Chemical Management

Chemical Inventory Tagging and Maximum Allowable Quantities (MAQ)

The California Fire Code establishes requirements for Maximum Allowable Quantities (MAQ) of hazardous materials, which ensures amounts used and stored within buildings do not pose fire and life risks. The University of California Office of the President (UCOP) issued requirements that all labs, shops, and storage areas with hazardous chemicals do not exceed MAQ. 

RSS Chemicals is the systemwide chemical inventory database that is used to tag and identify chemicals. The application is designed to be a live system for location information on every hazardous material on campus. Maintaining chemical inventories to a very high accuracy is the first phase in reaching campus-wide MAQ compliance.

To maintain effective chemical management safety practices across all UC Berkeley facilities and reduce potential risks, Supervisors and Principal Investigators should promptly cooperate with EH&S on all matters related to MAQ compliance. 

Tagging Benefits

Tagging as a standard chemical safety management practice will:

  • Improve chemical inventory accuracy

  • Make it easier to locate chemicals

  • Reduce redundancy of chemical purchases

  • Streamline annual reconciliation

EH&S is performing initial tagging

Over the next two years, EH&S and Triumvirate, a third party vendor, are evaluating all campus locations with hazardous chemicals, including labs, shops, and storage areas, to tag and scan all chemicals into Chemicals

What to Expect

  • A team of up to 6 people will come into your lab to perform the work

    • Depending on size of space
    • Space supervisors should plan for possible interruption to operations 
    • Some locations will need to assist EH&S and Triumvirate during the tagging for unique, complex, or highly hazardous inventories

  • They will be placing unique codes on each chemical container and the areas where the chemicals will be stored -- i.e., a specified sublocation for chemical containers.

  • Each tag will be scanned into Chemicals

  • Specific information about the container’s contents, including hazards, container size, and physical state will be included for each container.

Each department, lab, and group will have the opportunity to collaborate with EH&S and Triumvirate to determine the most appropriate process for their unique chemical inventories.

Unwanted chemicals disposal

As part of this tagging initiative, routine hazardous waste can now be disposed of without recharge.

You can alsohave unwanted chemicals disposed of while the tagging team comes to your space. Please separate out unwanted chemicals for disposal before the team begins tagging. Our hazardous waste team will pick these items up separately either the day of tagging or up to 3 business days after. Questions can be directed to EH&S and Triumvirate during the location walkthroughs.

Responsibilities of Supervisors and Personnel Who Handle Chemicals

Maintaining an accurate chemical inventory is both a regulatory requirement for using, handling, and storing hazardous materials as well as a cornerstone for effectively communicating and managing chemical safety. After initial EH&S-supported tagging is complete, ALL campus locations will be expected to tag ALL new incoming chemicals, remove tags on all empty containers or containers, and note all inventory updates in RSS Chemicals

This web page will be updated as more resources become available.

Frequently Asked Questions

What chemicals will be tagged?

Chemicals that need to be tagged include, but are not limited to:

chemicals in manufacturer bottles compressed gases liquefied gases hazardous commercial products

Our team will work with you to determine any other chemicals that need to be tagged.

What are Maximum Allowable Quantities (MAQ)?

Maximum Allowable Quantities are maximum limits of storage and use of hazardous chemicals as established by the California Fire Code to ensure fire and life safety of occupants and first responders. MAQs will depend on the quantities, types and physical state of hazardous materials. It will also depend on building characteristics.

In the coming years, the university will conduct an analysis of MAQ levels in all buildings across campus, which will depend on complete and accurate chemical inventories.

How do we dispose of unwanted waste?

Before tagging begins, take an hour or two to sort through your chemicals and separate unwanted waste. Centralize waste in a secure location with secondary containment. Our hazardous waste team will pick up the waste separately either the day of tagging or up to 3 business days after.

How can I prepare for tagging?

Review the items within the pre-tagging checklist

EH&S has a standard process of conducting a walkthrough of spaces in the week(s) before tagging begins. More information will be provided during the walkthroughs and within the email correspondence to set up those meetings.

What if the tag doesn't stick to chemical containers?

Tags will have difficulty adhering to containers with condensation. Dry the container before affixing the tag. If there are other factors preventing tag adhesion, reach out to EH&S at for advice.

Will chemical tagging occur during the walkthrough?

No. Tagging will occur generally a week after the walkthrough. Our team will work with you to schedule your tagging appointment(s).

How long will it take for EH&S to tag my inventory?

It depends on the amount of chemicals you have in your inventory, and how large your space is. Our team can tag 200 containers/day on average.