Stanford University

Air-Sensitive or Highly Reactive Compounds

Given the risks posed by air-sensitive materials, it is important to review and utilize procedures that prevent accidental release. Below are basic safe laboratory practices that will help minimize researcher safety risks when handling reactive materials. Cal/OSHA regulations for chemical hygiene require that each laboratory have a documented plan, including a process for review and safe management of highly hazardous substances in the laboratory.

  • For higher hazard chemicals (e.g. highly reactive or unstable materials, carcinogens, highly toxic chemicals, and reproductive toxins), researchers must consult with the PI regarding special safety precautions.
  • When dealing with higher hazard chemicals and operations, a written standard operating procedure (SOP) is an effective tool for helping lab personnel clearly understand pertinent hazard information, safety precautions, proper work procedures, emergency procedures, and training requirements. Personnel should review the SOP periodically. See the General Use SOP for Highly Reactive and Unstable Materials for guidance.
  • Never work alone when handling higher hazard chemicals. Others present in the lab must be familiar with the operation’s hazards and specific emergency procedures.
  • Ensure that lab coats, eye protection, and appropriate chemical-resistant gloves are worn when handling hazardous chemicals. See Personal Protective Equipment.
  • Personnel handling hazardous chemicals must know the location of necessary emergency equipment (e.g. eyewash/showers, fire extinguishers, etc.) and how to properly use them.

For further assistance, consult with the PI or contact EH&S at (650) 723-0448.


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