A chemical emergency is defined as a situation in which a chemical(s) and/or chemical reaction(s) is not properly contained and poses an immediate threat to the health and safety of persons in proximity to the chemical(s). This information provides you with the first basic steps to be followed in the event of a chemical release.
Students are not permitted to bring caustic, flammable or otherwise hazardous chemicals onto campus or store them in their rooms. This does not apply to common household chemicals that must still be stored and used safely.
Chemical spills should only be cleaned up by knowledgeable and experienced personnel. A chemical emergency that causes any exposure and/or harm to a person or persons is considered an accident. As such, an accident report form must be completed and submitted. In the event of a chemical release into the environment, the Chemical Hygiene and Biological Safety Officer (CHBO) must be notified immediately in writing through conventional or electronic mail.
Major Chemical Spill Immediate Emergency Procedures
For chemical handling and hazardous waste policies and procedures, safety data sheets (SDS) for chemicals at UT, standard operating procedures (aka SOPs) for labs, studios and workshops and other helpful resources, visit UT Environmental Health and Safety.
- If someone is injured, call 911.
- Evacuate the area and from a safe location call:
- Campus Safety at x7777 or (813) 257-7777 from off-campus phone or cell phone.
- If you can do so quickly and safely, alert others of the threat and evacuate, especially if fumes are involved. If necessary, so that you can exit quickly and alert others to evacuate, pull the fire alarm.
- Provide the Campus Safety officer or the director of facilities with the following information:
- State precisely the nature of the emergency.
- Indicate what chemical is involved and the estimated quantity.
- Give an exact location of the incident by campus building, floor, wing, etc.
- Describe any known injuries to personnel.
- Secure the area by alerting other employees to clear the area.
- Possible questions about the spill:
- Is spilled material flammable and are there ignition or heat sources nearby?
- Are there doors that can be closed to affected area?
- Are there fumes, flames or irritating odors that have been created by the emergency?
Cleaning Up Small Chemical Spills
If you are cleaning up a small spill yourself, make sure that you are aware of the hazards associated with the spilled materials, have adequate ventilation and proper personal protective equipment (at minimum, gloves and safety glasses). Consider all residual chemical and cleanup materials (adsorbent, gloves, etc.) as hazardous waste. Place these materials in a sealed container and store in the chemical storage shed hood. Contact the CHBO for disposal instructions.
Minor Chemical Spill
- Alert people in the immediate area of the spill to maintain safe distance.
- Increase ventilation in the area of a spill (open windows).
- Wear protective equipment, including safety goggles, gloves and body protection.
- Avoid breathing vapors from the spill.
- Use appropriate spill neutralizer or clean up kit (vermiculite, dry sand, diatomaceous earth or paper towels).
- Collect residue, place in container and dispose of as hazardous chemical waste.
- Clean spill area with water.