Working in the Lab

Before beginning laboratory research, all personnel must do the following:

  • Read the DMSE Chemical Hygiene Plan.
  • Update the Training Needs Assessment through the MIT Learning Center.
  • Receive chemical safety training either online or through classroom training. Use the MIT Learning Center to access web training or to sign up for classroom training.  The minimum courses to complete include:
    • General Chemical Hygiene 
    • Managing Hazardous Waste 
    • Complete Laboratory Specific Chemical Hygiene Training. This is generally provided the EHS Representative for the lab space where work will be conducted.
  • ​Other training may be required based on the Training Needs Assessment.
  • Submit the Clearance Form to Mary Lindstrom, the EHS Coordinator for DMSE, in 56-651 (marylindstrom@mit.edu). Both the worker and the PI or EHS rep must sign a the form stipulating that specific lab training has been provided and agreed to, and that the worker has read the DMSE Chemical Hygiene and Safety Manual. This must be done before bench work can begin.

Safe Lab Practices

All personnel under the DMSE Chemical Hygiene Plan must practice safe laboratory practices as described below. Failure to comply to these regulations may lead to dismissal.

  • No food or drink, or evidence of food or drink, in laboratory spaced.
  • Work only with materials when you know their flammability, reactivity, toxicity, safe handling, disposal, and emergency procedures.
  • You must have a copy of an approved Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) prior to use of particularly hazardous substances. 
  • Laboratory coats and gloves must be worn when handling hazardous chemicals, BL2 or higher biological materials, and open sources of radiation..
  • Always remove gloves (even if you think they are clean!) before touching computer keyboards, computer mice, door handles and telephones. If it is necessary to keep a glove on to transport a hazardous material in the hallway, remove a glove from one hand in order to open doors or use a clean paper towel.
  • All procedures involving volatile materials or aerosols of a toxic or flammable nature must be performed in an exhausting hood.
  • To minimize the risk of eye injury, it is recommended that eye protection be worn on a regular basis. Certified safety glasses with side shields or goggles are absolutely required in the following situations:
    • When handling corrosive, particularly hazardous, or radioactive substances that could cause eye injury;
    • When performing chemical operations that could explode or implode;
    • When in a room where there is a reasonable danger of eye injury from flying particles/objects. 
  • Hazardous materials in breakable containers must be contained within a shatter-proof secondary container during transportation (e.g., when carrying ethanol down a hallway).
  • All hazardous waste containers require a red tag and all contents must be written out in English (no chemical abbreviations; red tags are available from the EHS Office). Waste containers must be stored in satellite accumulation areas. There can be no more than one container with the same type of waste in one satellite accumulation area. Lids to hazardous waste containers must always be kept closed, unless in use.
  • Perform a safety check after each experiment. Make sure gas, water, flames, vacuum, and hot plates are turned off. Decontaminate your work area after using biohazards.
  • Wash hands before leaving the laboratory.
  • Exits and passageways must be kept clear at all times. Know the locations of fire extinguishers, emergency wash facilities, fire alarm pull stations, telephones and emergency exits.

Safety Data Sheets

A Safety Data Sheets (SDS) must be easily accessible for all lab chemicals. Guidance on finding current SDSs is available at the EHS website.


Carcinogen Information

Agencies that List "Known" and "Likely" Carcinogens:
-  National Toxicology Program Carcinogen Report
-  International Agency for Research and Cancer 

The Materials Project, an open database of properties allowing researchers to explore and select the right materials for their needs, is the brainchild of Professor Gerd Ceder.