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Ask a biosafety officer

What would you consider an appropriate chemical spill kit for a DIYbio lab?


What would you consider an appropriate chemical spill kit for a DIYbio lab. Since we do not have an Environmental Health Services Department (like a university would), do we just call a commercial service to take away a spill?

Answer from a Biosafety Officer:

March 5, 2013

A generic chemical spill kit should include the following:

  • Safety goggles
  • Gloves (nitrile, neoprene, butyl rubber).  No material is resistent to all chemicals. Latex gloves should not be used as they are not resistant to most typical laboratory chemicals
  • Lab coat or tyvek suit
  • Absorbent materials (kitty litter, sand, vermiculite)
  • Neutralizing materials (for acid spills - Sodium bicarbonate; for base spills - citric acid)

Procedures for managing a spill:

For small spills - for example, less than 1 gallon - notify other occupants of spill, isolate area (close doors), unplug electrical equipment and other ignition sources, turn on exhaust ventilation (if available), put on personal protective equipment, contain spill with absorbent materials, follow local regulations for disposal of contaminated materials.


For bigger spills or spills you don't believe you can handle, call in the experts.  In an academic lab setting, a large spill would typically be managed by the Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) group.  Without that option, if there is a spill that is larger than you can handle or if there were any injuries, you could call the fire department.  By purchasing small volumes of chemicals, risk of large scale spills is minimized.