SOP - Spill Response

*A copy of this SOP is also located in each Spill Response Kit (located in teaching labs and most research areas).

Standard Operating Procedure

Department of Chemistry




Response to chemical spills occur at several levels. At the first level a laboratory worker cleans up the spill. Other spills are reported and then managed by spill response teams. Refer to the SDS to determine whether the spill should be immediately reported or safely cleaned up by laboratory personnel.

All spills of more than one liter (Solvents, Acids, Bases) must be reported to EOHS at 3700 or the Chemistry Department- X 3663. Outside normal working hours call Campus Police 3527

In addition to spills greater than one liter the following spills must also be REPORTED regardless of the quantity:

  • Any spill which occurs in a research lab.
  • All mercury spills.
  • Any incident involving radioactive material –Do not attempt to clean up any radioactive material -Report Immediately
  • All personal contamination
  • All leaking containers
  • All uncontrolled compressed/cryogenic gas releases.

For the purpose of this SOP the spill response procedure to follow is for any quantity less than one liter which has been determined to be non-reportable.

Designated Area:

Spills may occur in any laboratory where hazardous materials are in use.

Personal Protection:

The minimum amount of personal protective equipment:

  • Goggles
  • Lab coat with sleeves rolled down
  • Nitrile or neoprene gloves


Do not perform this task unless you are faculty, the lab instructor or researcher.


Clean up materials

The actual materials to be used will depend upon the main hazard posed by the spilled material.

Supplies include:

  • Goggles
  • Nitrile Gloves
  • Absorbent pads/sheets
  • Solvent absorbent
  • Acid neutralizer
  • Caustic neutralizer
  • Heavy duty plastic trash bags
  • Chemical waste labels
  • Dust pan & brush
  • Laboratory tongs
  • Plastic container with lid



A bottle, for example, which was knocked over, will still have some chemical in it. The responder should carefully upright the container, place it on an absorbent pad in a safe location and replace the lid.


Any spread of spilled chemical must be controlled. This is done by placing absorbent pads around and on the spill. Many laboratory spills involve broken glass. The spill responder must be careful to avoid getting cut.

  • Acid, Caustic or non-flammable - These are most easily absorbed with the absorbent pads. Place used pads in a trash bag. Frequently, spills will spread into drawers and behind or under equipment. The responder must be careful to locate all contaminated areas.
  • Flammable liquids - flammable liquids should be absorbed using the solvent absorbent powder. Use the dust brush to mix the adsorbent with the liquid. Use the dust pan and brush to collect all residue. Remove broken glass using tongs and carefully place in the plastic container.


  • Acids spills – pour acid neutralizer on all surfaces affected by the spill. NOTE: Only use amount necessary to neutralize residue. Clean up the neutralizer and apply fresh neutralizer.
  • Caustic spills – pour caustic neutralizer on all surfaces affected by the spill. NOTE: Only use amount necessary to neutralize residue. Clean up the neutralizer and apply fresh neutralizer.

Remove neutralizer residue - Residue from the neutralization can be easily removed with water. Moisten a pad with water and carefully wipe all contaminated surfaces. Repeat this process until all traces of the neutralizer are removed. If, after the clean up is completed, the affected area is sticky, use soapy water to remove any remaining neutralizer.


Carefully check the entire affected area for spill residue, hidden contamination or unsafe conditions.


Put all spill residue in a plastic bag. Place the lid on the plastic container and place it in the bag. Seal the bag and place a completed Chemical Waste Form on the outside of the bag. Call Chemical Management Center at Ext. 3703 or 1327 for transport.


Supplies are available upon request at the CMC.

Accident Procedure:

Read SDS of the substance involved before attempting to clean up the spill.

Accident: Skin contact: Flush with water for 15 minutes.

Eye contact: Immediately flush eyes with water for 15 minutes.

  • Emergency numbers – POLICE (911), EOHS (x3700)
  • Chemical Management Center (x3703) or the Chemistry Dept. WBSH 5053 (x3663) for further assistance.

Hazards involved in procedure:

The primary consideration for laboratory personnel when a chemical is spilled is safety. If the spill could potentially harm someone, report the spill immediately. Do not attempt to clean up the spill.

Special Handling Requirements:

Use normal care in handling.

Approval Required:

This task is to be done or supervised by a faculty member, the laboratory instructor or researcher.