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Spill Response Procedures

Chemical spills may occur during the course of normal laboratory activity. Below are several standard procedures to follow when such a spill occurs. In all cases, common sense should be your guide. If a spill occurs which is beyond your capacity to deal with effectively, immediately contact the environmental health and safety officer at x 1608, as well as the Chemistry Stock Room in M606. If neither option is immediately available, contact Campus Security at x55.

Chemical Spill Response

Spills of chemicals must be recognized as being potentially hazardous to all persons involved. The range and quantity of hazardous chemicals used in the Long Island University Brooklyn Campus laboratory require preplanning to respond safely to spills. The cleanup of a chemical spill should only be done by knowledgeable and experienced personnel.

Spill kits that include absorbents, neutralizing agent and personal protective equipment are available on each floor to clean up minor spills. A minor chemical spill is one where there has been no personal injury and the laboratory staff is capable of handling safely without the assistance of safety or emergency personnel. All other chemical spills are considered major chemical spills. This Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) below has been developed to ensure that Brooklyn Campus personnel know what action to take in the case of a chemical spill.

Report ALL spills requiring use of spill kits to the Environmental Health and Safety Manager at 718-488-1608.

Minor Chemical Spills

Procedures

Do not attempt to clean up a spill of any hazardous chemical larger than 500 ml or a spill involving chemicals that are highly toxic by yourself. You should know the hazards associated with any chemicals used in your laboratory or classroom by consulting the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) before using them, and you should know how to respond to a chemical spill. Long Island University’s Brooklyn Campus has developed the following protocol for responding to chemical spills.

Minor Chemical Spill

In the event of a minor spill:

  • Alert people in the immediate area of the spill
  • Don personal protective equipment including, at a minimum, safety goggles, gloves
  • and long-sleeve lab coat
  • Avoid breathing vapors from spill
  • Confine spill to small area
  • Use appropriate spill kit materials to neutralize, absorb and clean up the spilled chemical
  • Collect the residue and place in a compatible container. Label the container with a hazardous waste label completed to identify the contents and manage as hazardous waste until a proper hazardous waste determination can be made.
  • Notify the Supervisor and/or environmental health and safety manager at 718-488-1608 if a spill kit was used to respond to the spill.

Major Chemical Spill

In the event of a major chemical spill: Immediately attend to injured/exposed personnel, evacuate the area, close the door, notify any persons in adjacent areas and call Public Safety (“55”) to provide the following information:

  • Your name and phone number
  • Name(s) of personnel injured/exposed
  • What spilled and how much?
  • Where did spill occur?

Remain calm. Leave the spill area but stay in a safe area near the spill. Provide the environmental health and safety manager or other emergency response personnel with information on what was spilled, the amount spilled, the MSDS, if available, any injuries or exposures and how incident occurred.

If you or other lab personnel have suffered from a chemical exposure or are feeling any symptoms as described on the MSDS, notify your supervisor, go to the nearest Emergency Department immediately and tell the Emergency Department physicians you have been exposed to a chemical spill. Supervisors should inform the environmental health and safety manager of any person requiring medical treatment. All faculty, students and staff should be aware of the location of the nearest hospital and the shortest route from the Brooklyn Campus to the Emergency Department.

The Brooklyn Hospital Center, located at 121 DeKalb Avenue in Brooklyn, is the closest hospital to the Campus. Take the MSDS with you — the Registry of Toxic Effects of Chemical Substances (RTECS) and Chemical Abstract Service (CAS) numbers can assist the physicians in obtaining treatment information.

  • If someone is exposed to a spill and is unconscious, move them if you can do so at no risk to yourself and call Public Safety (“55”) immediately.

Mercury Spill Response

If mercury goes down the drain, contact the environmental health and safety manager at 718-488-1608 immediately. Do not run the water. Cover the drain with plastic to reduce evaporation into indoor air if possible. A mercury spill of 1 pound (2 tablespoons) or more must be reported to the New York State DEC Spill Hotline: 1-800-457-7362 within two hours. Larger mercury spills must be cleaned up by a licensed contractor.

