Personal Protective Equipment

The DMSE Chemical Hygiene Plan requires appropriate clothing and personal protective equipment (PPE) for anyone that enters laboratory spaces. Detailed information on selecting and using appropriate PPE is available on the MIT EHS website. Basic guidance on appropriate PPE in DMSE is below.

PPE Limitations

PPE should not be used as a substitute for engineering controls such as fume hoods, glove boxes, biosafety cabinets, process enclosures, etc., or as a substitute for good work practices and personal hygiene. Conversely, use of engineering controls such as fume hoods does not preclude the need for wearing the proper PPE.


As stated in the CHP, everyone must wear appropriate clothing in the laboratory. Wear a combination of clothing and shoes that fully cover the legs and feet when working in laboratory spaces. 

Lab Coats

At a minimum, a laboratory coat or equivalent protective clothing is required when working with or nearby to hazardous chemicals, unsealed radioactive materials, and biological agents at BL2 or greater. A flame resistant lab coat is required when handling pyrophoric substances outside of a glove box.  It is recommended that a flame resistant lab coat be worn when working with all flammable chemicals. 

Laboratory supervisors are required to carry out a hazard assessment to identify situations (a
task, experiment, or area) where alternative or more protective apparel must be worn.

More information on lab coat use and care at MIT can be found at


Appropriate eyewear for individual labs, work spaces, and procedures are determined through a hazard assessment. Contact the lab's EHS representative for lab-specific eyewear rules.

In general, use safety glasses with side shields as basic eye protection for handling chemicals where there is a low risk of splash or splatter. When pouring large amounts of chemicals, observing processes that are under heat or pressure, making adjustments to chemical containing apparatus, or performing other operations or tasks with a moderate for high potential splash risk or severe consequences in the event of a splash, chemical goggles should be used. A face shield can be used with goggles to protect the face under these circumstances. Labs may enact stricter eye protection requirements based on a hazard assessment.

Additional information on selection and use of appropriate eyewear is available on the EHS website


Select and wear appropriate hand protection, generally gloves, to prevent injury to hands or exposure by absorption of chemicals through the skin of the hands. Detailed guidance for selecting appropriate hand protection is available on the EHS website.

Gloves for work with chemicals must be selected based on the potential contact hazard, and the permeability of the glove material.

  • For incidental skin contact with small amounts of chemicals on a surface, or work with most powders, disposable nitrile gloves are usually adequate.
  • For work involving materials that are readily absorbed through the skin, the glove must be carefully selected using glove impermeability charts. See the EHS website for more information.
  • Silver Shield brand gloves work well for many common laboratory chemicals that can be absorbed through the skin, but you should verify their effectiveness for your application.
  • You should also evaluate need for hand protection from physical hazards such as extreme heat or cold, and make sure you use appropriate gloves.

Respiratory Protection

Respiratory protection may be needed for chemical handling when there are not sufficient engineering controls in place. If you believe respiratory protection is warranted you must follow the process outlined on on the EHS Website