Call 911 immediately if you urgently require the assistance of paramedics, fire fighters, or law enforcements agents. 


Mathieu Lalonde manages the safety program for the Harvard Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology.  Mathieu can be reached at 617-496-8285 for emergencies or consultations.


To evacuate the building, consult our Evacuation Guide and, if you or a colleague has a disability, use our Occupants with Disabilities Guide. For further guidance on how to approach an emergency from other buildings on campus, we recommend you familiarize yourself with the Harvard Emergency Response Guide and Harvard Fire Safety Guide. To ensure you are prepared if an emergency arises, we encourage you to join the next CCB Safety Training and read through these guides before an emergency occurs.


Where to Start

Contact Mat Lalonde to schedule a laboratory safety orientation to familiarize yourself with the safety features of your laboratory. Next, complete online safety training specific to the type of research you will be conducting in the laboratory, familiarize yourself with emergency procedures, and learn about the properties of the chemicals you will use in your daily research. 

Contact Mat Lalonde, our CCB Safety Officer, for help setting up a safe experimental design or assessing the hazards of a substance or experiment.


Safety Trainings

Before conducting experiments in CCB wet labs, all researchers must complete General Laboratory Safety (a.k.a. LAB100) in the Harvard Training Portal (HTP) You are also required to complete research-specific training in HTP: Laboratory Biosafety (LAB103), Laser Safety (RPO102), Radioactive Materials Safety (RPO101), X-Ray Device Safety (RPO107). 

For liquid pyrophoric training, contact Mat Lalonde



To safely conduct experiments involving recombinant and synthetic DNA, infectious agents, and human materials, you must first complete Laboratory Biosafety (a.k.a. LAB103) in the Harvard Traning Portal. To learn more about how to approach various biological materials, here is a curated list of valuable resources:

Harvard Resources

The Environmental Health and Safety department offers information on safe biological work practices and biosafety. And, the Committee on Microbiological Safety (COMS) regulates biosafety at Harvard and its thirteen affiliated institutions.

External Resources

The Material Safety Data Sheets for Infectious Substances details the health hazards, including infectious dose, viability (including decontamination), medical information, laboratory hazard, recommended precautions, handling information and spill procedures, of specific substances.

For general resources on biosafety, you can visit the Center for Disease Control's biosafety webpage; for more specialized information, we recommend reading the agency's report on Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories and, for recommendations on tissue culture hoods (biosafety cabinets), their Primary Containment for Biohazards: Selection, Installation and Use of Biological Safety Cabinets in appendix A of Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories 5th Edition.

For the latest updates on the ethical, legal, and social concerns of human genetics research, including basic and clinical research involving Recombinant DNA, Genetic Technologies, and Xenotransplantation, visit the National Institute of Health's Office of Science Policy for general updates and the NIH Guidelines For Research Involving Recombinant or Synthetic Nucleic Acid Molecules for more specific guidance.

A permit to work with recombinant DNA in Cambridge, MA, can be aquired by applying here. The Cambridge Recombinant DNA Technology Ordinance details the city's regulations and requirements.

For information on bloodborne pathogens, including Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and HIV/AIDS, check out the Occupational Safety & Health Administration's Bloodborne Pathogens Standard.

For information not provided in the above resources, we recommend you visit the American Industrial Hygience Association for information on technical biosafety, the American Biological Safety Association for biosafety information. 


Chemical Safety 


General Chemical Safety Resources

Our CCB Safety Manual details our safety policies and required safety trainings. You may also consult Harvard's Environmental Health & Safety department website, the Harvard University Chemical Hygiene Plan, and the Harvard EH&S reproductive health web page for more case-specific safety information.


Chemical Spills

Contact Mat Lalonde in the event of a chemical spill to help determine when local researchers can address a spill (minor spills) and when outside help is necessary (major spills). Mat can also offer guidance on how to clean-up a minor spill. For more guidance, we recommend consulting the ACS Guide for Chemical Spill Response Planning in Laboratories, and Safe Use of Hydrofluoric Acid whose physical, chemical, and toxilogical properties make it especially hazardous to handle. 


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 (EHS) handles Harvard’s hazardous waste program. Below, we highlight the aspects of this program that are especially relevant to CCB.

The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority closely monitors Harvard’s sink and drain discharge. Further guidance on the sink disposal of chemical substances can be found on the EHS Lab Waste webpage. 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

Follow our hazardous waste best practices to help prevent accidents:

  • Set up hazardous waste containers at or near the point of waste generation (do not place hazardous waste containers in sinks).
  • Place all hazardous waste containers in a secondary containment bin; this helps ensure that spills, leaks, and container over-pressurizations are safely contained.
  • Close all hazardous waste containers 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. 
  • 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)

Additional 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.

Quick Links


Hazardous Materials Shipping

The Hazardous Materials Shipping Document aides researchers to conform to regulations from the U.S. 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.

Contact Chris Perry for assistance with the shipment of hazardous materials.


Radiation & Laser Safety

Before you conduct experiments with sources of radiation (e.g., radioactive isotopes, Mössbaur, irradiators) or lasers (class 3B and 4 and laser microscopes), you must complete Radioactive Materials Safety (a.k.a. RPO101) and Laser Safety (RPO102) in the Harvard Training Portal. Harvard University's Environmental Health and Safety department also provides further information on radiation protection and lasers.

We also recommend that those who use Class 3B and 4 lasers complete a laser eye examination.

For external resources on these topics, we recommend consulting the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's radiation protection guide, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration's guides on laser hazards and non-ionizing and ionizing radiation, and the Laser Institute of America's wealth of information on their website.


Non-Harvard Personnel in Research Facilities


CCB affiliates must consult Harvard's minors in labs policy before inviting a minor to visit, or conduct research, in a lab. 

Other Visitors

Individuals without a Harvard appointment (e.g., visiting scholar or collaborator) must be assigned as a Person of Interest (POI) before gaining access to a laboratory.


Chemical Inventory

The Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology uses LabCup to inventory chemicals. LabCup has a myriad of useful functions aside from inventory management. Contact Mat Lalonde to obtain a LabCup account.