Safety Information

Department Safety Training


Understanding and Avoiding Chemical Transfer in the Laboratory--11/28/2016

Inadvertent transfer of chemicals can, and does, happen while working in the laboratory especially when best practices for handling and use of chemicals are not followed. This statement highlights common activities that may lead to chemical transfer and outlines preventative lab behavior that reduces or avoids exposure to chemicals by inadvertent transfer. There are several common activities which could easily result in chemicals being transferred from one part of the body to another or from one surface to another. These are often unconscious behaviors that you must learn to avoid while working in the lab. Examples of common activities that could result in inadvertent chemical transfer are:

• Placing your pen in your mouth or lifting your goggles to rub your eyes or face. You should always assume that any object or surface in a chemistry lab may be contaminated with chemicals.

• Handling your computer or phone while in lab. Your instructor will advise you of their class policy on cell phone use. Having devices out in lab is often convenient, but be very aware of chemical transfer when using them. Always remove gloves prior to use and do not lay the devices directly on the benchtop unless you have wiped it down. Never lay your phone next to an area where you are actively working with chemicals. A contaminated phone will transfer chemicals right to your face. A chemical spill on a cell phone, a rather expensive item, will result in disposal of that item as hazardous waste. Consider protecting cell phones by placing them in a baggie while you are in lab.

• Not removing gloves when leaving the lab. Upon completion of an experiment or other laboratory work, your gloves should be removed and your hands washed. Gloves should always be removed prior to leaving the lab so that you do not contaminate doorknobs and other surfaces. However, if you are transferring chemicals from one room to another, the chemical(s) should be in a secondary container such as a carry tote and only the hand actively handling the tote should be gloved. The other hand should be glove free to open doors.