10.3 Carcinogenic, Reproductive and Highly Toxic Chemicals


OSHA defines certain carcinogens, reproductive toxins, and substances with high acute toxicity as Particularly Hazardous Substances (PHS) and requires that employers consider the need for precautions in addition to those for handling toxic substances.

Check the SDS to see if materials meet definitions below. The Hazardous Chemical PHS List available at the EHS website,   lists some common lab substances that meet these definitions.  Many chemicals will have the signal word “Danger” listed on the SDS and the “Health Hazard” pictogram as well as the “Danger” signal word on the container label.  More information about chemical hazard categories is presented in Appendix B.


Select Carcinogen – Any substance that meets one of the following criteria:

  1. It is regulated by OSHA as a carcinogen, or
  2. It is listed under the category “Known To Be Human Carcinogens” in the Annual Report on Carcinogens published by the National Toxicology Program (NTP) (latest editions), or
  3. It is listed under Group 1 (Carcinogenic To Humans) by the International Agency for Research on Cancer Monographs (IARC) (latest editions), or
  4. It is listed in either Group 2A (Probably Carcinogenic To Humans) or 2B (Possibly Carcinogenic To Humans) by IARC or under the category, “Reasonably Anticipated To Be Human Carcinogens” by NTP, and causes statistically significant tumor incidence in experimental animals in accordance with any of the following criteria:
  • After inhalation exposure of 6-7 hours per day, 5 days per week, for a significant portion of a lifetime, to dosages of less than 10 mg/m3.
  • After repeated skin application of less than 300 (mg/kg of body weight) per week.
  • After oral dosages of less than 50 mg/kg of body weight per day.

Reproductive Toxins - include substances that can affect reproductive capabilities such as mutagens, which cause chromosome damage, and teratogens, which cause harm to the fetus, and reproductive hazards, which may affect female or male reproductive health.

Highly Toxic Chemicals - a substance (poison) that falls within any of the following categories:

  1. Median lethal dose (LD50) administered orally is <50 mg.
  2. LD50 administered by continuous contact is <200 mg.
  3. Median lethal concentration administered by inhalation is <200 ppm
  4. Any chemical whose properties are unknown.


  1. As a minimum, follow precautions section 10.2 of this guide.
  2. Determine whether additional precautions are needed for PHS materials.
  3. Amend or add procedures as needed.
  4. Post the area for use. Inform lab occupants of designated area with Lab Posting Signs. Consider factors such as potency, concentration, quantity, physical properties and conditions surrounding the use of the substances. Specifically consider if additional precautions are needed for: Areas to be designated for use and posted, e.g., fume hood, glove box, or entire room. Containment devices (e.g., fume hood or glove box). Procedures for decontamination and waste disposal. Additional training or personal protective equipment for material users.
  5. List designated areas where additional precautions are needed.
  • Chemical or Substance
  • Building/Room
  • Area Designated for Use


Antineoplastic Agents Lab Safety