3: Biology Laboratory Facility 

Signs|Showers|Eyewashes|Fume hoods

3.1 Design:

The biology laboratory facility has a general ventilation system with air intakes and exhausts that are capable of providing source of air for breathing. The system also provides air for input into the local ventilation systems such as fume hoods. Labels and warning signs should alert employees to potentially hazardous materials and allow those unfamiliar with the laboratory surroundings to identify hazardous chemical use and storage areas, safety facilities, emergency equipment, exits, and aid emergency response personnel.

3.1.1 Generic Signs

Every laboratory unit shall have the following signs visibly posted.

Emergency contact numbers (at least two names) shall be posted on the external doorway to the lab. These names and numbers shall be updated when personnel change. In case of an emergency, responders need this information to contact knowledgeable personnel about specific laboratory hazards.

If a laboratory has 10 gallons or more of a flammable liquid, the main doorway to the lab shall have a flammable liquid sticker visibly posted on it. This is an aid to fire response personnel.

3.1.2 Restricted Access and Designated Areas.

Facilities containing certain hazards must have warning signs posted at the designated area of the laboratory where the hazard exists and at the entranceway to the laboratory. Any areas placarded as such are restricted access, designated areas and have certain standards regarding training and use by employees. Such hazards include:

Class A carcinogens

Biological agents that require Biosafety Level 2 or higher


3.1.3 Storage Areas.

Chemicals should be stored according to compatibility (see Table C) and as designated by hazard classes. Particularly hazardous chemicals should be stored and handled with extreme care. When ordering chemicals that are unfamiliar, review the MSDS before purchase to ensure that use and storage guidelines are understood. Assure that the following areas are labeled and chemicals are stored appropriately:

Poisons (includes carcinogens)


Flammable Solids or Liquids



Low Hazards

3.2 Safety Equipment

3.2.1 Safety Showers.

Safety showers provide an immediate water drench of an affected person. The safety showers in the department have same design and method of operations. The following are ANSI standards for location, design and maintenance of safety showers:

Showers shall be located within 25 feet of areas where chemicals with a pH of <= 2.0 or >= 12.5 are used.

Showers shall be located within 100 feet of areas where chemicals with a pH of > 2 and < 4 or >= 9 and < 12.5 are used.

The location of the shower should be clearly marked, well lighted and free from obstacles, closed doorways or turns.

Safety showers should be checked and flushed regularly. Physical Plant checks all safety showers twice a year.

3.2.2 Eye Wash Facilities.

Eye wash facilities are required in all laboratories where injurious or corrosive chemicals are used or stored and are subject to the same proximity requirements as safety showers. The following are ANSI standards for location, design and maintenance of emergency eyewash facilities:

Optimally, those affected must have both hands free to hold open the eye to ensure an effective wash behind the lids. This means providing eye wash facilities that are operated by a quick release system and simultaneously drench both eyes.

Eye wash facilities must provide the minimum of a 15-minute water supply at no less than 0.4 gallons per minute.

Eye wash facilities should be flushed out for five minutes at a time, each cycle the laboratory is in use. A log documenting flushes is recommended.

The biology safety committee will monitor eyewash function. Eye wash fountains are in each teaching laboratory or a nearby, easily accessible common space.

3.3 Ventilation Controls

Ventilation controls are those controls intended to minimize employee exposure to hazardous chemicals by removing air contaminants from the work site. There are two main types of ventilation controls:

3.3.1 General (Dilution) Exhaust:

A general dilution exhaust is a room or building-wide system brings in air from outside and ventilates within. Laboratory air must be continually replaced, preventing the increase of air concentration of toxic substances during the workday. General exhaust systems are not recommended for the use of most hazardous chemicals.

3.3.2 Local Exhaust:

A ventilated, enclosed workspace intended to capture, contain and exhaust harmful or dangerous fumes, vapors and particulate matter generated by procedures conducted with hazardous chemicals.

To determine ventilation requirements, assess the MSDS. The following comments in an MSDS can indicate a need for special ventilation considerations beyond general exhaust ventilation:

"use with adequate ventilation"

"avoid vapor inhalation "

"use in a fume hood"

"provide local exhaust ventilation"

3.3.3 Proper Use of Local Ventilation Systems (Fume Hoods):

Once a local ventilation system such as fume hood is installed in a work area, it must be used properly to be effective. For use of hazardous chemicals warranting local ventilation controls, the following guidelines should be observed:

Use the fume hood when working with chemicals that are volatile or dust-producing and which have a Threshold Limit Value (TLV) or Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) less than 50 ppm or 100 mg/m3. (See Table E for PEL's of common chemicals.)

