Chemical Safety

NFPA Sign

In the past few decades the progress in biomedical research and clinical diagnostics has necessitated the use of a wide range of chemicals to further our understanding of biological processes. The majority of the chemicals used in biomedical research laboratories are in types or quantities which pose only minimal hazards. However, there are a few chemicals which require special safe handling procedures.

Prudent Practices in the Laboratory, Handling and Disposal of Chemicals (National Research Council, 1995) defines the issues best by stating:

The laboratory has become the center for acquiring knowledge and developing new materials for future use, as well as for monitoring and controlling those chemicals currently used routinely in thousands of commercial processes. Many of these chemicals are beneficial, but others have the potential to cause damage to human health and the environment, and therefore also to public attitude toward the chemical enterprise on which we all so heavily depend.

A growing recognition of moral responsibility and mounting public pressure has made institutions housing chemical laboratories accountable for providing safe working environments for those employed in them and complying with extensive regulation of transport of chemicals the laboratories and removal of waste from them....Laboratories have become safe places to work.

A new culture of safety consciousness, accountability, organization, and education has developed in the laboratories of chemical industry, government, and academe. To a degree that could have been scarcely foreseen 25 years ago, programs have been implemented to train laboratory personnel and to monitor the handling of chemicals from the moment they are ordered until their departure for ultimate treatment or disposal.

All UCSF Principal Investigators (PIs) and laboratory workers must adhere to the campus chemical policies and procedures in the conduct of their research and the management of their laboratories. For information about specific chemical safety programs for operations not covered in this manual, contact the Chemical Safety Committee (CSC) office or your Environment, Health and Safety Specialist (EHS Specialist) at the UCSF Office of Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S).