University of Vermont

Department of Risk Management & Safety

Chemical Spills or Emissions

Chemical Spills

The ESF must be notified of any spill that is larger than two (2) gallons released to the environment, or that involves a high-hazard material.

Spills of chemicals or radioactive materials must be cleaned up immediately while using protective clothing such as a lab coat, eye or face protection and gloves. Chemical users can clean a small quantity of a spilled substance with an absorbent medium such as sand, cat litter, »or material supplied in a “spill kit.” Environmental Safety provides laboratories with Emergency Spill Kits containing basic spill cleanup material (nitrile gloves, absorbent material, a brush, a plastic Ziploc bag). The spill debris should be put into clear plastic bags, labeled, tagged, and properly disposed of by calling ESF personnel at 656-5400. For radioactive spills, call Radiation Safety at 656-2570. Once the chemical has been removed, the area should be thoroughly cleaned.

Note: Do not use Spill kit absorbent material to clean up Metallic Mercury or Hydrofluoric acid Spills.

In the event you experience a chemical spill that you do not know how to clean up, or if you need help because of the amount and/or hazard of the chemicals, follow the procedure below:

  • If possible, shut off any sources of ignition and stop the source of the spill.
  • Evacuate the room, closing the door behind you.
  • If the spilled chemical represents a fire hazard, pull the fire alarm to begin evacuating the building.
  • Call the Risk Management Environmental Safety Facility at 656-5400; or, if there is no answer, call UVM Police Services at 911. Be prepared to provide the following information: your name, the specific location of the spill, the name of the chemical, and the quantity involved.
  • Wait nearby for Police Services and the UVM Risk Management representative to arrive and let them know the details of the spill.

Spills involving radioactive materials must be contained in such a way as to prevent spreading the contamination. Contact the Radiation Safety Office at 656-2570 or, if there is no answer, UVM Police Services at 911 (from an on campus phone) for assistance in handling a radiation spill.

In the event of a chemical spill, release or other accident, lab workers will respond as outlined in the University Emergency Response plan. The size of the spill and its hazards will guide the appropriate response. If there is any doubt about the lab worker's ability to safely clean up the spill, call the Environmental Safety Facility or UVM Police Services. Note that proper emergency response depends upon a knowledge of the hazards present in the lab. For this reason, a campus wide inventory of the hazardous chemicals in University labs is conducted annually.

In Case of Personnel Exposures

All employees shall be instructed in the location and proper usage of emergency showers and eyewashes. The eyewash and emergency shower shall be inspected and flushed weekly. In case of medical emergency, summon UVM Rescue by calling UVM Police Services.

Emergency Phone Numbers

UVM Police (24 hours) 911*
Environmental Safety Facility (Risk Management Department)(available weekdays and through UVM Police at other times) 6-5400
Poison Control Center 658-3456

Please not that dialing "911" from a UVM phone will connect you to UVM Police Services.  911 from an outside line will connect you with the National 911 service.


Last modified February 06 2009 02:12 PM

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