Controlling Exposures

Chemical Hygiene Plan

Consulting, Monitoring, and Inspections by EH&S

EH&S provides chemical exposure monitoring, laboratory safety consulting, and regulatory compliance inspections for all laboratories on campus. To schedule these services, contact EH&S at or (510) 642-3073.

Food and drink are prohibited in labs except in certain limited conditions. If certain criteria are met, a lab can set-up a “Clean Area” where food is allowed. See the Food in Laboratories Policy for complete details. Contact EH&S at or 642-3073 for “Clean Area” stickers if your lab meets the criteria outlined in the policy.

Self-Assessment Program

Annual workplace inspections are required by each department’s Injury and Illness Protection Program. Completing a Laboratory Safety Self-inspection fulfills this requirement. Assign individuals to correct any deficiencies and retain copies of the completed inspection forms in the laboratory in case of an inspection by a regulatory agency.

Safety Data Sheets (SDS, formerly MSDS)

Laboratories are required to maintain copies of all Safety Data Sheets (SDS) that are received with shipments of incoming hazardous chemicals. SDSs should be organized (perhaps in a binder) so that they are readily accessible and can be used as a training resource. Many SDSs can also be obtained here. Paper copies of SDSs for chemicals used in the laboratory that are not online must be stored in an easily accessible location in the laboratory as noted in the lab-specific CHP Flipchart. If an SDS is not available online and the manufacturer did not provide one with the chemical when it was purchased, contact the manufacturer to obtain a copy of the SDS.

If a new chemical is synthesized in the lab, to the best extent possible, all the same information and training is required as for any other hazardous material.

Emergency Eyewash/Showers

Cal/OSHA requires that all emergency eyewashes be tested monthly to ensure operation and to flush out contamination. Laboratories are responsible for testing their emergency eyewashes and documenting each test (tags are provided by EH&S). Emergency showers are inspected annually by the Facilities Services (formerly PP-CS). These tests are also documented with a tag that is usually attached to the shower pull ring. If your emergency shower has not been inspected within the last year, request service from Facilities Services.

Chemical Inventory Program

By law, the laboratory’s chemical inventory must be updated and submitted to EH&S every year, and whenever there have been significant changes to the inventory. This is necessary to comply with local regulations, including community right-to-know regulations and provides vital information for emergency responders such as the Berkeley Fire Department. EH&S coordinates the campus Chemical Inventory Program and submits copies to regulatory agencies. If you have questions about the Chemical Inventory Program, contact EH&S. (Note: This program excludes radioactive materials, which are inventoried under the Radiation Safety Information System).

Portable Fire Extinguishers

The California Code of Regulations, Title 19 requires that all fire extinguishers are inspected monthly and serviced annually. Facilities Services (formerly PP-CS) is responsible for performing these tasks. If you notice that the fire extinguisher in your lab hasn’t been checked in the past month, contact Facilities Services.

Unwanted Chemicals

Do not dispose of unwanted chemicals down a drain or by evaporation. See the EH&S publications Restrictions for Drain Disposal of Chemicals and Guidelines for Minimizing Toxic Air Contaminant Emissions, for more details. For removal of unwanted hazardous chemicals:

Hazardous waste must be disposed of through the Hazardous Waste Program. For more details, see the Hazardous Waste Program Fact Sheet.

Chemical Fume Hoods

Use a chemical fume hood when working with hazardous chemicals that can volatize or aerosolize. EH&S provides the following services:

  • Testing hoods annually to confirm they comply with Cal/OSHA requirements.
  • Tagging or marking hoods that do not meet Cal/OSHA requirements. Hoods marked “unsatisfactory” must never be used for handling hazardous chemicals.
  • Providing additional fume hood evaluations upon request.

Each fume hood is equipped with a mechanical or electronic airflow sensor and/or alarms. Confirm that the hood is operating properly before using it by looking at the fume hood airflow sensor. Instructions for the most common airflow sensors are found here. Contact EH&S at or 642-3073 if there is no flow monitoring device installed or if you want confirmation that your existing airflow monitor is accurate. If your fume hood is not working properly, you can directly contact your building manager or Department Safety Coordinator to initiate repairs by Facilities Services. See the hard copy Chemical Hygiene Plan posted in your lab for contact numbers.

For a Fact Sheet and short video on the proper use of a fume hood, go to the EH&S Fume Hood webpage.

Respiratory Protection

Fume hoods typically provide adequate respiratory protection for most hazardous materials used in a laboratory. If you are unsure whether your fume hood will provide adequate protection for the work you plan to perform, contact EH&S about the possible use of a respirator.

All respirator users on campus must be part of the Campus Respiratory Protection Program. EH&S, with assistance from University Health Services, administers this program. Required elements of the program include:

  • Fit testing, training, and respirator selection to ensure that respirators will be effective.
  • Medical screening of respirator users to ensure user safety.
  • Evaluation of the workplace to ensure the respirator will provide adequate protection. If you believe that your work requires a respirator or have questions about respirator use, call EH&S at or 642-3073.

Working with Particularly Hazardous Substances

Cal/OSHA requires that special precautions be taken when working with particularly hazardous substances. Such materials include:

  • Carcinogens such as benzene, certain arsenic compounds, formaldehyde, and vinyl chloride. See Carcinogens Fact Sheet and carcinogens SOP template for more details.
  • Highly Toxic Substances: Usually defined as substances whose oral lethal dose (LD50) is less than 50 mg/kg (rat) or substances which cause adverse effects from a single exposure, such as most cyanide salts, arsenic compounds, and organic mercury compounds.
  • Acutely Toxic Substances: A substance that results in adverse effects from a single exposure
  • Reproductive Hazards: Examples include ethylene oxide, lead compounds, and mercury compounds.

Special Precautions

Ensure SOPs are developed and applicable staff receives documented training on working with these materials. The SOPs must address the following:

  • Establish a designated area where this work is performed and post it with signs that identify the Particularly Hazardous Substance. Eating, drinking, and storage of food or personal items must not be allowed in the designated area. Personal protective equipment must be removed and hands must be washed after working there.
  • Use containment devices such as fume hoods, gloveboxes, or downdraft tables.
  • Procedures for safe removal of contaminated waste (See the Hazardous Waste Program Fact Sheet).
  • Use contamination control and decontamination procedures. Laboratory coats, closed-toe shoes, impermeable gloves, and safety glasses or goggles should be worn when handling Particularly Hazardous Substances. For assistance selecting appropriate personal protective equipment, contact EH&S at or 642-3073.

Hazard Identification (Labels)

Cal/OSHA requires that labels on incoming containers of hazardous chemicals not be removed or defaced. Should a label become damaged, re-label the container. Be sure that all labels are readable, list the chemical components and concentration, and have appropriate health hazard warnings such as "corrosive," or "carcinogen." If you have questions about labeling requirements, contact EH&S at or (510) 642-3073.