Office of Research

4. Chemical Procurement, Distribution, and Storage

a.     Procurement

  • Avoid the purchase of unnecessary volumes of chemicals
  • Before a substance is received, information on proper handling, storage, and disposal should be known to those who will be involved.
  • No container should be accepted without an adequate identifying label.
  • All substances should be received in a central location.
  • If a Safety Data Sheet has been sent with the package, it should be distributed to the user. No hazardous chemical should be used unless the safety data sheet is available to the user.
  • If you do not receive an SDS with the chemical, request one from the manufacturer or find it online. There are SDS links on our website:

b.    Stockrooms/storerooms

Where stockrooms and storerooms exist, these conditions apply:

  • Toxic substances should be segregated in a well-identified area with local exhaust ventilation.
  • Stored chemicals should be inspection periodically (at least quarterly) for replacement, deterioration, and container integrity. Areas of stockrooms where chemicals that may become dangerous or form dangerous by-products should be inspected monthly.
  • They should not be used as preparation or re-packaging areas,
  • They should be opened during normal working hours,
  • They must be controlled/managed by an assigned manager.

c.     Distribution 

  • When chemicals are hand carried, the container should be placed in an outside container or acid-carrying bucket to protect against breakage and spillage. Secondary containment is especially important when chemicals are moved in public areas, such as hallways or elevators.
  • When they are transported on a wheeled cart, the cart should be stable under the load and have wheels large enough to negotiate uneven surfaces (such as expansion joints and floor drain depressions) without tipping or stopping suddenly.
  • Freight-only elevators should be used if possible.
  • Provisions for the safe transport of small quantities of flammable liquids include the use of rugged pressure-resistant, non-venting containers and elimination of potential ignition sources.
  • All chemical containers being transported shall have labels identifying the contents and associated hazards.

d.     Transportation: The use of personal vehicles and public transportation for the  transport of hazardous materials is prohibited at all Clemson University facilities.  This includes but is not limited to dry ice, liquid nitrogen, laboratory chemicals, gas cylinders, biological agents, radioactive materials and materials of trade.  For guidance and assistance on transporting hazardous materials, contact Research Safety at 656-0341.

e.     Shipment: Hazardous materials shipments are subject to the regulations of the U.S.

Department Of Transportation (D.O.T.) until the containers are opened for use. Packages of hazardous materials may not be left unattended on a loading dock. Special DOT training is required for those persons who package and ship hazardous materials.

f.     Laboratory storage

  • All incoming containers of hazardous chemicals must have appropriate labels that are not removed or defaced.
  • Laboratory chemicals should be labeled as to the date they are received. Chemical that for peroxides or otherwise decompose to form hazardous by-products must also have a date opened and a target date for disposal added to the container. Refer to Appendix E for a list of common laboratory chemicals that may become unstable with time. 
  • Amounts permitted should be as small as practical. Storage on bench tops and in chemical hoods should be avoided.
  • Chemicals in the laboratory should be segregated (see Appendix B, Lab Safety Manual) and safely stored. Acids, bases, corrosives, oxidizers, and toxics should be separated from one another by space and secondary containment.
  • Flammable liquids should be kept in NFPA-approved flammable liquid storage cabinets or flammable storage cans. Flammable storage cans of no more than 2 gal. capacity may be used. Also, they must be metal and be equipped with a flash arrestor. No more than 10 gallons of flammable liquids (combined usable product and hazardous waste) may be stored outside of approved flammable storage cabinets in any one lab area. An additional 10 gallons may be stored in approved safety cans.  See Appendix B, Lab Safety Manual. 
  • Absolute ethyl alcohol must be stored in locked cabinets with controlled access.
  • Exposure to heat or direct sunlight should be avoided.
  • Laboratory chemicals should not be stored under a sink. 
  • Strong acids or bases or unsealed toxic chemicals can be stored in ventilated base of chemical hoods but separation should be provided to prevent cross-mixing. Mild acids and bases such as citric acid and sodium carbonate may be stored with other low-hazard reagents. 
  • Open shelves used for chemical storage should have a retaining lip approximately 2” in height.
  • Open shelves should be used for low-hazard, stable chemicals. The higher shelves should be used for smaller containers of the lowest hazard chemicals. Avoid storing chemicals in glass containers on high shelves unless they are secondarily contained in unbreakable containers with lids. Highly toxic chemicals should not be stored on open shelves, but rather should be secondarily contained in unbreakable containers in closed cabinets. Cabinets for storing highly toxic, carcinogenic, mutagenic, etc. chemicals should be vented into the lab exhaust system.

Inventory:  The laboratory or area supervisor, or his/her designee, should maintain a list of all hazardous chemicals known to be present in each laboratory or area and keep the list updated. Unneeded and no longer useful chemicals should be properly disposed (Refer to your "Hazardous Waste Management" Manual).  The inventory should identify each hazardous chemical by the primary name on the label, manufacturer or distributor of the chemical, the Chemical Abstract Number (CAS), the quantity, and an indication of the availability of a Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for that chemical. The inventory should be kept in a readily accessible location A hazardous chemicals inventory should be submitted to RS by the 15th of February of each year using the form found on our website at:   Submit the inventory to