Hazardous Materials: Spills, Gas Leaks, and Odors


Exit the area — Immediately after a hazardous chemical is spilled you must exit the area. If the spill occurred in a laboratory and access to the fume hood is not blocked by the spill and/or hazardous vapors are not present in the area then raise the sash on the fume hood and increase the airflow.

Shut the doors and secure the area — Shut the doors to the area where the spill is located and secure the area if possible. Most laboratories are under negative pressure which will pull air from the hallway into the lab, keeping potentially hazardous vapors from spreading into other areas.

Call 911 (or 9-911 from an on-campus phone) from a safe location and give the following information:

  • Building name
  • Room number or location
  • Type of incident
  • Name of chemical spilled or description of odor if unsure of the chemical
  • Estimate of the volume of chemical spilled

Assess the situation — Determine if the spill is Immediately Dangerous to Life or Health (IDLH). IDLH incidents are those that pose a significant and immediate threat to building occupants due to extreme toxicity, imminent explosion, or other life threatening scenario. These types of incidents are rare. If the spill does not pose a threat to the building occupants then remain outside the entrance to the laboratory until the spill response team arrives. If you determine that the situation is Immediately Dangerous to Life or Health, then proceed to the next step.

Pull the fire alarm — After determining that the spill poses an immediate danger to the building occupants pull the fire alarm. Activating the fire alarm will evacuate the building occupants and will also notify the Indianapolis Fire Department.

Exit the building — Once the fire alarm has been activated exit the building. Remain at a safe distance from the main entrance of the building. Give your information to the emergency response teams that will be arriving.

Chemical Contamination

Remove any contaminated clothing immediately and flush all areas of bodily contact with copious amounts of water. This should take place while someone else makes the appropriate phone calls and in a safe location.

Ensure that medical assistance is obtained for those injured or exposed (safety shower, medical attention, etc.). Continue to rinse body contact areas with copious amounts of water for at least 15 minutes unless directed otherwise by appropriate emergency medical personnel (Physician, Nurse, Paramedic or Emergency Medical Technician).

Visit your campus Health Services or a local hospital for medical care and evaluation. If possible, take applicable Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) with you.

Radiation Release

The Radiation Safety Procedures Manual gives detailed instructions on what to do in the event of a release involving radioactive material. Basic instructions include the following:

  • At IUPUI, contact the Radiation Safety Office at 317-274-4797. Other campuses may contact the Office of Environmental Health and Safety Management.
  • Notify everyone in the area of the release and limit access.
  • Prevent the spread of contamination (e.g. cover with absorbent paper/chucks).
  • All individuals involved should remain in the area until monitored for contamination

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