Hazardous Materials

Hazardous Materials Management (HMM) is responsible for the collection and proper disposal of chemical, radioactive, and biological waste generated throughout the facilities during teaching, research, and clinical operations at the Ann Arbor campus. The HMM Program supports the University community by providing professional services and oversight.

Examples include:

  • Chemical
  • Radioactive
  • Medical
  • Packaging waste


  • HazMat, 763-4568 for proper disposal


  • Use and store all flammable and combustible liquids and all toxic materials appropriately, in accordance with your Department's Chemical Hygiene Plan
  • Make sure all storage and disposal containers are properly labeled. Contact HazMat, 763-4568 for proper disposal
  • Ignition sources. "No open flames" signs should be adhered to. Be sure that all electrical devices are grounded and in good condition
  • If there is a problem with fire alarms, fire extinguishers, or other built-in fire protection, contact the CoE Facilities Management Office, 647-7070

HazMat website: http://www.oseh.umich.edu/

WHAT TO DO for a Radioactive Spill:

  • Attend to injuries or emergencies first.
  • Warn others and request radiological assistance from others.
  • Direct potentially contaminated personnel to stay in a controlled area of the laboratory until they have been monitored and shown to be free of contamination.
  • Isolate and contain the spill to a localized area of the laboratory. Post or tape off the affected area and establish an entry “control point” into the area.
  • Call OSEH Radiation Safety at (734)764-6200 or DPS at 911 immediately.
    • Provide the building name, room number, radionuclide involved, brief description of radiological incident, contact person’s name and phone number at spill site.
  • Monitor yourself and the affected area to identify the extent of the contamination. Use smears/swipes or an appropriate radiation survey meter. [REMEMBER: Radiation survey meters cannot detect tritium (H-3)!]
  • Initiate decontamination of any contaminated skin (soap & warm water).
  • Wear appropriate protective clothing: long-sleeve lab coat, disposable gloves, shoe covers or booties, and safety goggles.
  • Cover WET SPILLS with paper towels or absorbent pads. Discard contaminated absorbent materials into a solid radioactive waste drum or plastic bag.
  • Cover DRY SPILLS with slightly dampened paper towels or absorbent pads.
  • Assist Radiation Safety Service personnel with decontamination or smear/swipe counting.

WHAT TO DO for a Chemical Spill:


  • Alert people in immediate area of spill.
  • Open outside windows, if possible.
  • Wear protective equipment, including safety goggles, gloves and long-sleeve lab coat.
  • Avoid breathing vapors from spill.
  • Confine spill to as small an area as possible.
  • Do not wash spill down the drain.
  • Use appropriate kit to neutralize and absorb inorganic acids and bases. Collect residue, place in container, and dispose as chemical waste.
  • For other chemicals, use appropriate kit or absorb spill with vermiculite, dry sand or diatomaceous earth. Collect residue, place in container and dispose as chemical waste.
  • Clean spill area with water.


  • Attend to injured or contaminated persons and remove them from exposure.
  • Alert people in the laboratory to evacuate.
  • If spilled material is flammable, turn off ignition and heat sources. Don’t light Bunsen burners or turn on other switches.
  • Call DPS at 911 immediately for assistance.
  • Close doors to affected area.
  • Post warnings to keep people from entering the area.
  • Have person available that has knowledge of incident and laboratory to assist emergency personnel.

Notes and Precautions: The range and quantity of hazardous substances used in laboratories require pre-planning to respond safely to chemical spills. The cleanup of a chemical spill only should be done by knowledgeable and experienced personnel who have received appropriate training. Spill kits with instructions, absorbents, reactants and protective equipment should be available to clean up minor spills. A minor chemical spill is one that the laboratory staff is capable of handling safely without the assistance of safety and emergency personnel. A major chemical spill requires active assistance from emergency personnel.

What to do for a Biological Spill:


  • Wear disposable gloves.
  • Soak paper towels in disinfectant and place over spill area.
  • Place towels in plastic bag for disposal.
  • Clean spill area with fresh towels soaked in disinfectant.


  • Alert people in immediate area of spill.
  • Put on protective equipment.
  • Cover spill with paper towels or other absorbent materials.
  • Carefully pour a freshly prepared 1 in 10 dilution of household bleach around the edges of the spill and then into the spill. Avoid splashing.
  • Allow a 20-minute contact period.
  • Use paper towels to wipe up the spill, working from the edges to the center.
  • Clean spill area with fresh towels soaked in disinfectant.
  • Place towels in a plastic bag and decontaminate in an autoclave.


  • Attend to injured or contaminated persons and remove them from exposure.
  • Alert people in the laboratory to evacuate.
  • Close doors to affected area.
  • Call DPS immediately at 911.
  • Have person available that has knowledge of the incident and laboratory to assist emergency personnel.

Call OSEH Hazardous Materials at (734)763-4568 or OSEH Biosafety at (734)763-6973 for consultation on spill response.
Notes and Precautions: Biological spills outside biological safety cabinets could generate aerosols that can be dispersed in the air throughout the laboratory. These spills are to be taken seriously if they involve microorganisms that spread naturally via aerosol route and require Biosafety Level (BL) 2 or higher containment. These agents have the potential for producing exposure and infection by infectious aerosols. To reduce the risk of inhalation exposure in such an incident, occupants should leave the laboratory immediately. The laboratory should not be re-entered to decontaminate and clean up the spill for at least 30 minutes. During this time, the aerosol will be removed from the laboratory by the exhaust air ventilation system. Appropriate protective equipment is particularly important in cleaning up large spills involving microorganisms that require either BL2 or higher containment. This equipment includes a lab coat, back-fastening gown or jumpsuit, disposable gloves, disposable shoe covers, safety goggles and mask or face shield. Use of this equipment will prevent contact with contaminated surfaces, and protect eyes and mucous membranes from exposure to splattered materials.

What to do about spills to the environment:
Promptly report any suspected spills or illicit discharges to DPS at (734)763-1131.
If cleanup assistance is required, contact OSEH at (734)763-4568 or DPS at 911.

  • Secure the area with tape, rope or warning signs.
  • Inform your supervisor as well as others of the spill.
  • Block any drains that could be impacted by the spill with a spill mat, drain plug, berm or any material on hand.


  • Be sure to protect yourself with necessary personal protective equipment.
  • Familiarize yourself with the material safety data sheet for the spilled material.
  • Be aware of any potential hazards associated with the cleanup.
  • Place any contaminated materials in a sealed container and contact OSEH at (734)763-4568. DO NOT dispose spill debris or contaminated protective equipment into the general trash, down a drain, or into the ground.
  • Never wash spilled materials down a storm drain or sanitary sewer, or allow them to evaporate. If any spilled material enters a storm drain or sanitary sewer, contact OSEH at (734)763-4568.

Be Prepared

  • Keep updated emergency response procedures for your area.
  • Post a list of contacts in case of a spill.
  • Post an evacuation route.
  • List the location of spill response materials.
  • Train employees in advance on when and how to properly use spill response materials.
  • Assign a person to periodically test cleanup equipment and maintain its inventory.

Note: Rubber mats, temporary drain plugs, or berms should be kept in the area so drains can be blocked immediately. For small spills, use chemical spill pillows or adsorbent materials. Other adsorbents that can be utilized to clean up a chemical spill are sawdust, vermiculite, oil-dry, or activated charcoal. Avoid the use of cat litter -- it is relatively non-absorbent and increases waste volume.