Division Title

Spill in Laboratory



At the NIH, hazardous materials are used in laboratories, workshops and service areas. DOHS is available to consult with you on development of spill response procedures or to advise you in the event of a spill. We can assist with meeting your federal and state regulatory requirements regarding occupational health and safety regarding spills and spill cleanup. For environmental concerns regarding spills, please contact the Division of Environmental Protection  at 301-496-3537.



All injuries and exposures are required to be reported todohs webpageOccupational Medical Service (OMS) located in Building 10, Room 6C306. You may contact OMS at (301) 496-4411. 



Select one of the links below for more information:

Hazardous Chemical Spill Procedure 


Spills with Biological Materials


pdf documentSpills with Nanoparticles 

external webpageDivision of Radiation Safety 


Hazardous Chemical Spill Procedure

Close the windows and doors and have everyone leave the room. If the spill is in a chemical fume hood or biosafety cabinet close the sash before leaving.

Call the NIH Division of Fire and Rescue Services (Intranet Only) : 911 on-campus; 9-911 off-campus.

Do not reenter the room until the Division of Fire and Rescue Services (i.e., the NIH Fire Department) or appropriate authorities determine that there is no immediate detriment to life or health.  Consult with DOHS to determine if further evaluation is required. 

Chemical Exposure

The NIH Division of Fire and Rescue Services provides medical attention/transportation to any exposed/injured employees and assists with the spill clean-up.


If the chemical is not water reactive, wash all parts of the body that may have come in contact with the material with copious amounts of water and wait for the NIH Division of Fire and Rescue Services (Intranet Only) to respond. Eyes should be flushed for 15 minutes. For minor exposures, rinse the area thoroughly and report to the OMS PageOMS located in Building 10, Room 6C306.  You may contact OMS at (301) 496-4411.


You should be familiar with thepdf documentNIH Chemical Hygiene Plan.


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Spills With Biological Materials

Pathogenic Agents

Immediately evacuate the contaminated area and contact both the NIH Division of Fire and Rescue Services (Intranet Only) (911 or 9-911) and DOHS at (301) 496-2346. Do not enter or reenter an unsafe area. Post the contaminated room/area to prevent others from entering. 

Contaminated clothing should be removed and decontaminated in an appropriate method. Skin contamination requires the use of an approved antibacterial soap and gentle but thorough washing for 10-15 minutes to decontaminate properly. Care should be taken to prevent spreading the agent to other areas. 

After proper decontamination, you should report directly toOMS PageOMS located in Building 10, Room 6C306. You may contact OMS at (301) 496-4411.


Non Pathogenic Agents Or Agents That Have Low Virulence

Non-pathogenic agents or agents that have low virulence should be covered with paper towels to help contain the material and limit aerosolization. Wearing gloves, a lab coat and eye protection, pour a freshly made 10% bleach solution on the spill working from the outer edge toward the center. Allow the material to sit for the appropriate contact time (30 minutes minimum).  At the end of the contact time, the material can be picked up and disposed of in an autoclave bag or medical pathological waste (MPW) box. When cleaning, start at the outside and wipe in concentric rings toward the center.


Notify yourexternal webpageSafety and Health Specialist.


Do not open the lid if you suspect that a tube has broken. If you open the lid and identify that a tube has broken, immediately close the lid. Leave the area and wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. Post a warning sign at the room entrance and inform co-workers of the situation so they do not go into the area. Keep the lid closed for at least 30 minutes to allow the aerosols time to settle. Notify your supervisor or Principal Investigator and yourexternal webpageSafety and Health Specialist

Wear proper personal protective equipment (PPE) to clean the spill. Proper PPE includes gloves, lab coat, eye protection with respiratory protection as needed. Surfaces should be thoroughly wiped down with a fresh 10% bleach solution and paper towels. Paper towels should be disposed of as medical pathological waste (MPW). 


All injuries and exposures are required to be reported toOMS PageOMS located in Building 10, Room 6C306.  You may contact OMS at (301) 496-4411.


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