Hazardous Materials

In addition to use in student laboratories, Yeshiva University uses chemical and chemical products throughout the campuses for maintenance, housekeeping, and reprographic and other purposes.

A hazardous material has the ability to cause death or harm to human health, animals, or the environment, either by itself or through interaction with other factors and includes the following: infectious substances, corrosives, flammable liquids, compressed gases, explosives, radioactive materials, poisons.  

Chemical Spill

In the event of a chemical spill, the following response procedures shall be observed:

  • Alert personnel in the surrounding area, no matter how small or insignificant it appears.
  • Determine if the spill is major or minor. Prior to working with a chemical, become familiar with its hazards by referring to its Safety Data Sheet (SDS).

A major spill is an event that requires assistance from the Safety Department or cannot be handled with existing University resources. It also includes events where personal injury or contamination is involved.

A minor spill can safely be handled by laboratory personnel without outside assistance.

Major Spill Response Actions

  • Immediately, notify personnel in the immediate area to evacuate.
  • If possible, without risking personal exposure, close all doors to the location.
  • Contact the Security Department and the Safety Department, and be prepared to provide the following information:         
    • Your name
    • Your contact number
    • Location of Spill
    • Name of material spilled (spell the chemical name; some chemicals sound alike)
    • Physical state of the material
    • Amount spilled
    • If injuries have occurred
    • Time of incident/Time observed
    • Other pertinent information
    •   Stay on the phone for further instructions – DO NOT HANG UP.   

Laboratory personnel should cautiously proceed with spill clean-up, if the following conditions are met: 

  • The identity of the substance is known.
  • The hazards do not pose a significant threat to health and safety. Refer to the applicable Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for this information.
  • Clean-up equipment is available and accessible.
  • Personnel handling the clean-up have received safety training and are confident that exposure to oneself and others will not occur. 
  • If at any point an outside assistance is needed, the Security Department and the Safety Department should immediately be contacted. 


In the event of a biological material spill, alert personnel in the immediate area and follow the response procedures below:

For spills outside a biosafety cabinet and with potential for aerosolization:
  • Evacuate the area and post warning signs (“Biohazard Spill – Do Not Enter”) on all entrances to the spill location.
  • Allow aerosols to settle for 30 minutes before clean-up.
  • Wear appropriate personal protective equipment (gloves, lab coat, face protection, etc.) 
  • Cover the spilled material with a 10% bleach solution or other approved disinfectant .Avoid splashing. 
  • Allow 20 to 30 minutes for the disinfectant to inactivate the biohazard. Always follow manufacturer’s directions.
  • Use forceps, tongs or a broom and dustpan to pick-up any broken glass or sharps. Debris should be deposited in a biohazard sharps container. 
  • Use paper towels or absorbent pads to wipe up spilled material, then dispose of in a biohazard container. 
  • Wipe down all surfaces or items in contact with the material once more with absorbent material and disinfectant.
  • Sterilize all re-usable items by autoclaving.
  • Remove gloves; wash hands with soap and water after clean-up. 
  • Inform personnel upon completion.
For spills inside a biosafety cabinet:
  • Keep the biosafety cabinet blower on.
  • While wearing PPE, wipe cabinet walls and work surfaces with disinfectant and avoid placing head in the cabinet.
  • If necessary, flush the work surface as well as the drain pans and catch basins below the work surface with disinfectant and ensure the drain valve is closed.
  • The drain pan should be emptied into a collection vessel containing disinfectant. 
  • After clean-up, allow the cabinet to run for ten minutes before resuming work.
For spills outside the laboratory, personnel must contact the Security Department and the Safety Department for assistance.
  • For personal contamination:
  • Remove contaminated clothing and other protective equipment and place in a biohazard bag.
  • Wash affected body parts thoroughly with soap and water. 
  • Seek immediate medical attention.
  • Report the incident to the Safety Department, the Security Department and the Principal Investigator responsible for the laboratory.

Odor Complaint

In the event of an abnormal, obvious condition where several people in an area experience feeling of discomfort or illness, contact the Safety Department and the Security Department immediately.

“Feelings of discomfort or illness” include sudden headache; irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat; dizziness; fatigue and nausea etc. These symptoms may not appear suddenly; they may occur gradually over hours or days or weeks.

An “abnormal obvious condition” is generally noticed by some or all occupants in an area, rather than sensitivity by one person to a specific thing. It could be any of the following:

  • Odor of gas, chemical, electrical, or other.
  • Haze in the air.
  • Visible dust clouds or fumes.
  • Vibration.