Handling spills

Pre-planning is a must for determining the proper response to a spill of a chemical in your work area. This is especially crucial for chemicals you use on a regular basis. Your response will be determined by your evaluation in advance of the hazards of the material spilled:

High hazards:

Materials with a DDC that includes "PL" or "PS" (pyrophoric), "PH" (poison inhalation hazard), or an EPA Code of "D003" (reactivity).

Also, any chemical for which OSHA has set a ceiling or short-term exposure limit under 5 ppm per Appendix B of the Chemical Hygiene Plan, Column J (attachment lists these chemicals).*** Formaldehyde is a "high hazard" chemical.

Low hazards:

Non-flammable, non-corrosive materials that have very low toxicity and reactivity, these have DDC number of "05."

Medium hazards:

All others

Call DEHS 6-6002 days and 9-1-1 after hours for advice and response:

High Hazard: any spill over 2.5 Liters
Medium Hazard: any spill over 250 mls
Low Hazard: any spill over 25 mls

Call DEHS if you have any doubt about your ability to deal with any release.

***Some commonly used chemicals have low ceiling or short-term exposure limits. For example, formaldehyde has a short-term exposure limit of 2 ppm. For such chemicals, you may elect to have neutralizing agents on-site to suppress vapors while you wait for DEHS to arrive for clean-up or give you advise on the phone. For formaldehyde solutions, use a product like Spill-X-FP, Fisher Scientific #172006. Follow directions for use on the product container. If your eyes or nose become irritated during cleanup, leave the area and call Department of Environmental Health and Safety at 6-6002.

Andrew Phelan andyph@umn.edu
Assistant Director, Hazardous Waste Division
Department of Environmental Health & Safety
Integrated Waste Management Facility
University of Minnesota
501 23rd Avenue SE
Minneapolis MN 55455
PHONE: 612-626-7744
FAX: 612-626-1571