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CONTROL PROCEDURES FOR PARTICULARLY HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCES: Carcinogens and Reproductive Toxins & Acute Toxins

OSHA has established a category of chemicals known as particularly hazardous substances for which special precautions may be required.  Particularly hazardous substances include select carcinogens, reproductive toxins, and substances with a high degree of acute toxicity.  The Web resources listed below, container labels and MSDSs should be reviewed to identify these hazards.  The Chemical Management System (CMS) can also be used to identify these substances in a work area.

Carcinogens

Carcinogens are agents that cause neoplasms (tumors) in humans and/or animals.  Carcinogenic agents may be organic chemicals, inorganic chemicals, or hormones.  Some carcinogens react directly with a cell’s genetic information (the DNA), causing changes (mutations) that are incorporated into subsequent generations of that cell. Select carcinogens are agents that are strongly implicated as sources of cancer in humans.  Lists of select carcinogens and other resources are available in the Appendix.

Reproductive Toxins

Reproductive toxins are agents that affect reproductive capabilities including chromosomal damage (mutations) and produce effects on developing fetuses (teratogenesis).  Reproductive toxins can affect both men and women.  Examples of adverse reproductive health effects include birth defects, spontaneous abortion, fetal developmental damage, and infertility.  It is important to note that the first trimester of pregnancy is the period of most concern to the developing fetus because this is when the organs and the limbs are being formed.  During this period, many women may not yet be aware that they are pregnant.  For this reason, it is important that the use of reproductive toxins have been identified and that control measures are in place to protect a woman and her fetus from harmful exposure levels. Women who are (or are trying to become) pregnant may consult with Health Services before the start of any laboratory or shop activity involving reproductive toxins.  A list of reproductive toxins is provided in the Appendices.

Acutely Toxic Substances

Substances of high acute toxicity include materials that may be fatal or cause damage to target organs from a single exposure or from exposures of short duration.  They also include materials capable of causing intense irritation that can result in pulmonary edema (fluid and swelling in the lungs), chemical asphyxia, and systemic (bodywide) poisoning.  It is not practical to provide a list of all substances of high acute toxicity in this document.  The MSDS should be consulted to determine the toxicity of all substances.  An EH&S Industrial Hygienist may also be consulted for additional guidance.

Control Measures

  • Work Leads are responsible for identifying particularly hazardous substances used in the work area.  Review sources such as MSDSs for specific compounds. 
  • An assessment of the hazards and controls in place is necessary to limit employee exposures to these agents.  Contact an EH&S Industrial Hygienist to provide assistance.
  • Some operations involving these materials may require an AHD.   This is determined by the using Division in accordance with the provisions in PUB-3000, Chapter 6, “Safe Work Authorizations.”

OSHA requires that the following four categories of controls be considered for operations and activities involving particularly hazardous substances:

  • Establish posted designated areas.  A designated area may be a room, a section of a room, a bench top or a containment device (such as a lab hood). Requirements may be found in the section entitled “Designated Areas”.  NOTE: When handling substances (in non-laboratory settings) that are regulated by OSHA substance specific standards (such as asbestos), “regulated areas” will be established in accordance with the applicable OSHA standard.
  • Use containment devices (such as fume hoods, gas cabinets, gloveboxes or the equivalent).
  • Implement contaminated waste removal procedures.  NOTE: Compliance with LBNL waste handling policy and procedures as addressed in PUB-3000,  Chapter 20, “Hazardous Waste Disposal” satisfies this requirement.
  • Establish decontamination procedures.  These are necessary to prevent the spread of contamination to other areas.  Decontamination procedures include practicing good housekeeping by wiping down work surfaces at the end of the day and cleaning up drips, residues, and spills.  Cleanup materials used (such as absorbents and cloths) must be disposed of as hazardous waste.  NOTE: Wipe sampling, as described in the “Exposure Monitoring and Medical Consultation” section, may be required to confirm the effectiveness of decontamination procedures.

