9.0 Spill/Leak Response

Emergency response procedures are part of the university chemical safety program. The chemical hygiene plan (CHP) and emergency response procedures address the response actions to fires, explosions, spills, personal injury, and the development of signs and symptoms of overexposure.

If your skin or clothing becomes contaminated with gaseous or chemical vapors, check the SDS for appropriate decontamination procedures which generally include removal of contaminated clothing, use of emergency eyewash stations and body showers, and obtaining first aid or medical attention as appropriate.

Simple Gas or Vapor Leak

A “simple” compressed gas leak is one that involves minimal personal risk, such as a minimal inhalation hazard.

If the leak is at the junction of the cylinder valve and cylinder – do not try to repair it.  Instead, contact the supplier and ask for appropriate response instructions. A leaking cylinder, regulator, or any other attached equipment should be taken out of service until the repair is completed.

If the cylinder contains a flammable, inert, or oxidizing gas, move it to a well-ventilated area such as a functioning fume hood, walk-in hood, or a secure outdoor area, if possible, away from incompatible materials. Allow it to remain isolated until the gas has discharged, making certain that the area is secured and appropriate warning signs have been posted.

If the cylinder contains a corrosive gas, remove the cylinder to an isolated, well-ventilated area away from incompatibles. The stream of reactive toxic gases or corrosive gases from reaction vessels should be passed through an appropriate gas absorber, such as charcoal based adsorbers and neutralizing traps.

Spill response for a simple corrosive gas spill should be developed before it is ever needed. Researchers should select gas specific neutralizing traps or gas absorbers to prevent an adverse reaction.

Major Gas or Vapor Leak


Call 911. Then alert everyone in the area that a spill or release has occurred.


A “major” compressed gas leak is one that presents more than a minimal personal risk, and/or fire hazard, and/or is large and uncontrollable.

Do not attempt to handle a release of a toxic gas. Turn off ignition sources. Immediately vacate the area and ventilate the area only if it can be done safely. Remain on the scene at a safe distance to receive and direct emergency response personnel when they arrive.