Chemical Spill

Chemical spills must be cleaned up immediately only by trained personnel.  Clean up the spill only if the following conditions are met:

  • You know what the chemicals are and the hazards associate with it
  • You understand the clean-up protocols and you have adequate clean up materials in the laboratory
  • You have the proper PPE to do the clean-up
  • You feel comfortable and feel that no personal injuries will result from cleaning the spill

Do not clean up the spill if:

  • The chemical is highly flammable
  • A secondary situation exists that makes the area unsafe (such as a fire)
  • The chemical hazard is “toxic”.  For example, do not attempt to clean up the following toxic chemicals:
Aromatic aminesNitriles
Hydrofluoric acidEthers
Carbon disulfideOrganic halides

Chemical spills become emergencies when:

  • The spill results in a release to the environment (e.g., sink or floor drain)
  • The material or its hazards are unknown
  • Laboratory staff cannot safety manage the hazard because the material is too hazardous, or the quantity is too large

Small Chemical Spill:

A small spill is generally defined as less than 1 liter or 1 kilogram of chemical that is not highly toxic, does not present a significant fire or environmental hazard, and is not in a public area such as a common hallway.  A small chemical spill should take less than 15 minutes to clean up.  Small chemical spills can be cleaned up by laboratory personnel who have been trained in spill clean-up and with the appropriate materials.  Some factors to consider when doing the cleaning are:

  • The size area and quantity of the spill
  • The availability of clean up equipment in the laboratory
  • The toxicity and hazardous properties of the chemical
  • Personal exposure to the chemical

Small Chemical Spill Procedures:

  • Alert people in the surrounding immediately of the spill and evacuate all non-essential persons from the spill area
  • Help anyone who has been contaminated.  Use the emergency shower/eyewash and flush skin or eye for at least 15 minutes
  • Work with another person to clean-up the spill.  Do not clean-up a spill alone
  • Check the chemical’s SDS and/or container label to understand the recommended procedures for cleaning up the spill and the PPE to wear.  Contact the CSUDH CHO with questions or to request additional support at 310-243-2895
  • Wear the appropriate PPE as recommended by the chemical’s SDS.  At a minimum, eye protection and lab coat must be work during spill clean-up
  • Turn off all ignition sources (flames, electrical devices) near the spill area  
    Confine the spill to small area using spill kit contents and prevent others from entering the spill area
  • Use the appropriate kit to neutralize and absorb inorganic acids and bases.  Collect the residue in a clear plastic bag, place in the container, label the container with contents, and dispose it as hazardous chemical waste.  Do not dispose of the chemical in the sink or in the trash can
  • For other chemicals, absorb spill with vermiculite, dry sand, or diatomaceous earth
  • Clean the spill area with soap and a small amount of water (if compatible with the chemical that was spilled).  Handle the waste water as chemical waste
  • Collect the residue and place it in a clear plastic bag.  Double bag the waste and label the bag as hazardous waste. Contact EHS at 310-243-3012 to schedule a hazardous waste pick-up

Large Chemical Spill:

Large chemical spills include spills of 1 liter or 1 kilogram or more, spills of any quantity of highly toxic chemicals, or chemicals in public areas or adjacent to drains.  Large chemical spills require emergency response.  If the spill presents a situation that is immediately dangerous to life or health (IDLH) or presents a significant fire risk, activate a fire alarm, evacuate the area and wait for emergency response to arrive.

Do not attempt to clean up a large chemical spill.

Large Chemical Spill Procedures:

  • Activate the fire alarm
  • Notify people in the area immediately of a chemical spill
  • Attend to any injured or contaminated person(s) in the area.  Use the emergency shower/eyewash and flush skin or eye for at least 15 minutes if it is safe to do so
  • Turn off all ignition sources (flames, electrical devices) if it is safe to do so
  • Evacuate the area and close the door.  Avoid walking through contaminated areas or breathing vapors of the spilled material.  Warn others not to enter
  • Call University Police by dialing 911 from a campus phone or (310) 243-3333 from a cell phone
  • Notify the EHS by dialing 310-243-2895
  • Any employee with known contact with a particularly hazardous chemical must shower, including washing of the hair as soon as possible unless contraindicated by physical injuries
  • Complete a CSUDH Incident Report and Investigation Form and following incident reporting procedures

Chemical Spill during Transportation, Outside the Laboratory

Chemical transportation is performed in accordance with the CSUDH Hazardous Materials and Hazardous Waste Transportation Procedures.  Small spills that occur within laboratory buildings where there is access to a spill kit, SDSs, and proper PPE may be cleaned as described above.  For chemicals spill during transportation, outside of laboratory spaces, perform the following:

  • Secure the area and notify bystanders of the spill.  Do not let anyone get near the spill
  • Contact University Police by dialing 911 from a campus phone or (310) 243-3333 from a cell phone and follow the large spill procedures above as appropriate