Chemical Spill Response Guide

HazMat Emergency Response Coordinator
Wayne Brashear: (479) 263-1622

Chemical Hygiene Officer
Rick Williams: (479) 879-2161

Reportable Quantities:

The Reportable Quantity (RQ) of a spilled hazardous material is one (1) pound for many chemicals. The university is legally required to report certain spills to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and to the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality within twenty-four (24) hours of the spill. In order for the university to comply with this requirement, you must immediately report any spill of hazardous material over one (1) pound to EH&S (575-5448). There can be legal consequences for a person who spills a Reportable Quantity of hazardous material and fails to report it.

Call 911 if the spill is:

  • Greater than 1 gallon
  • Very toxic material
  • Poses a fire hazard
  • If you need assistance with cleanup

In the event of a spill which:

  • involves the release of a type or quantity of a chemical that poses an immediate risk to health, or
  • involves an uncontrolled fire or explosion or
  • involves a highly dangerous chemical or
  • involves unknown or highly reactive chemical(s) or
  • involves a large quantity of chemical (generally over 1 liter of liquid or 1 kg of solid material)
  1. Immediately activate the nearest fire alarm and evacuate the building.
  2. Call 911 and provide details of the accident including:
    • location
    • class of hazardous materials involved
    • size of spill
    • description of any personal injury
    • control measures already taken
    • your name and phone number
    • how you can be identified when emergency personnel arrive at the scene

If the accident involves personal injury or chemical contamination, follow the above steps as appropriate, and at the same time:

  1. Move the victim from the immediate area of fire, explosion, or spill (if this can be done without further injury to the victim or you).
  2. Locate nearest emergency eyewash or safety shower.
  3. Remove any contaminated clothing from the victim and flush all areas of the body contacted by chemicals with copious amounts of water for 15 minutes.
  4. Administer first aid as appropriate and seek medical attention.

In the event of a spill involving the release of a chemical that does not pose an immediate risk to health and does not involve chemical contamination to the body:

  • Notify lab personnel and neighbors of the accident.
  • Isolate the area, closing doors and evacuating the immediate area if necessary.
  • Remove ignition sources and unplug nearby electrical equipment.
  • Establish exhaust ventilation, if possible, by turning on fume hoods.
  • Locate the spill kit.
  • Choose appropriate personal protective equipment (goggles, face shield, impervious gloves, lab coat, apron, etc.).

Note: All lab personnel must be properly fit tested before using a respirator. Contact EH&S (575-5448) for more information.

  1. Confine and contain spill by covering or surrounding it with appropriate absorbent material.
  2. Neutralize acid and base spills prior to cleanup.
  3. Sweep solid material into a plastic dust pan and place in a sealed 5 gallon container.
  4. Wet mop spill area. Be sure to decontaminate broom, dustpan, etc.
  5. Put all contaminated items (gloves, clothing, etc.) into a sealed 5 gallon container or plastic bag.
  6. Request an EH&S Hazardous Waste Pickup.
  7. Refer to the Spill Cleanup Quick Reference for more information.

Acid Chlorides:

  • Use Oil-Dri, Zorb-All, or dry sand.
  • Avoid water and avoid sodium bicarbonate.

Alkali Metals (lithium, sodium, magnesium, potassium):

  • Cover with contents from a Class “D” fire extinguisher.
  • Avoid contact with water.

White or Yellow Phosphorus:

  • Blanket with wet sand or wet absorbent.


  • Neutralize spill with a 5% solution of sodium thiosulfate.
  • Absorb with inert absorbent material.

Hydrofluoric Acid:

  • Neutralize with soda ash or lime (or absorb with special HF spill pillow).
  • Absorb with inert absorbent material.


  • Use aspirator bulb or suction device to collect mercury beads (Do not use a vacuum cleaner).
  • Mop up mercury with mercury decontaminating powder.
  • Call EH&S (575-5448) and ask for assistance if you are unable to accomplish adequate clean up.

Label waste with a Hazardous Chemical Waste Tag and request an EH&S Hazardous Waste Pickup.

Skin Contact:

  1. Immediately flush with copious amounts of water under an emergency shower.
  2. Remove all clothing while under the shower.
  3. Flush skin for 5 minutes.
  4. Apply calcium gluconate gel (2.5%) while wearing clean impervious gloves. (If calcium gluconate gel is not available continue to flush skin until medical personnel arrive).
  5. Get medical attention immediately.

Eye Contact:

  1. Immediately flush eyes with water under an eyewash for 15 minutes.
  2. Get medical attention immediately.


  1. Remove victim to fresh air.
  2. Get medical attention immediately.
  3. Inform medical personnel that injury involves hydrofluoric acid and give them a copy of the material safety data sheet.

Every laboratory that uses chemicals must have access to a spill control kit. The keys to an effective spill kit are location and content. Spill kits should be strategically located around work areas in fixed locations so they are easily accessible. Although most spill kit contents are common items that may be found throughout the lab, they must be consolidated into a kit for quick access in the event of an emergency.

Spill kits can be purchased through most supply vendors that sell chemicals or safety supplies. The following is a list of recommended items to be contained in a chemical spill kit; however, it is important that spill kits be tailored to meet the specific spill control needs of each laboratory. Spill kits must be checked periodically, and restored after each use.

Each spill kit should have at least enough material to handle a 1 Liter spill of liquid or 1 kg of dry chemical. Labs with floor drains should stock spill socks, pillows, pads or enough bulk absorbant to contain the spilled material away from the drain.

Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) procedures for the spilled chemical take precedence over these procedures in the event they differ.

  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) (should be in a sealed container):
    • goggles and face shield
    • heavy neoprene or nitrile gloves
    • disposable lab coat and corrosives apron
    • plastic vinyl booties
    • dust mask/respirator (All lab personnel must be properly fit tested before using a respirator.)
  • Absorbents:
    • spill socks, pillows or pads in sufficient quantity to contain a spill and keep it away from any floor drains.
    • universal spill absorbent - 1:1:1 mixture of Flor-Dri (or unscented kitty litter), sodium bicarbonate, and sand. This all purpose absorbent is good for most chemical spill including solvents, acids (not good for hydrofluoric acid), and bases.
    • acid spill neutralizer - sodium bicarbonate, sodium carbonate, or calcium carbonate.
    • alkali (base) spill neutralizer - sodium bisulfate.
    • solvents/organic liquid absorbent - inert absorbents such as vermiculite, clay, sand, Flor-Dri, and Oil-Dri.
    • bromine neutralizer - 5% solution of sodium thiosulfate and inert absorbent.
    • hydrofluoric acid - HF compatible spill pillow or neutralize with lime and transfer to a polyethylene container.
  • Clean-Up Material:
    • broom, plastic dust pan and scoop
    • plastic bags (30 Gallon, 3 mil thickness) for contaminated PPE
    • one plastic bucket (5 gallon polyethylene) with lid for spill and absorbent residues
    • hazmat bags (chemical, biological, and/or radiological (as appropriate)
  • Other:
    • hydrofluoric acid antidote gel - calcium gluconate (if hydrofluoric acid is used in the lab)
    • mercury spill kit - aspirator bulb and mercury decontaminating powder
    • alkali metals - dry sand or a Class “D” fire extinguisher
    • acid chlorides - Oil Dri, Zorb-All, or dry sand
    • pH paper
    • tongs