Chemical Safety and Procedures


Date: Fri, 13 May 2005 10:09:24 -0400
From: Danielle Donkersloot
Subject: [CSREESVolMon] safety procedures & volunteers

I am looking for input as to how some of the other monitoring groups deal with and safety procedures for the volunteers using chemical kits.

“As part of our chemical monitoring program, we have drafted a memo on chemical safety procedures for the chemical volunteers. The memo lists all of the chemicals that the CATs use while sampling, and tells them how hazardous it is and what to do if they spill the chemical, accidentally eat it, etc. However, some of the antidotes for the spills are not common substances. For example, if a volunteer spills alkaline potassium iodide azide, they need to neutralize it with dilute hydrochloric acid. Hydrochloric acid is not a common household substance. We’re wondering if we need to even send this memo to the volunteers, and if so, do we need to supply them with hydrochloric acid in case they spill something? We have a large spill kit in our office. Do we need to supply our volunteers with spillĀ kits? If you have any experience with chemical programs and could provide us with how you handle this?”

Any input or advise you could provide us on this matter would be great!

“In order to achieve something, you must get started” Fortune Cookie
Danielle Donkersloot
609-633-9241 (direct line)
609-633-1458 (fax)
PO Box 418
Trenton, NJ 08625


Date: Fri, 13 May 2005 11:35:41 -0400
From: Linda Green
Subject: RE: [CSREESVolMon] chemical safety procedures & volunteers

Hi folks,

In terms of chemical safety the first course of action is to thoroughly rinse the affected area with water, even using the water you just collected. We had 1 volunteer (a chemist mind you) spill alkaline potassium hydride on himself and not wanting to contaminate the stream, drive home before washing it off. So now we explicitly remind our volunteers to plunge their hands into the water. We also tell them that even if they took all the reagents in the DO kit and poured it into the water it would not harm the water. Forget the HCl, you are just substituting one potentially hazardous material with another. Often info on how to deal with a spill assumes you are in a lab. If you are using LaMotte kits, contact LaMotte at 800-344-3100. Linda Watts is the person I deal with, she is quite knowledgeable. If you are using another brand contact the manufacturer and tell them that what you are looking for is advice for volunteers, not if the chemical is spilled in a lab. We do supply the notoriously hard to decipher MSDS’ with the kits, and also give the kits out with a strong rubber band around it to help make sure it doesn’t get knocked over. You can also purchase absorbent pads from a variety of scientific supply houses. Our Safety and Risk department has given all labs a bucket of sand to pour on spills. Garden soil works well too. We give all our volunteers goggles and at least 1 pair of nitrile gloves. We don’t expect the gloves to last all season but to serve as a reminder to use gloves, which they can buy in hardware stores or supermarkets. We tell our volunteers to keep a roll of paper towels handy. We also give our volunteers paper plates (Chinet brand) and urge them to do all their titrations on the plate. The plates are fairly thick, the top is more absorbent than the really shiny ones and the lip of the plate contains most spills. The 6 3/4″ plates will contain 100 ml and the 8 3/4″ ones, 300 ml of liquid (I just checked). We are now also using these paper plates in the lab, especially for salinity titrations which involveĀ the use of silver nitrate, which stains everything brown. The best approach to safety is training carefully and thoroughly and using common sense.

Good luck!
Linda Green

URI Cooperative Extension Water Quality
Department of Natural Resources Science
1 Greenhouse Road
Kingston, RI 02881-0804