Chemical Safety


Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) provides a full range of environmental, health, and safety services to the Boston University (BU) community. The Research Safety division of  Environmental Health and Safety provides professional services to the laboratory community by evaluating the risk(s) of chemicals in use, developing programs and procedures to ensure that chemicals are used in a safe and healthful manner, and supporting compliance with all applicable federal, state, and municipal regulations.

The Chemical Hygiene Plan

The Chemical Hygiene Plan (CHP) outlines the policies, procedures, and safe work practices used while working with chemicals in laboratories at Boston University. Laboratory workers must be familiar with the Chemical Hygiene Plan prior to the commencement of laboratory duties.

Chemical Inventories

Principal Investigators are required to keep an inventory of the locations and approximate quantities of all hazardous chemicals used or stored in their laboratories. Chemical inventories are maintained in the Research Information Management System (RIMS). Principal Investigators or their designated Safety Coordinators must update their laboratory’s chemical inventories at least annually. Chemical inventories must be updated immediately if:

  • The amount of any chemical stored or used in the laboratory increases or decreases significantly
  • New chemicals are added to the laboratory
  • Any chemicals on the inventory are no longer in use in the laboratory

Safety Data Sheets

Safety Data Sheets (SDSs), formerly known as Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs), provide information such as:

  • The properties of each chemical
  • The physical, health, and environmental hazards
  • Protective measures
  • Safety precautions for handling, storage, and transporting a chemical

Personnel should review a SDS prior to working with a chemical. SDSs should be kept as hard copies in the laboratory. Digital copies are acceptable if there is a computer station in the laboratory, to which all chemical users have access. SDSs are available through the following chemical manufacturer websites:

Chemical GHS Labelling
Starting on June 1 2016, all secondary (non –manufacturer) containers of hazardous chemicals MUST adhere to the Global Harmonizes System (GHS) format. All relevant information can be found in section 2 of the Safety Data Sheet, titled Hazard Identification. New GHS compliant label must include the following: Product Identifier, Signal Words, Hazard Statements, Precautionary Statements and Symbols (hazard pictograms).
EHS will assist the transition by providing labels. For future needs, contact FedEx/Kinkos (as described in guidance document).

Highly Hazardous Chemical Program

Environmental Health and Safety, in conjunction with BU/Boston Medical Center (BMC) Laboratory Safety Committees, have identified certain chemicals as Highly Hazardous Chemicals (HHCs). A chemical is considered “highly hazardous” if it has any health, physical, or environmental hazards that require additional safety and/or environmental practices beyond the standard laboratory safety requirements. View the Highly Hazardous Chemicals Program for more information regarding HHCs.

Other Chemical Safety Information

If you have any questions, please contact EHS online or by phone at 617-353-4094 (Charles River Campus) and 617-638-8830 (Medical Campus).