Chemical Storage Refresher-Environmental Health & Safety - Carnegie Mellon University

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Chemical Storage Refresher

I took a trip through a few labs recently and feel that a refresher session in chemical storage might be in order.   What caught my eye were very, very old bottles of acid, clearly not to be used, and in another location, many large bottles of hazardous chemicals stored on the floor, in easy range to being kicked.

Looking around a bit more, in other labs, I saw a lot of very hazardous, volatile and corrosive chemicals stored well up above easy reach of a person who might want to get them down for use.  Every attempt should be made to avoid storing chemicals above one’s head.  A slight slip of handling may cause the bottle to hit you before hitting the ground and drenching you and your lab with its contents.

I know that space is at a premium on campus and there are always challenges in providing safe storage.  Nevertheless, please be sure that all chemicals are placed in sturdy, stable locations, at or below eye level, and far enough from the edge of a shelf to NOT be a problem should someone brush into the container.

Finally, remember that very old and dusty chemicals will raise questions from any outside auditor (such as the EPA or DEP) as to whether they are useful or are, in fact, hazardous waste that is not well managed.

Also, keep your chemicals upright, not like in the photo above!
Keep your chemicals in a useful condition (watch expiration dates), or turn them in as hazardous waste for removal.

By: Mark Banister,, 412-268-1493