Use the fume hood when dispensing select carcinogens, teratogens, mutagens and chemicals with level 4 acute and chronic health hazard ratings from the primary container.

Use the fume hood when working with flammable chemicals that might produce vapors approaching one tenth of the lower explosive limits (LEL).

Use the fume hood when working with materials of unknown toxicity, or when the odor produced is annoying or unpleasant.


Confirm that the hood is functioning properly. For best results, all fume hoods in the department laboratory except in Room 219 should exhaust at a face velocity of about 100 linear feet per minute (LFPM). The fume hood in Room 219 is rated for work with radioisotopes. It should exhaust at 120 LFPM. Significantly greater or lesser velocity can cause conditions in which fumes escape or eddy into the worker’s face.

Sashes are mechanically prevented from exceeding opening limits that do not maintain 100 LFPM. To ensure proper functioning, confirm the exhaust velocity is at 100 LFPM. Lower the sash as far as you can while being able to work comfortably.

Raise any bulky equipment off the floor of the hood using rubber stoppers, or non-combustible braces to allow airflow under equipment.

Perform all work in the fume hood within the designated work zone, located six inches from the front and the back of the hood.

Do not use a fume hood for long-term storage.

Do not use hoods as chemical disposal units, do not evaporate hazardous chemicals in the hood.

Do not place your head inside the fume hood

Close the hood sash completely whenever you are not working in the hood.

In case of malfunction:

Call the Physical Plant (3306), and describe the problem.

Complete an Equipment Work Authorization Form (see Appendix E) which describes the problem, and attach it to the hood.

Remove all materials from the fume hood. Wash surfaces to allow safe access by Physical Plant employees.

Contact the Biology Laboratory Safety Officer, Dr. Ellen Jensen, who will verify that decontamination is complete. Her signature is required (indicating the fume hood is "cleared for service") before Physical Plant employees can begin repairs. In her absence, another member of the Biology Department Safety Committee can sign the form. If no members of the Biology Safety Committee are available, contact the Chemical Hygiene Officer, Mr. Ganard Orionzi, for his signature that the fume hood is "cleared for service."


The Chemical Hygiene Officer will perform or arrange for hood inspections annually. After an inspection, hoods are passed or failed for use based on the following criteria:

The face-velocity of air being drawn into the hood at maximum sash height is measured quantitatively in linear feet per minute (LFPM). One measurement is taken per square foot of face space and averaged. Hoods must have an average face-velocity of 80-150 LFPM, depending on their design, with 100 LFPM being the ideal average face-velocity.

The turbulence of the air is measured qualitatively by releasing smoke from a smoke tube. The smoke must be captured by the hood, with a minimum of turbulence.

If the exhaust system does not pass the face-velocity test and/or has excessive turbulence, it will be posted as "failed" by the inspector. The Biology Laboratory Safety Officer must contact Physical Plant to have the system repaired before hazardous chemicals can be used in the hood.

If the exhaust system does pass, the inspector will confirm the setting of the sash position for optimum hood performance. The hood sash should be set at this point for procedures that could generate toxic aerosols, gases or vapors. In general, the sash height should be set at a level where the operator is shielded somewhat from any explosions or violent reactions which could occur and where optimum airflow dynamics are achieved. If a fume hood has no marked inspection dates, please contact the Biology Laboratory Safety Officer or the Chemical Hygiene Officer to arrange for an inspection.

Certain types of local exhaust systems are not designed for the use of hazardous chemicals. If a local exhaust system's capabilities are not fully understood, check the manufacturers specifications or call the Biology Laboratory Safety Officer before using hazardous chemicals in the system.

3.3.4 Spill Kits and Other Safety Equipment

The Department maintains a standard clean up kits and other safety equipment. Refer to table 1 below for the list and storage location. Low-level hazard spill clean-up kits containing kitty-litter, Ziploc bags, and dustpans are stored in each laboratory.

Table 1 Protective equipment and spill clean-up supply storage locations

Safety equipment Storage Location
Bottle (acid) carriers NSC 130
Bonding and Grounding Cable NSC 130 on flammable cabinet
Dikes, Corn Husk By each safety shower
Disposable dust pans (small) NSC 130
Disposable impervious smock NSC 219
First Aid Kit Each teaching and research laboratory
Flammable Safety Cans (Justrite) NSC 130 on flammable cabinet
Glass Disposal Boxes Each lab, additional supply in NSC 130
Ground fault interrupters NSC 130
Hazardzorb 4-liter pillows NSC130
Kitty litter NSC 130
Mercury Clean-up Kit NSC 130
Waste Containers NSC 130
Ziploc bags, quart and gallon NSC 130, NSC 107