The University of Iowa

SAFETYmatters - Checking in on Chemical Storage

Article published 11/01/18 


Laboratory chemicals, unlike fine wines and cheeses, do NOT age well. Not only do many chemicals deteriorate with age, rendering some useless for research purposes and others unstable or dangerous, but the very chemical containers themselves begin to deteriorate. All of this can significantly drive up the costs for disposal.


During the 2019 annual EHS lab review, safety team advisors will be looking more closely at chemical storage and container viability.  Specifically, advisors will be looking for stored chemicals that are not aging well, including bottles that are cracked or covered in residue, caps that are degrading or are no longer able to provide a tight seal, and incompatible storage of chemicals.


Advisors will also be looking at storage units, such as cabinets, freezers, and refrigerators, for evidence of contamination or corrosion due to chemical leakage or off gassing. EHS hopes to achieve three main goals by proactively working with the labs to identify any aged or leaking chemicals:


  1. By identifying these chemicals we can either;
    • Dispose of the chemicals if they are not needed or unusable in order to save on disposal costs and reduce risks of spills or unwanted reactions.
    • Transfer the chemicals that are being kept into an overpack container or transfer the contents from the old container into a new one.
  2. Prevent damage to storage units; i.e. refrigerators, freezers, flammable cabinets.
  3. Ensure proper/compatible storage of chemicals. For storage information, refer to Section 11: Storage Procedures in the EHS Chemical Hygiene Plan found here EHS CHP