Chemical Safety

Ensuring the safe and compliant use of chemicals on campus.

Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for Labs

A standard operating procedure (SOP) is a set of instructions for performing experiments or processes that involve hazards (chemical, physical, biological, radiation). SOPs are lab-specific and include documentation of the people who have received training for that procedure.

New students and employees working in your lab should be provided with hands-on training for hazardous materials and operations that are covered by the SOPs for your lab.

SOPs by Hazard Type General Lab Safety

A library of SOP templates for common hazardous chemicals and operations is available in the...

Safety Data Sheets

Safety data sheets (formerly MSDS) are the best source of information regarding the hazards, emergency response, and protective measures for any hazardous material.

Manufacturers are always the most reliable sources for SDSs, and the UC system has provided its researchers with UC SDS Resources, a systemwide website created to help locate SDSs and other chemical safety information. In addition,...

Chemical Explosion Causes Eye Injury

May 31, 2015

ANSI-approved safety glasses—and other personal protective equipment specified in the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)—are essential whenever working with hazardous materials. SOPs also indicate other precautions that must be followed to ensure safety, such as performing work with energetic or explosive materials behind a fume hood sash or blast shield.

What happened?

A graduate student researcher was working at a laboratory bench synthesizing approximately one gram of diazonium perchlorate crystals. The student was transferring synthesized perchlorate using a metal spatula...

Lab Self-Inspection Checklist

Office of Environment, Health & Safety

Reviewing the EH&S lab self-inspection checklist is a good way to prepare for inspections. The department safety coordinator for each department or an EH&S lab safety specialist will reach out to each lab to schedule an inspection time.

Contact the campus chemical hygiene officer at (510) 643-6381 or with any questions or concerns about the EH&S General Lab Safety Inspection Program.

Peroxide Explosion Injures Campus Researcher

November 30, 2006
What Happened?

An undergraduate student researcher was working at the laboratory bench when the apparatus she was using exploded, sending glass fragments into her face and upper torso. The researcher was using a rotary evaporator (rotovap) to remove organic solvents from an azobenzene precipitate. She adjusted the bottom flask which then exploded sending glass towards her face, hitting her safety goggles and forehead. Lab personnel helped her to the safety shower and called 911. She was taken by ambulance to the hospital where she received stitches above her eyes and other treatment...

Acetone Fire

July 31, 2008
What happened?

A student worker in a Berkeley campus laboratory was refilling squirt bottles with acetone from a larger dispensing container when he spilled approximately one cup of acetone liquid onto the floor. Due to lack of training, and/or an error in judgment, the student lit the acetone with a match to burn it off instead of following proper spill clean-up procedures. While doing so, the student accidentally knocked over another uncapped squirt bottle on the benchtop that was filled with acetone. This additional acetone ignited and set-off the fire sprinklers in the room,...

Oleylamine Chemical Burn

December 31, 2008
What happened? A laboratory researcher suffered a delayed chemical burn after only a few drops of a highly corrosive organic chemical splattered on his unprotected left forearm. The burns first appeared hours after exposure, got worse overnight, and eventually required treatment at a hospital.

forearm with spotted chemical burns

The researcher's forearm


Accidental Mixing of Bleach and Acid

October 31, 2009
What Happened?

A researcher working in a laboratory glassware washing area thought she should refresh the bleach solution for soaking lab glassware. In an "inattentive moment" she added fresh bleach to what she thought was the bleach soaking tub; unfortunately the tub did not contain bleach but contained 5% hydrochloric acid. The acid solution (with bleach) immediately turned from clear to yellow. She quickly realized that bleach and acid should never be mixed because toxic chlorine gas can be created. She immediately had everyone leave the room; she considered calling 911, but since...

Chemical Inventory 2020 Expectations

August 13, 2020

As a reminder, chemical inventory and door hazard signs should continue to be updated for both emergency response and regulatory purposes. However, we understand that it may be difficult to perform a full survey of your group's inventory due to the constraints and limitations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Therefore, we ask that you update only significant changes in your inventory. EH&S will continue to check the dates on door hazard signs during lab inspections, and...