The following controls are required for particularly hazardous substances:

Training and Information

  • Employees who either handle or who may be exposed to particularly hazardous substances must complete Chemical Hygiene and Safety Training, EHS 348 (or 345 for Facilities personnel or 352 for summer students).
  • All employees in the work area must be trained in the specific hazards and controls of the materials being handled. Furthermore, employees working in designated areas are to be informed of the specific hazards and controls of the materials used.  Area-specific training is a line management responsibility.  EH&S Industrial Hygienists are available to provide assistance.
  • flag image Consult the section entitled: Labels, for labeling requirements for primary and secondary containers. flag image
  • The area entrance/designated and regulated areas must be posted with a Caution Placard depicting hazards and emergency contact information.

Substitution and Chemical Inventory Management

  • Identify and use safer chemical alternatives if possible.
  • If a safer chemical can’t be used, limit what you buy or borrow what you need from a colleague in your group or contact the Chemical Management System coordinator to assist you in finding a source of the chemical at LBNL.
  • Conduct periodic cleanouts to prevent accumulating unneeded chemicals.
  • Procure and use the minimum amount of material required for the operation, or
  • Keep working quantities of chemicals to a minimum. Don’t stockpile chemicals. 
  • Enter these materials into the Chemical Management System (CMS).

Ventilation

  • Use local exhaust ventilation such as a fume hood or glovebox when handling particularly hazardous substances in a manner that may produce an airborne hazard (such as fumes, gases, vapors, and mists). This includes operations such as transfer operations, preparation of mixtures, blending, sonification, spraying, heating, and distilling. See Engineering Controls for more information.

Work Practices

  • Transfer containers in bottle carriers.
  • Do not eat, drink, smoke, chew gum or tobacco, store food, or apply cosmetics in work or storage areas.
  • Use a mechanical aid or a pipette bulb for pipetting.
  • Open bottles or carboys slowly and carefully and wear protective equipment to guard hands, face, and body from splashes and vapors/gases.
  • Wipe drips/residues from containers and work surfaces. To facilitate decontamination, use stainless steel or plastic trays, absorbent paper with a moisture-proof lining, or other impervious material.
  • Upon completion of the operation, decontaminate or discard the protective covering material as hazardous waste.
  • Wash hands before leaving the work area and prior to consuming food/beverages.
  • Do not eat, drink, smoke, chew gum, apply cosmetics, or store food, beverages, and tobacco products in work areas where particularly hazardous substances are being used.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Skin and eye contact shall be prevented. The following PPE should be worn when handling these materials.  Additional information may be found in the Personal Protective Equipment Section:

  • At a minimum, safety glasses with side shields, laboratory coats (coveralls are acceptable in shop settings) and closed-toe shoes will be worn when handling these materials. This is to be considered as minimum protection and must be upgraded if necessary.
  • Additional PPE such as chemical goggles, face shields, chemical aprons, disposable coveralls, chemically resistant gloves, and respiratory protection must be worn if there is a greater chance of chemical exposure. An EH&S Industrial Hygienist may be contacted for assistance in selecting appropriate gloves and respiratory protection. The use of respiratory protection requires an industrial hygiene hazard evaluation and a medical clearance followed by a fit test and training by the Industrial Hygiene Group.
  • Consult “Eye and Face Protection” in the Personal Protective Equipment Section for guidance on the selection, uses, and limitations of safety glasses, chemical goggles, and face shields.
  • Since many chemicals are skin-absorbers (i.e., agents that readily pass through the skin) it is important to select gloves that are chemically resistant to the material.  Consult the PPE section.  This contains a list of skin-absorbing agents and provides detailed guidance for selecting chemically resistant gloves.   An EH&S Industrial Hygienist may also be contacted for assistance in selecting appropriate gloves.
  • Gloves must be selected on the basis of their chemical resistance to the material(s) being handled, their suitability for the procedures being conducted, and their resistance to wear as well as temperature extremes. Improper selection may result in glove degradation, permeation of the chemical through the glove and ultimately, personal exposure to the chemical.  This is a potentially serious situation.  Consult “Gloves” in the Personal Protective Equipment Section for guidance on the selection, uses, limitations, and disposal of chemically resistant gloves.  An EH&S Industrial Hygienist may also be contacted for assistance in selecting appropriate gloves.

Storage

flag image Consult the section entitled Storage Guidelines for hazardous material storage requirements, recommendations and information on chemical incompatibility.  Additional requirements are provided below.

Follow the storage guidelines in Control Procedures for Flammable and Combustible Liquids if the material is either flammable or combustible.

Emergency Procedures

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Last updated: 08/31/2010
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