The following information has been collected and condensed from the EH&S website and other regulatory agencies and has been provided for reference and guidance to those working in ChBE research labs. The duties of various lab users are also provided below.
For general lab questions, please contact ChBE Safety Coordinator Ann Greco.
If you handle hazardous materials, you must be formally trained on how to handle and appropriately dispose of these materials.
Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) provides training courses each month. You can attend these courses for initial instruction or as a refresher course. The initial instruction must be completed within six months of beginning work with hazardous materials.
All faculty and students who intend to use compressed gas cylinders are required to pass a written exam.
First please review the presentation, "Safety Training for Transport of Compressed Gas Cylinders."
Then please download and complete the Gas Cylinder Safety Written Exam.
Once you have completed this exam, please return it to ChBE Safety Coordinator Ann Greco.
Use a chemical fume hood anytime your work involves:
The sash is a blast shield, and provides primary containment in the event of fire. Your sash should be closed when you are not actively working at your hood. Moreover, you should be vigilant that your fellow lab occupants maintain closed sashes when they are not working at their hoods.
In cases where you are performing experiments that are suspected to present an explosion hazard, you should use a portable blast shield inside the hood in addition to a closed sash. You should also inform your fellow lab occupants when you are performing potentially hazardous procedures. Again, from the perspective of personal self interest, you should strive to maintain the sash at the lowest possible position at all times.
All chemicals are, to some degree, poisonous to the human body. Routes of entry include inhalation, skin and eye absorption, ingestion and injection. All personnel should be properly trained in use and application of MSDS - knowledge of properties, reactivities and compatibilities of chemical constituents, proper design and use of apparatus, engineering controls and correct PPE.
All chemicals should be dated upon receipt and again upon opening. It is especially important that this procedure be done for all reactive and peroxide formers such as ethyl ether, tetrahydrofuran, etc. A first-in, first out (FIFO) inventory system should be adopted to control excess accumulation of chemicals and to prevent expired chemicals from automatically becoming regulated hazard wastes.
All users of hazardous materials are required by EPA law to recycle chemicals, purchase less toxic materials, or use smaller quantities and design procedures that reduce the volume and concentration of hazardous materials used and waste generated.
Bottles, when carried, should always be supported on the bottom and never carried by the neck. Use a carrying device such as a rubber bucket which provides secondary spill containment and breakage protection. Whenever possible, protective coated chemical bottles and glassware should be used. A sturdy step stool or ladder should be used when obtaining chemicals from upper shelves that are out of reach. Transporting hazardous materials in vehicles involves extensive training for compliance with Federal, State, and local regulations. Contact EH&S for details before attempting transportation and to assure compliance with the law.
Hydrofluoric acid, perchlorates, perchloric acid, radioactive materials, pyrophorics, gases and other extremely toxic, reactive, or potentially explosive materials should be handled under the direct supervision of the instructor or research staff and only after consultation with EH&S. Also, the use of perchloric acid may require a specially designed and designated fume hood. A special license must be obtained and a training course completed before any radioactive materials may be used.
Areas where hazardous or radioactive materials are used or stored must be thoroughly decontaminated using EH&S approved methods prior to maintenance, renovation, reallocation of space, or closure. It is the responsibility of the supervisor, principal investigator and their department to arrange proper disposal of all hazardous materials prior to personnel relocations or facility closure.
All chemicals, including those for disposal, must be clearly and completely labeled with full chemical names in English. This will aid emergency personnel, lab users (especially where changes of personnel and lab renovations have occurred), waste program personnel, and other building occupants to identify hazards and handle or dispose of chemicals properly.
Chemicals should be stored in approved closed containers and cabinets with secondary containment to prevent releases, separated by compatible hazard class (flammable/oxidizers/acids/bases/reactives) to avoid unwanted reactions and unnecessary exposure to occupants.
EH&S approved flammable liquid storage cabinets should have proper exhaust ventilation. Shelves and cabinets should be anchored solidly to the wall and safety lips should be installed along the front edges of exposed shelves to keep materials from falling. Flammable, volatile chemicals should be kept in a cool place, away from sources of heat and ignition.
The total volume of flammable solvents in the laboratory should be limited to the amount needed for approximately one week of operations or the limit prescribed by NFPA (National Fire Protection Association), UBC (Uniform Building Code), and UFC (Uniform Fire Code), whichever is more restrictive.
If flammables are stored in refrigerators/freezers, the units should be designed, manufactured and UL-approved to have spark-free interiors. Any refrigerator or freezer not designed for the storage of flammables needs to have "EXPLOSION HAZARD: Do Not Store Flammables in This Refrigerator" marked on the outside of the door.
BIOLOGICAL WASTE (Infectious & Non-Infectious): Cultures, plates, media and other liquid or solid materials generated by Campus research and teaching laboratories, that contain or come in contact with living cells, body fluids, viruses, clinical materials, and other microorganisms.
INFECTIOUS WASTE: Biological waste that involves the presence of organisms containing recombinant DNA or any other organisms hazardous to human or animal health, including pathogens of sufficient virulence and quantity that exposure to the waste by a susceptible host could result in an infectious disease.
NON-INFECTIOUS: Plates, slides, culture vessels, and other biological or biomedical appearing materials generated by Campus laboratories, that do not meet the criteria of “infectious” (as defined above) or have been rendered non-infectious by chemical disinfection or autoclaving.
The Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) requires that the following standard and special microbiological practices, physical containment or laboratory design, containment equipment, and training be implemented when research or teaching activities involve the use of biohazards, recombinant DNA molecules (rDNA), select agents, or bloodborne pathogens. These requirements include hygienic and operational practices that are critical in providing for a safe work environment and assuring a viable research product is produced. These practices are also necessary for minimizing and/or eliminating the risk of occupational exposure to infectious and potentially infectious substances.
The first principle of containment is strict adherence to good microbiological practices. Consequently, all personnel directly or indirectly involved in experiments using microbial material 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. If a research group is working with a known pathogen for which there is an effective vaccine, the vaccine should be made available to all workers.
Biological safety cabinets referred to in this section are classified as Class I or Class II cabinets. For additional information on biological safety cabinets, please visit: CDC-NIH Selection, Installation and Use of Biological Safety Cabinets
Class I - The Class I BSC provides personnel and environmental protection, but no product protection. It is similar in air movement to a chemical fume hood, but has a HEPA filter in the exhaust system to protect the environment. In the Class I BSC, unfiltered room air is drawn across the work surface. Personnel protection is provided by this inward airflow as long as a minimum velocity of 75 linear feet per minute (lfpm) is maintained through the front opening. Class I BSCs are used specifically to enclose equipment (e.g., centrifuges, harvesting equipment or small fermenters), or procedures with potential to generate aerosols (e.g. cage dumping, culture aeration or tissue homogenation).
Class II - Class II BSCs are partial barrier systems that rely on the laminar movement of air to provide containment. If the air curtain is disrupted (e.g., movement of materials in and out of a cabinet, rapid or sweeping movement of the arms) the potential for contaminant release into the laboratory work environment is increased as is the risk of product contamination. The Class II (Types A1, A2, B1 and B2) BSCs provide personnel, environmental and product protection. Airflow is drawn into the front grille of the cabinet, providing personnel protection. In addition, the downward laminar flow of HEPA-filtered air provides product protection by minimizing the chance of cross-contamination across the work surface of the cabinet. Because cabinet exhaust air is passed through a certified HEPA filter, it is particulate-free (environmental protection), and may be recirculated to the laboratory or discharged from the building via a canopy connection.
Radioactivity is defined as the spontaneous emission of radiation, generally alpha and beta particles, often accompanied by gamma rays, from the nucleus of an unstable atom. Radiation may be particles or photons emitted from an unstable radioactive atom as a result of radioactive decay. All of these types of radiation are represented at the University of Colorado. Each type of radiation has unique safety considerations and holding techniques that will be discussed.
Radiation may be reduced by taking advantage of time, distance, and shielding. By reducing the time spent working with radioactive materials and/or radiation producing machines, the dose received from the radiation is reduced.
Increasing the distance from a source also will reduce the dose because the intestate of radiation decreases as approximately 1/d2, where d is the distance from the source. For example, if the distance is doubled, the intensity is reduced to 1/4 of the original intensity. This is also known as the Inverse Square Law. Shielding can be very effective in reducing the dose received.
There are different types of shielding for different types of radiation. Use caution when selecting shielding to reduce the radiation dose. The dose may actually increase by selecting the wrong shielding. Verify radiation levels with a survey meter to ensure that appropriate and/or enough shielding has been used.
All freezers and other equipment used to store radioactive materials must have a Caution Radioactive Materials sign or label. Radioactive materials should be stored only in areas properly marked and approved for their use. Each laboratory must ensure security of radioactive materials and/or radiation-producing machines. This may require locking of laboratory doors or storage freezers/refrigerators depending on use and accessibility of the area.
An inventory of all sealed or unsealed radioactive materials should be kept on the outside of the main storage freezer/refrigerator/area in each laboratory. Enter the date and the initials of the individual placing or disposing of an item being crossed off the inventory. The inventory sheet is collected to update the laboratory's possession levels.
It is a good practice to dispose of radioactive materials which are more than one or two years old, especially those bound to nuclide and proteins. Some bound radioactive materials and their chemical carriers have an effective "shelf-life" that may be exceeded.
Radioactive waste is separated into three types: solid, liquid, and scintillation vials. Each type has specifically designated waste containers. Containers are also provided for sharps, lead pigs, and any other unusual wastes. Empty lead pigs are stored separately and collected upon request for possible recycling. Unlike lead pigs, plastic pigs may be disposed in the appropriate solid waste container.
Radioactive waste is also segregated by half-life. There are three half-life categories designated by color.
The half-life categories are as follows:
Half-life categories are very important for waste minimization and decreasing disposal costs for the University. Waste should be segregated by half-life category whenever possible and placed in the appropriately colored waste container. If waste is created containing two or more isotopes from different half-life categories, the waste should be disposed in the container for the longest lived isotope in the waste.
There are three different types of radioactive waste created in a radiation laboratory: 1) purely radioactive, 2) mixed (radioactive and chemical), and 3) radioactive and biological. Proper handling of wastes is critical for appropriate transportation and disposal. When the containers are full, the laboratory submits a Radioactive Waste Pick-up Request Form.
Mixed waste (hazardous and radioactive) must comply with both radioactive and chemical regulations. Generation of mixed wastes should be avoided whenever possible. Disposal of this type of waste is very difficult and costly. Laboratories should actively seek ways to reduce the amount of mixed waste generated. Cost for mixed waste disposal may be re-charged to the laboratory.
Mixing biological wastes and radioactive material should be abided whenever possible. Any biological material must be rendered non-infectious using bleach or other disinfecting agent prior to disposal. When radioactive material is involved, use of an autoclave is NOT permitted. Once rendered non-infectious, this waste should be segregated from all other radioactive wastes. Do not use biohazard bags for radioactive materials.