Chemical Spills

Updated October 04, 2011


Quick Response Guide and General Information

Chemical Spill Action Flow Diagram


General Information

Minor Hazardous materials or waste spills that present no immediate threat to personnel safety, health, or to the environment can be cleaned up by laboratory personnel that use the materials or generate the waste. A Minor hazardous material spill is generally defined as a spill of material that is not spilled in large quantity, does not present a significant fire hazard, can be recovered before it is released to the environment, and is not in a public area such as a common hallway. Such a spill can usually be controlled and cleaned up by one or two personnel.  See above flow chart to make sure all conditions are met before cleaning up a spill yourself.  To reach EHS for technical information or for clean up advice on minor spills, call 2-3477 during the day , or call FIXIT (3-4948) during off hours. The EHS Office offers spill kits for $50 (for the standard kit) that have all requisite absorbent material that could be needed in the case of a minor spill.  Additionally you can also order items like a ‘Doff-It’ kit which allows personnel to disrobe in privacy in the case of a spill on clothing.  For more on Spill Kits.  Additionally, after the spill is cleaned up, a hazardous waste pick up request should be requested so the material can be removed.  Please put in the comments section what happened and where the material for pick up is located.  

Major hazardous material and waste spills should be reported to the MIT emergency numbers to receive immediate professional assistance and support in the control and clean up of the spilled material. During business hours of 8-4.30 please call the EHS Office at (617) 452-3477.  During off hours or if you are unsure of who may need to be involved DIAL 100.  Major hazardous materials and waste spills are generally defined as having a significant threat to safety, health, or the environment. These spills generally are a highly toxic material or is spilled in large quantity, may present a significant fire hazard, cannot be recovered before it is released to the environment, or is spilled in a public area such as a common hallway. Upon reporting such a spill personnel should stand by at a safe distance to guide responders and spill clean up experts to the spill area.

In the case of a spill that presents a situation immediately dangerous to life or health, or a situation with significant risk of fire, personnel should evacuate the area and summon emergency assistance by dialing the MIT emergency number (x100), activating a fire alarm station, or both.  The more information you can provide to the emergency responders about the material the better. 

Hazardous material users and hazardous waste generators must be aware of the properties of the materials they use and the waste they generate. Properties of Materials are most commonly found in material safety data sheets and many publications. A good guide to finding other sources of information is found in "Prudent Practices in the Laboratory."

The EHS Office offers spill kits for $50.00.  All labs should have spill materials available at all times.  Please see the EHS Spill Kit page for information on ordering a kit.