Chemical Safety

The below resources help minimize the risk to employees, students, and the public from potential exposure to hazardous materials used in our research laboratories. To further mitigate risk, all researchers (with the exception of theoreticians) must take online General Laboratory Safety Training and attend a CCB-specific safety seminar.


General Chemical Safety Resources  |  Hazardous Waste  |  Hazardous Materials Shipping



General Chemical Safety Resources

Find information on required safety training and policies. This document augments existing CCB and University policies and procedures; please refer to the Environmental Health & Safety for additional safety information.
Researchers can potentially encounter a range of reproductive and developmental hazards. Though not an exhaustive list, this document provides guidance for laboratory workers to protect themselves from these hazards.
Learn about equipment and supplies relevant to CCB research endeavors.
Chemical spills, one of the most common laboratory accidents, can also be the most serious. Hazards depend on the spilled material's chemical and physical properties, location, and quantity. This document helps researchers evaluate when a chemical spill can be addressed by local researchers (minor spills) and when outside help is necessary (major spills). It also offers guidance on how to clean-up a minor spill. 
Hydrofluoric acid's (HF) physical, chemical, and toxilogical properties make it especially hazardous to handle. Both anhydrous hydrofluoric acid and aqueous solutions are clear, colorless, highly corrosive liquids. When exposed to air, anhydrous HF and concentrated solutions produce pungent fumes, which are also dangerous. HF shares the corrosive properties common to mineral acids, but possesses the unique ability to cause deep tissue damage and systemic toxicity. This document provides information on the safe use of hydrofluoric acid in the laboratory.
Find information on what respirators are available, medical and training requirements associated with their use, and who to contact for more information. Respirator users must:
  • carefully select, fit, inspect, clean, and replace their respirator when necessary;
  • be medically approved for respirator use and trained regularly;
  • evaluate their work environment periodically to determine appropriate levels of respiratory protection.


Hazardous Waste

Harvard and CCB Researchers must comply with federal and state regulations governing the management and disposal of hazardous waste. Harvard's Environmental Health & Safety handles Harvard’s hazardous waste program. Below, we highlight the aspects of this program that are especially relevant to CCB.
Sinks and Drains
The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority closely monitors Harvard’s sink and drain discharge. The following substances cannot be poured down the drain:
  • Acetone
  • Organic solvents or chemicals
  • Mercury or other heavy metals
  • Strong acids (solutions with pH < 5.5)
  • Strong bases (solutions with pH > 12.0)
  • Malodorous substances
  • Hazardous waste
  • Infectious/biological waste
  • Radioactive material
Further guidance on the sink disposal of chemical substances can be found on the EHS Lab Waste webpage.
Key Hazardous Waste Guidelines
  • Set up hazardous waste containers “at or near” the point of waste generation (do not place hazardous waste containers in sinks)
  • All hazardous waste containers must reside in a secondary containment bin; this helps ensure that spills, leaks, and container over-pressurizations are safely contained
  • Hazardous waste containers must be closed with a cap when not actively receiving material; funnels should not be left in hazardous waste containers even momentarily
  • Each hazardous waste container must have a hazardous waste label affixed and properly completed
  • Incompatible hazardous waste (e.g. acidic and basic waste) must be placed in separate waste containers that reside in separate secondary containers. This is especially applicable to nitric acid and organic solvents
  • Nothing other than hazardous waste containers should reside in a hazardous waste secondary containment bin.
  • When a hazardous waste container is ready to be taken away, enter the date on the tag and transfer to your group’s Main Accumulation Area (hazardous waste cabinet)
Hazardous Waste Tips
  • Use 5-gallon plastic containers for waste solvents: accumulating waste solvents in 5-gallon plastic containers saves money and reduces the need for costly waste packaging prior to shipment.
  • Use plastic containers for the accumulation of corrosive wastes: acids, bases, metal salts, bleach, and aqueous waste solutions should be collected in plastic containers. The use of metal containers with these waste streams results in corroded containers that leak, compromise safety, and necessitate spill response efforts.
  • Don’t overstock chemicals: see what is available; order what is needed. Do not apply bulk purchasing cost-saving logic to the purchase of chemicals. Overstocking chemicals eventually results in expensive large-scale lab clean-outs. Evaluate current lab supplies and order the minimum amount needed.
  • Label all chemicals to prevent the disposal of "unknowns": ensure all reagent and squeeze bottles, vials, flasks, and waste containers are labeled appropriately. Unidentified materials must undergo analytical testing before disposal, which can more than quadruple disposal costs.
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Hazardous Materials Shipping

The Hazardous Materials Shipping Document aides researchers to conform to regulations from the US Department of Transportation (DOT) (ground transport) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) (air transport).
Regulations must be followed when a researcher:
  • Ships a research sample for testing;
  • Sends hazardous materials to a collaborator in industry or at another university;
  • Returns a hazardous material to the manufacturer; and/or
  • Ships a sample packaged in dry ice.
With such complex regulations, researchers should contact the CCB Safety Officer Mathieu Lalonde for assistance with the shipment of hazardous materials from CCB.