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The degree to which a chemical exposure adversely affects the human body is contingent upon the dose of the chemical; the duration of the exposure; and the route in which the chemical entered the body. The minimization of exposure to hazardous chemicals must be a priority of all laboratory personnel. This section discusses the primary "Routes-of-Entry" (inhalation, ingestion, absorption, and injection) and certain methods for controlling the chemical hazards.

The following are brief descriptions of common causes of laboratory related incidents. Unexpected and possibly dangerous situations can result from one or more of the following:

sm_bullet.gif (911 bytes) Incorrect chemical handling

sm_bullet.gif (911 bytes) Incorrect reaction

sm_bullet.gif (911 bytes)Incorrect amounts of

sm_bullet.gif (911 bytes) Incorrect order of addition of
    two or more substances

sm_bullet.gif (911 bytes)Incorrect rate of addition of
    two or more substances

sm_bullet.gif (911 bytes)Incorrect dilution of
   concentrated acids

sm_bullet.gif (911 bytes)using one or more incorrect

sm_bullet.gif (911 bytes)using expired chemicals


(2261 bytes)sm_bullet.gif (911 bytes)DO NOT INHALE VAPORS.

sm_bullet.gif (911 bytes)Experiments that generate vapors should be performed in a fumehood if at all possible. When fumehoods are not available some mechanism to remove vapors should be in place.

sm_bullet.gif (911 bytes)Lab windows and doors should be kept closed at all times so that fumehoods work properly.

sm_bullet.gif (911 bytes)Large objects should not be placed in fumehoods. Fumehoods should only be used to temporary hold equipment and chemicals.


(2362 bytes)sm_bullet.gif (911 bytes)Never pipette by mouth! Use a pipette bulb.

sm_bullet.gif (911 bytes)No eating, drinking, or application of cosmetics is allowed in any lab.

sm_bullet.gif (911 bytes)Never use chemical equipment as containers for food or drink.

sm_bullet.gif (911 bytes)All tobacco products are PROHIBITED in or around any lab!

sm_bullet.gif (911 bytes)Never taste, nor deliberately inhale any laboratory chemical. Exception: special experiments may involve odors of non-hazardous substances.


(4578 bytes)sm_bullet.gif (911 bytes)Wear appropriate PPE for the procedure.

sm_bullet.gif (911 bytes)Conduct procedures so as to avoid splashes and spills.

sm_bullet.gif (911 bytes)IMMEDIATELY wash any splashed chemical from your skin.


 (2244 bytes)Most exposures from injections are caused by improper handling of needles and broken glassware. Laboratories using needles must have a proper disposal container for needles. Used needles will not be placed in the trash or any other unapproved container. Individuals should use prudent care when handling needles and other sharp objects.

Laboratories should also have an approved container for the disposal of broken glass. Scoops and hand brooms must be available to safely clean the area of broken glass.


Chemicals are categorized according to their hazard class. There are four main classes for chemical hazards. The following are simplistic definitions of the chemical hazard classes:

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- Any material which has a flashpoint of < 100o F / 37.78 o C and burns in air, whether gas,
liquid, or solid. A flammable gas when mixed with air can explode if exposed to an ignition source.


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- Any material which will attack and irreversibly damage human tissues,
such as eyes, skin or mucous membranes, as well as other substances such as metal.


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(Toxic) - The ability of a substance in small quantities to cause severe or fatal
injuries by inhalation, absorption, or ingestion.


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- A chemical substance or mixture that may vigorously polymerize, decompose, condense, or become self-reactive under conditions of shock, pressure or temperature. Examples of reactive materials are as follows:

sm_bullet.gif (911 bytes) Explosive Material

sm_bullet.gif (911 bytes) Organic Peroxide

sm_bullet.gif (911 bytes) Water-Reactive Material


Chemical hazards are communicated through container labels. The most common types of hazard labels are the NFPA 704 Diamond and the HMIS Label.

The NFPA 704 (National Fire Protection Association) is a diamond-shaped label with colors, numbers and symbols to communicate chemical hazard information.  The HMIS label (Hazardous Material Information System) is similar to the NFPA’s system in which the differences between the two labels is that the HMIS label is rectangular in shape and also utilizes symbols indicating the PPE to be worn while working with the chemical.



wpeF.jpg (2345 bytes)The university is governed by a license issued by the State of Texas, Bureau of Radiation Control. Programs using radioactive material must do so in accordance with the university’s license. The following are general procedures to be followed while using radioactive materials.

  1. Warning signs of an approved type must be conspicuously posted outside entrance doors to rooms that contain strong magnetic fields, lasers, x-rays, high voltage devices, or other potentially hazardous radiation or equipment. Separate warning signs must be displayed outside rooms containing equipment, such as microwave sources, that could adversely affect pacemaker devices. Experiments using radioactive sources, and/or X-ray producing equipment must be completed under supervision of a competent person in accordance with the licensing requirements.
  2. Shielding, guarding, monitoring of ultraviolet radiation, X-rays and radioactivity is normally required by licensing regulations and experiments must comply with all applicable standards.

Contact the Environmental Health & Safety Office for more details concerning the university’s radiological control program.

warning.gif (1085 bytes) SPECIAL CONCERNS  warning.gif (1085 bytes)


sm_bullet.gif (911 bytes)Ethers are extremely volatile and flammable

sm_bullet.gif (911 bytes)Vapors are flammable and may result in flashback

sm_bullet.gif (911 bytes)Form potentially explosive peroxides upon exposure to air and light

sm_bullet.gif (911 bytes)Must be stored in well ventilated, cool area

sm_bullet.gif (911 bytes)DO NOT store in refrigerator unless it is designed for ether


sm_bullet.gif (911 bytes)Reacts violently with organics

sm_bullet.gif (911 bytes)Must be stored away from wood and other organic material

sm_bullet.gif (911 bytes)Must be used in a special washdown fume hood


sm_bullet.gif (911 bytes)shock sensitive and potentially explosive when DRY

sm_bullet.gif (911 bytes)store wet.

Reminder: Acids and bases are always added to water. Slowly add chemicals carefully stirring to allow cooling.


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