The Department of Chemistry at Villanova University is committed to developing and providing a culture of safety for our students, faculty and staff.

It is the Department’s belief that safety is at the core of everything we do in the laboratory and our everyday lives. It is important to understand the many hazards we face and to follow the standard safety practices.

The Chemical Hygiene Plan (CHP) is an organization’s set of standard operating procedures for working safety in the laboratory. This document is where we codify the basic set of lab safety rules, along with our department specific policies and procedures when it comes to issues such as chemical spills, handling and collection of chemical waste, and SOPs for handling Particularly Hazardous Substances (Toxic reagents, etc.).

Chimera is the University’s chemical inventory and SDS database, accessible to faculty, staff and students only. Obtain a username and password, using your Villanova email. you must indicate all rooms you want access to Chemistry labs in Mendel: 302, 304, 305, 306, 307, 308, 309, 310, 311, 313B,314, 315, 316, 317, 319, 321, 293, 291, 287, 283, 210, 209, 208, 207, 206, 205, 204. DO NOT select Request Whole Building.  Contact Eydiejo Kurchan for more information or help accessing the database.

In the event of an illness or accident with injury, the laboratory instructor/TAs contact storeroom staff who will help assess the situation and call for assistance as outlined below.

  1. Storeroom Staff contact a Chemistry Department Safety Officer who will complete an incident report. If Storeroom staff are not present, use this flowchart to assist you in completing the Incident Response until a staff member arrives to assist you. Instructors/TAs should help provide necessary descriptions and accounts. The student(s) involved in the incident should not return to the laboratory until the Safety Officer or VEMS releases them.
    1. Safety Officers
      1. Eydiejo Kurchan: 610-519-7481
      2. Michelle Corso: 610-519-6348
      3. Justin Mitsch: 610-519-4877
  2. Assess if this is a Major or Minor incident, then take appropriate action:
    1. Minor Incidents are those injuries where the student can wait to be escorted to Health Services by a Public Safety Officer.
      1. If the student wishes to go to Health Services, the staff will call Public Safety, 610-519-6979, to request that a Public Safety Officer come and escort the student to the Health Services Building. Students cannot go to Health Services by themselves. Send Safety Data Sheets with student if necessary.
      2. Students can decline to seek medical attention for Minor Incidents.  If the student declines to go to Health Services, Public Safety does not need to be called.
      3. You may be asked to describe the circumstances of the incident. Some wording choices include fever, upset stomach, vomiting, headache, rash, small cuts, torn fingernail, jammed finger, burn, etc.
    2. Major Incidents are those injuries for which the student cannot wait to be escorted to Health Services. (potentially life threatening/person(s) requires immediate medical attention)
      1. Examples include Severe thermal/chemical burns, chemicals in eye(s), respiratory distress, dizziness, fainting, profuse bleeding from deep cuts, compound fractures, etc.
      2. In these cases, staff will call Public Safety, 610-519-4444, to request that VEMS respond. Example: “We need medical assistance from VEMS in Mendel Hall Room ________, a student (faculty/staff) has (a) _____________.”

The procedures for cleaning up a chemical spill depend on several factors relating to the identity of the chemical (its volatility, concentration, toxicity, the volume spilled and whether it is a solid or liquid) and the level of training you have received. Spills can be simple or complex. A simple spill does not spread rapidly or endanger people.

