Each laboratory must have appropriate equipment and materials and develop procedures for dealing with spills. Spill procedure charts are available from EHS and should be displayed in a prominent position in the laboratory and also included with the spill kit. Each laboratory should have a spill kit which is clearly labeled; it is recommended that a sign be posted indicating where the kit is located (such as with an arrow) if the kit is placed up on a shelf or under a cabinet for example. A basic spill kit could include the following, depending on the materials/chemicals used in the laboratory:
- Protective clothing, e.g., heavy-duty rubber gloves, goggles;
- Scoops and/or autoclavable dustpan;
- Forceps for picking up broken glass;
- Sponges and paper towels;
- Concentrated disinfectant (chlorine bleach or Wescodyne);
- Soda ash (sodium carbonate, Na2CO3) or sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3) to neutralize acids;
- Sand to cover an alkali spill;
- Neutralizers for formaldehyde and/or solvents;
- Nonflammable detergent; and a
- Biohazard bag.
The potential health risk of the spilled agent must be considered. For example, with Mycobacterium tuberculosis the risk of exposure from the spill of a small quantity might be many times that of a much larger spill of E. coli. A minimally biohazardous material (BSL1 or RG1 agent) spilled without generating significant aerosols may be cleaned up with a paper towel soaked in an effective decontaminating agent. A spill of a large volume with generation of aerosols will require personnel to wear protective clothing and possibly respiratory protection, depending on the biological agents involved.