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Environmental Health and Safety

Laboratory safety

Safety with chemical carcinogens in research and teaching

Every precaution should be taken to prevent inadvertent exposure of personnel and the environment to carcinogens. These rules have been prepared to protect laboratory workers and their experiments from inadvertent exposure to chemical carcinogens, as well as to minimize the hazard to the community. These rules set forth general safety principles that are to be followed in the handling, storage, and disposal of chemical carcinogens. These rules outline a safety and health plan for the handling of carcinogens or potential carcinogens. Facilities should be available for safe research with chemical carcinogens.

There are situations where the risk from chemical carcinogens is greater or less depending on the quantity, the chemical properties, or the intended operations. High risk situations are those that involve the use of a known highly potent chemical carcinogen, large quantities of chemical carcinogens, use of compounds with high vapor pressure, or complex procedures that have a high potential for aerosol production or contamination. Operations such as blending, preparation of dry feed mixtures, or manipulation of powders are high risk situations. In low risk situations, the minimum safeguards are strict adherence to good laboratory practices. Personnel whose medical condition, such as depressed immune response, or steroid/cytotoxic drug treatment, may make them unusually susceptible to the possible harmful effects of a carcinogen must be excluded from any area where accidental exposure might occur. Fertile men or women, or pregnant women may be at greater risk than others since many carcinogens are also mutagens or teratogens.

The guidelines for worker protection are published by Environmental Health and Safety is available in hard copy from the Division. The guidelines include the requirements for personnel, routine and specific work practices, ventilation and facilities. The published guidelines include a bibliography of carcinogen standards and a list of chemicals that are considered carcinogens, potential carcinogens and tumor promoters.