Chemical Spill Procedures

  1. Stop working and notify colleagues and the lab PI that a spill has occurred.
  2. Move away from the area while evaluating spill response.
  3. Be aware of the location of safety equipment such as fire extinguishers, eye wash, safety shower.
  4. Recognize Hazards: concentrated acids and bases; toxic (health hazard) chemicals; oxidizers; water/air reactive, etc.
  5. Identify Spill risks: volatile vapors, air or water reactive and oxidizers all have the potential to cause a fire or explosion; vapors may move into other rooms exposing others to their harmful effects.
  6. Evaluate the spill: is it simple or complex? (Examples below are not all inclusive)
    1. Aqueous solutions or benign solids (sodium chloride, sodium carbonate, etc.): simple
    2. Organic/metal solids with a lot of dust or fine particulates: complex (WARNING: STATIC CAN SET OFF DUST EXPLOSION)
    3. Organic/halogenated solvents; reactive or toxic chemicals: complex (The presence of flammable vapors requires that you TURN OFF ignition sources – NEVER UNPLUG anything)
    4. Location of spill: spills inside the fume hood (simple) have a lower risk of exposure than those outside the hood (complex)
    5. Volume of spill: threshold volume for requiring assistance depends on hazardous properties
  7. Complex spills involving reagents with hazardous properties require the assistance of the Safety Officer, Eydiejo Kurchan (x9-7481), 484-367-5884
  8. If you have been exposed (via inhalation, absorption, ingestion or injection) to chemical reagents during a spill, you will need to inform both your PI and the Safety Officer, so a Laboratory Incident Report can be completed.

Simple Spills

  1. If you feel comfortable, proceed to clean up a simple spill. You are always welcome to ask for assistance from the Safety Officer.
  2. Wear appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for cleanup including:
    1. Lab coat
    2. Chemical Goggles
    3. Gloves (doubled if necessary)
    4. Booties for over shoes (optional – located in spill kit)
  3. Close the lab door to prevent the spread of dust or particulates.
  4. Isolate a spilled liquid with a ring of absorbent materials to prevent spreading. Saturate the rest of the liquid with the spill control material. Use items from the spill kits in Mendel 208, 302 or 388 (kitty litter, vermiculite, diatomaceous earth, charcoal absorbents; large size protective gloves, booties; shovels and scoops; bags for solid waste disposal)
  5. Use a dustpan and brush, or other method, to scoop up the liquid-solid mixture and place into a suitable solid waste container, labeling the container with date and contents and contact Eydiejo Kurchan (x9-7481,) for waste pickup.
  6. Wipe the area down with soap and water using paper towels to finalize clean-up.

Remember the simple risk assessment: RAMP

  • Recognize Hazards: Look at the GHS labels on the bottle
  • Assess the Risks of Hazards: Read the Safety Data Sheet or Pub Chem summary of chemicals you are unfamiliar with.
  • Minimize the Risks of Hazards: Are you using the right PPE (gloves, eye protection, lab coat); Any other equipment needed? (blast shield, Class D fire extinguisher)
  • Prepare for Emergencies: Does the safety equipment work in your lab?(eye wash, safety shower, fire extinguisher); Where is the closest spill kit? (Hallway for small spills 207, 302, 312 and 388 for large spills

The first time you enter a lab find:

  • Safety shower
  • Emergency exits
  • Emergency eyewash
  • Fire extinguisher

Always wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) including:

  • Eye protection
  • Gloves
  • Long pants
  • Hair short or tied back
  • Clean lab coat
  • Closed toed shoes

When in the lab, remember:

  • Do Not Bring Food or Beverages into the lab.
  • Do not touch chemicals with your bare hands.
  • Wash promptly whenever a chemical has contacted the skin.
  • Change gloves often Dress appropriately for work in the laboratory.

Working alone in the lab in the presence of hazards (chemical, physical, biological, etc.) always increases the risks of these hazards. The Committee on Safety and Sustainability has put together this guideline for research advisors and students to use to assess the risks in their lab and determine the safest way to conduct research. It is highly discouraged for any student, faculty or staff to work truly alone at anytime.

Notify others. Let your PI, know when you will be working alone and what you will be doing. Perform a risk assessment of any activity you will be doing with your PI prior to working alone, as necessary.

Implement a buddy system. Check in with someone regularly while working alone in the lab, including at the start of your work session and when you leave.

