using a vacuum pump on a rotary evaporator, a dry ice alcohol slurry cold trap or a refrigerated trap is recommended. A Cold Trap should be used in line with the pump when high vapor loads from drying samples will occur. Consult manufacturer for specific situations. These recommendations are based on keeping evaporating flask on rotary evaporator at 400 C. Operating at a higher temperature allows the Dry Vacuum System to strip boiling point solvents with acceptable evaporation rates.

Vacuum pumps can pump vapors from air, water to toxic and corrosive materials like TFA and methylene chloride. Oil seal pumps are susceptible to excessive amounts of solvent, corrosive acids and bases and excessive water vapors. Pump oil can be contaminated quite rapidly by solvent vapors and mists. Condensed solvents will thin the oil and diminish its lubricating properties, possibly seizing the pump motor. Corrosives can create sludge by breaking down the oil and cause overheating. Excess water can coagulate the oil and promotes corrosion within the pump. Proper trapping (cold trap, acid trap) and routine oil changes greatly extend the life of an oil seal vacuum. Pump oil should be changed when it begins to turn a dark brown color.

b.  Vacuum Trapping

When using a vacuum source, it is important to place a trap between the experimental apparatus and the vacuum source.  The vacuum trap

Proper Trapping Techniques:

To prevent contamination, all lines leading from experimental apparatus to the vacuum source should be equipped with filtration or other trapping as appropriate. 

c.  Cold Traps 

For most volatile liquids, a cold trap containing a slush of dry ice with isopropanol or ethanol is sufficient (to -78 oC).  Avoid using acetone.  Ethanol and isopropanol are cheaper and less likely to foam.

Liquid nitrogen may only be used with sealed or evacuated equipment, and then only with extreme caution.  If the system is opened while the cooling bath is still in contact 
with the trap, oxygen may condense from the atmosphere and react vigorously with any organic material present.

d.  Glass Vessels 

Although glass vessels are frequently used in pressure and vacuum systems, they can explode or implode violently, either spontaneously from stress failure or from an accidental blow.

Conduct pressure and vacuum operations in glass vessels behind adequate shielding.

e.  Dewar Flasks

Dewar flasks are under vacuum to provide insulation and can collapse from thermal shock or slight mechanical shock.

4.  Rotovaps

Rotovaps can implode under certain conditions. Since some Rotovaps contain components made of glass, this can be a serious hazard.

Glass components of the rotary evaporator should be made of Pyrex or similar glass. Glass vessels should be completely enclosed in a shield to guard against flying glass should the components implode. Increase in rotation speed and application of vacuum to the flask whose solvent is to be evaporated should be gradual.


Material Safety Data Sheets provide information regarding the physical and chemical properties of a given product, and may include a description of potential hazards including health, storage, flammability, radioactivity, reactivity, prescribed emergency actions and manufacturer information.   The MSDS for each chemical found at Roosevelt University provides information about handling, transportation, and disposal of it in an appropriate manner.  


Material Safety Data Sheets for all chemicals purchased and stored at Roosevelt University are on file in the lab manager’s office.   As part of preparation for an experiment, it is good practice to look over any appropriate Material Safety Data Sheets.  If an MSDS for a chemical is missing from the binder in the office, please notify the laboratory manager immediately.  While one may be able to find an MSDS online from various sites such as, the particular chemical vendor will provide an exact MSDS for each purchased chemical.