Guidelines for Handling Simple Chemical Spills

In the event of a potentially hazardous spill, (chemical, biological or radioactive) or lab mishap:

  1. Alert and solicit colleagues for assistance
  2. Contact the on-call safety professional, 24/7 at 6-SAFE (312 996-7233) for guidance in proper procedure. 
  3. Take care of self
    3.1.  Administer first aid
            3.1.1.  If splashed, flush the affected area with water for 15 minutes
            3.2.2. If cut or burned, superficially clean wound and wrap with paper towel
    3.2.  Fill out Employee’s Injury Report form,
    3.3.  Proceed to UIC Hospital Emergency Room for proper care, bringing
            3.3.1.  Filled in Employee’s Injury Report form
            3.3.2.  MSDS of the chemical, printed from the manufacturer’s website.
  4. Take care of Complicated Spill, i.e. potentially dangerous atmosphere or larger mercury spill
    4.1.  Vacate the immediate area and await assistance
    4.2.  Isolate area by taping it off and posting warning
  5. Take care of Uncomplicated spill, i.e. extremely hazardous vapors are not being generated
    5.1.   Don second pair of nitrile gloves and eye protection (goggles when large than 100 ml concentrated acid
             or base), and a lab coat or apron.
    5.2.   Roll down cuff of polyethylene bag to prevent contaminating the outer surfaces
    5.3.   Gingerly, place big pieces of glass into plastic bag.
    5.4.   Dike and cover spill with sorbent material (see Spill Kit)
    5.5.   Leave room while it absorbs
    5.6.   Collect absorbent
             5.6.1.   Corrosives mix: scoop into a large beaker
                  Add water and check pH, if neutral, dispose liquid down sink and solid into trash
                  Add sodium or calcium carbonate for neutralizing MOST absorbed acids
                  or 5% hydrochloric acid for neutralizing MOST absorbed bases
             5.6.2.   Chemical and biohazard sorbent: gather or scoop into cuffed plastic bag
             5.6.3.   Mercury sponges: gather into cuffed plastic bag
    5.7.   Rinse spill area with water, unless contaminated with mercury
  6. Disposal
    6.1.   Place all potentially contaminated materials into the plastic bag
    6.2.   Remove top pair of gloves and place into plastic bag
    6.3.   Unroll cuff and seal plastic bag with tape
    6.4.   Fill out and affix Hazardous Waste Label: SPILL CLEAN UP MATERIALS, material spilled, date
             and approximate quantity of spilled material.
    6.5.   Waste Removal
              6.5.1.   Chemical waste: Fill out Waste Removal Form or call 3-CHEM (413-2436) for waste
                          collection information.
              6.5.2.   Biological waste: Follow procedure for regular biological waste disposal or contact
                          Building Services, 312 996-7468.

Recommended Spill Kit (review literature for special instructions)

  1. Nitrile rubber gloves
  2. Polyethylene bags, at least 1mil weight, in 2 sizes, 24” X 36” and 12”X24”
  3. Plastic scooper (do not use metal for solvents; it may spark and cause ignition)
  4. Sorbent materials
    4.1.   Corrosives absorbent mix: sodium or calcium carbonate/bentonite (clay cat litter)/sand (1:1:1 mix w/w)
    4.2.   Chemical sorbent materials: pads and rolls commercially available from Grainger, (888) 361-8649,, (product # 2AJ14 or 5UZ48), Fisher Scientific at UIC (312) 413-0324,, (product # 17-215-1A or 19-052-053), Lab Safety Supply, (800) 356-0783, (product # 49255 or 126742). Vermiculite, activated charcoal, bentonite clay, or Oil-Dri may also be used but they are messier and less absorbent.

    4.3.   If devices containing mercury are used, Hg absorb sponges
    4.4.   Biohazard spill sorbent: paper towels soaked with 10% bleach
    4.5.   Antineoplastic Drug/CHEMO SPILL KIT, available from Chemo-Safety Systems, Division of
             Biosafety Systems Inc., San Diego, CA, (1-800-421-6556).
  5. Tape for sealing plastic bag with spill materials
  6. Hazardous Waste labels