  • In-person buddy: Higher-risk tasks, such as handling of cryogenic liquids (e.g., liquid nitrogen) should have another person within earshot, but >6 feet away.
  • Semi-in-person buddy: If there are other researchers in your building conducting critical tasks, you may coordinate to serve as one another’s buddy. Check in to one another’s lab room regularly (e.g., every 15-30 minutes) while staying >6 feet away.
  • Live remote buddy: By using video conferencing tools or a phone call, a researcher can have a buddy who is aware of their status live, but is not present in-person.
  • Asynchronous remote buddy: Lower risk tasks, such as splitting non-hazardous cells, are amenable. In this system, the researcher tells their buddy where they are working, when to expect the researcher to check in, and what to do if the researcher does not check in at the appointed time.

Be alert and aware of your surroundings. Wearing ear buds or headphones should be avoided as it reduces situational awareness.

Wear required PPE in the laboratory, even after hours. This includes long pants, enclosed shoes, lab coat, and safety glasses.

Download the NovaSafe app. Nova Safe is a free smartphone app designed to help the Villanova University Department of Public Safety respond to emergency situations quickly.

Limit activity with certain materials that may be more hazardous (cryogens, pyrophorics, highly reactive)

Be familiar with the chemistry – NO NEW EXPERIMENTS. The University Chemical Hygiene Plan states that no undergraduate student may work alone in the lab outside normal business hours (7:30 a.m. – 4 p.m., M-F). If students will be working alone please fill out the Undergraduate Working Alone Risk Assessment.

Sustainability initiatives in the Department of Chemistry include:

  • Reducing waste at the instructional level
    • Instructional laboratory courses are actively working to change existing synthesis to minimize hazardous chemicals, therefore reducing the amount of hazardous waste generated.
    • Innovative experiments explore creating reaction components from recycled materials (converting used Al cans to alum to be used in other experiments.)
    • Encouraging students to explore sustainable projects within a laboratory course (MSE Polymers)
  • Reuse and recycling of spent chemical containers
    • Whenever possible we reuse glass chemical containers as waste bottles.
    • Plastic recycling of spent chemical containers- plastic chemical containers of innocuous chemicals (NaCl, buffers, etc) are recycled whenever possible. This is in collaboration with Villanova’s Facilities department.
  • Chemical Inventory system to reduce excess chemical purchases
    • An up to date electronic chemical inventory database allows us to reduce waste by using what is on hand before purchasing new
  • Recycle pipet tips with manufacturer
    • Pipet tip boxes are a staple in many labs, by working with a manufacturer we reduce waste by recycling the used boxes with the manufacturer.


Remember these tips when disposing of items.

  • Recyclables should be clean and dry – be careful not to put clam shells or any small pieces of plastic or plastic bags in!
  • Garbage belongs in the trash – don’t contaminate the recycling stream.
  • Batteries do not go in the trash – contact your department or email
  • Hazardous waste/cleaners/oils do not go in the trash – contact your department or
  • Styrofoam packaging can, in some cases, be sent back to the manufacturer/distributor for reuse – contact them to look into styrofoam reuse programs.
  • Bundle multiple purchases into one mailing to minimize shipments – you can find and deposit used boxes by many of the mail rooms.
  • Dried up markers do not go in the trash.
  • Most of all, minimize your waste by reusing and repurposing as much as possible. Learn more about the sustainability at the University.

Spring 2023 the Committee on Safety and Sustainability will be launching a 2-part initiative to capture lessons learned and record department sustainability practices in an effort to share information for use in lectures, laboratory instruction and/or research. Our program will mimic a near miss reporting system used by Yale University Chemistry Department’s Joint Safety Team, the first phase is gathering information. Please complete this form to contribute.

In the Spring we will be introducing QR codes around the department for ease of reporting. Once reported the incidents are filtered for content and added to a spreadsheet which will be shared on the department’s SharePoint site. Please note, the form asks for a name, this is strictly for follow up purposes and names will not be added to the spreadsheet shared with the Department. Also, this does not replace the need to report injuries or incidents in the lab just a place to gather information. When in doubt ask Eydiejo. In addition to near miss accounts we have added a section for sustainability initiatives as a way to share things you may be doing in lab to support the 12 principles of Green Chemistry. Members of our committee have already added content so visit the department sharepoint site and check it out. Feedback is appreciated and should be directed to Eydiejo.