Office of Research

Procedure B

ADDITIONAL PROCEDURES AND PRECAUTIONS FOR WORKING WITH SUBSTANCES OF KNOWN HIGH CHRONIC TOXICITY 

All of the procedures and precautions described above should be followed when working with substances known to have high chronic toxicity (Procedure A). In addition, when such substances are to be used in quantities in excess of a few milligrams to a few grams (depending on the hazard posed by the particular substance), the additional precautions described below (termed Procedure B) should be used. Laboratory work involving these chemicals must have approval of the IBC and arrangements for disposal of waste materials must be made with the Hazardous Waste Manager of the Department of Environmental Health and Safety.

Substances in this high-chronic-toxicity category include certain heavy metal compounds (e.g., dimethylmercury and nickel carbonyl) and compounds normally classified as strong carcinogens.

Accurate records of the amounts of such substances being stored and of the amounts used, dates of use, and names of users should be maintained. It may be appropriate to keep such records as part of the books, but it must be understood that the research supervisor is responsible for ensuring that accurate records are kept. Any volatile substances having high chronic toxicity should be stored in a ventilated storage area in a secondary tray or container having sufficient capacity to contain the material should the primary container accidentally break. All containers of substances of this category should have labels that identify the contents and include a warning such as the following: WARNING! HIGH CHRONIC TOXICITY or CANCER-SUSPECT AGENT! Storage areas for substances in this category should have limited access, and special signs should be posted if a special toxicity hazard exists. Any area used for storage of substances of high chronic toxicity should be maintained under negative pressure with respect to surrounding areas.

All experiments with and transfers of such substances or mixtures containing such substances should be done in a controlled area. A controlled area in this case could be a laboratory, a portion of a laboratory, or a facility such as an exhaust hood or a glove box that is designed for the use of highly toxic substances. Its use need not be restricted to the handling of toxic substances if all personnel who have access to the controlled area are aware of the nature of the substances being used and the precautions that are necessary. When a negative-pressure glove box in which work is done through attached gloves is used, the ventilation rate in the glove box should be at least two volume changes per hour, the pressure should be at least 0.5 inches of water lower than that of the external environment, and the exit gases should be passed through a trap or HEPA filter. Positive-pressure glove boxes are normally used to provide an inert anhydrous atmosphere. If these glove boxes are used with highly toxic compounds, then the box should be thoroughly checked for leaks before each use and the exit gases should be passed through a suitable trap or filter. Laboratory vacuum pumps used with substances having high chronic toxicity should be protected by high-efficiency scrubbers or HEPA filters and vented into an exhaust hood. Motor-driven vacuum pumps are recommended because they are easy to decontaminate (Note: decontamination of a vacuum pump should be carried out in an exhaust hood). Controlled areas should be clearly marked with a conspicuous sign such as the following: WARNING: TOXIC SUBSTANCE IN USE or CANCER-SUSPECT AGENT: AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ONLY. Only authorized and instructed personnel should be allowed to work in or have access to controlled areas.

Proper gloves should be worn when transferring or otherwise handling substances or solutions of substances having high chronic toxicity. In some cases, the laboratory worker or the research supervisor may deem it advisable to use other protective apparel. Extreme precautions such as these might be taken, for example, when handling large amounts of certain heavy metals and their derivatives or compounds known to be potent carcinogens. Surfaces on which high-chronic-toxicity substances are handled should be protected from contamination by using chemically resistant trays or pans that can be decontaminated after the experiment or by using dry, absorbent, plastic-backed paper that can be disposed of after use.

On leaving the controlled area, laboratory workers should remove any protective apparel that has been used and thoroughly wash hands, forearms, face, and neck. If disposable apparel or absorbent paper liners have been used, these items should be placed in a closed and impervious container that should then be labeled in some manner such as the following: CAUTION: CONTENTS CONTAMINATED WITH SUBSTANCES OF HIGH CHRONIC TOXICITY. Nondisposable protective apparel should be thoroughly washed, and containers of disposable apparel and paper liners should be incinerated.

Normal laboratory work should not be resumed in a space that has been used as a controlled area until it has been adequately decontaminated. Work surfaces should be thoroughly washed and rinsed. If experiments have involved the use of finely divided solid materials, dry sweeping should not be done. In such cases, surfaces should be cleaned by wet mopping or by use of a vacuum cleaner equipped with a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter. All equipment (e.g., glassware, vacuum traps, and containers) that is known or suspected to have been in contact with substances of high chronic toxicity should be washed and rinsed before they are removed from the controlled area.