Small Mercury Spill (Less Than Two Tablespoons)

A properly trained person may clean up a small mercury spill by following these steps (applicable for mercury thermometer spills on smooth surfaces):

  • Isolate the area by marking off the spill to prevent inadvertent spreading of the mercury.
  • Wear two pairs of chemically resistant gloves (nitrile or silver shield), lab coat, and eye protection during cleanup operations.
  • Using a scraper, push the scattered mercury droplets together into one or more larger droplets.
  • Aspirate the larger mercury droplet(s) and transfer into a zip-lock bag or screw top container.
  • Sprinkle mercury absorbent powder lightly over the remaining micro-droplets of mercury.
  • Spray a water mist over the powder.
  • Using the scraper, mix the materials into a paste amalgam. The resulting substance will not emit dangerous mercury vapors.
  • Scoop up the amalgam and wipe down the surfaces with a scraper and a damp sponge.
  • Place the amalgam, sponge, gloves, scraper, scoop and all other mercury contaminated debris (spill cleanup material) into the zip-lock bag or container. Tape sharp ends of the broken glass thermometer and also place it into the bag or container. Properly label the container with the word “Hazardous Waste Mercury Spill Debris” and the contact and room number. Place the container in the laboratory’s Satellite Accumulation Area (SAA). Do not transport the waste material to an SAA in another room or laboratory.
    Federal and state regulations require that spill debris be stored at or near the location of the spill or brought immediately to the hazardous waste storage area (Room 502C in Metcalfe Hall or Room C-7 of the Wet Lab Building).

All large mercury spills that occur at LIU Brooklyn must be cleaned by a licensed contractor. Therefore, call the Environmental Health and Safety Manager immediately at 718-488-1608 to report the spill and to initiate a cleanup. Do not attempt to clean up a mercury spill unless you have been properly trained to do so. If mercury does go down the drain, contact the Environmental Health and Safety Manager at (718) 488-1608 immediately. Do not run the water. Cover the drain with plastic to reduce evaporation into indoor air if possible.

Large Mercury Spill (Greater Than Two Tablespoons)

All large mercury spills that occur at the Brooklyn Campus must be cleaned by a licensed contractor. Therefore, call the environmental health and safety manager immediately at (718) 488-1608 to report the spill and to initiate a cleanup. Do not attempt to clean up a mercury spill unless you have been properly trained to do so. If mercury does go down the drain, contact the environmental health and safety manager at 718-488-1608 immediately. Do not run the water. Cover the drain with plastic to reduce evaporation into indoor air if possible.

  • Contain the area to prevent spreading the mercury.
  • Evacuate the room or affected area immediately. Open exterior windows to ventilate the room. Keep people away to prevent tracking.
  • Shut down any ventilation system that would spread mercury vapor to other areas. Lower the temperature if possible because this lowers the amount of mercury that can vaporize. Cover the mercury with plastic to reduce evaporation into indoor air if the mercury is not going to be cleaned up immediately and is confined to a small area.
  • Keep anyone who may have been contaminated in a separate room until they can change their clothing and shoes, and remove other articles such as watches or jewelry. If possible, have people shower or at least wash thoroughly before changing into fresh clothes. This protects other people from mercury contamination and prevents the mercury from spreading further.
  • Do not return contaminated items, such as clothing, to the owner. Instead, double bag, label and secure these items as hazardous waste until proper cleaning or disposal/recycling can be arranged.
  • Close the doors and ventilate to the outside by opening windows and activating any existing exhaust fan that vents to the outside. Bringing auxiliary fans to the area is not recommended.
  • Never use a vacuum cleaner, mop or broom to clean up a mercury spill! Heat from the vacuum's motor will increase the amount of mercury vapor in the air. Mops and brooms will spread the mercury, making proper cleanup more difficult and costly. The vacuum cleaner, mop or broom will become contaminated and require disposal as hazardous waste.
  • Never pour mercury down a sink drain or any other drain because the mercury may get trapped in the plumbing and continue to vaporize.