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Environmental Health and Safety

Environmental Health and Safety

Hazardous Material Spill



Laboratory and shop workers are expected to have the knowledge, capabilities, and supplies to clean up incidental spills of commonly-used substances. Workers should be familiar with the material’s hazardous characteristics, proper clean-up procedures, and other potential hazards in the work area.

Large Spills

  1. If you are unable to deal with a spill in your area, Contact University Police at ext.1911. Inform them of the exact situation, chemicals and quantities involved, and the location. University Police will notify the San Carlos Park Fire Department for assistance. University Police will also contact the Director of EH&S or designee.
  2. Spills and releases of certain chemicals in excess of their Reportable Quantities (RQ) require immediate notification of the National Response Center and the State Warning Point. The Director of EH&S or designee can help to determine if RQ's have been exceeded and make appropriate notifications.
  3. Make every attempt to block the substance from entering any drains, water systems, or natural areas, and evacuate and secure or cordon off the area.
  4. As with any major event, notify Ms. Susan Evans, with the President’s Office, at 590-1057.


1)      Communicate the situation to others in the lab, and Supervision (PI, Dept. Chair); remove all unprotected
          personnel and students away from the area of the spill; ask for help, if needed. Notify EH&S at 590-1414.

2)      Evaluate the risks:

   a.        How likely is a fire or explosion?

   b.       Can toxic fumes or particles be released?

   c.        Is the substance highly corrosive, or an oxidizer?

   d.       Can the substance cause damage to the building, equipment, or to the environment if it goes down a drain?

   e.       Protect human life first, then facilities.

   f.        If the spilled chemical is volatile, ventilate the area or evacuate.

   g.       If the spilled chemical is flammable, remove all ignition sources.

3)  Evaluate quantities:           

  a.        Do you have the materials and protective equipment readily at hand to clean-up the amount of material spilled?

  b.       Do you have the knowledge and training?
            A prompt response can minimize potential hazards, or if handled incorrectly, create new ones.

4)      Don protective equipment: lab coat, gloves, and especially eye protection.

   a.      If vapors or dusts are present – close the door and turn on the hood.
            Temporarily vacate the area if possible, and resume clean-up later.

   b.     Most acids or bases can be neutralized in place, then mopped or rinsed to drain.
           Neutralize acids with sodium carbonate or bicarbonate.
           Neutralize bases with citric or ascorbic acid.
           Confirm neutralization is complete with pH paper before rinsing.

   c.     Contain the spill – surround it with sand, vermiculite, cat litter, or spill pillows. Use paper towels as a last resort.

   d.     Absorb the liquid – add more vermiculite or other absorbent.

   e.     Collect the material by scooping or sweeping into a bucket or other container that can be sealed.

           Label properly and call EH&S for collection of all hazardous wastes.

   f.      Ventilate the area as needed.

   g.     Decontaminate the area: common cleaning products should be adequate.
            For any questions, contact EH&S at 590-1414.
            If at any time during the event you do not feel comfortable – get additional assistance from others in the area.

Management and Disposal of Hazardous Waste

Management and Disposal of Biohazardous Waste


Rev 6.2011 R. Holtzclaw