Lab Safety

Corrosive Chemicals

This SOP is generic in nature. It addresses the use and handling of substances by hazard class only. In some instances multiple SOPs may be applicable for a specific chemical (i.e., both the SOPs for flammable liquids and carcinogens would apply to benzene). If you have questions concerning the applicability of any item listed in this procedure contact the Chemical Hygiene Officer or the Laboratory Supervisor.

If compliance with all the requirements of this standard operating procedure is not possible, the Laboratory Supervisor must develop a written procedure that will be used in its place.

Corrosive chemicals are substances that cause visible destruction or permanent changes in human skin tissue at the site of contact, or are highly corrosive to steel. The major classes of corrosives include strong acids, bases, and dehydrating agents.

Decontamination procedures

Personnel: Immediately flush contaminated area with copious amounts of water after contact with corrosive materials. Remove any jewelry to facilitate removal of chemicals. If a delayed response is noted report immediately for medical attention. Be prepared to detail what chemicals were involved.

If there is any doubt about the severity of the injury, seek immediate medical attention.

Area: Decontamination procedures vary depending on the material being handled. The corrosivity of some materials can be neutralized with other reagents. Special neutralizing agents should be on hand to decontaminate areas.

Eye protection

Eye protection in the form of safety glasses must be worn at all times when handling corrosive materials.  Adequate safety glasses must meet the requirements of the Practice for Occupational and Educational Eye and Face Protection (ANSI Z.87. 1 1989) and must be equipped with side shields. Safety glasses with side shields do not provide adequate protection from splashes; therefore, when the potential for splash hazard exists other eye protection and/or face protection must be worn. It is recommended that face shields be worn when a splash potential exists with corrosive materials.


Where the eyes or body of any person may be exposed to corrosive chemicals , suitable facilities for quick drenching or flushing of the eyes and body shall be provided within the work area for immediate emergency use. Eye wash stations are provided in the _______________________. 

Fume hood

Manipulation of corrosive substances should be carried out in a fume hood if corrosive vapor production is anticipated.   The designated fume hood for corrosive chemicals is in the ___________.  The fume hood in the extraction laboratory should not be used for corrosive chemical experiments without the permission of the Laboratory Supervisor.


Gloves should be worn when handling corrosive chemicals. Disposable nitrile gloves provide adequate protection against accidental hand contact with small quantities of most laboratory chemicals.

Hazard assessment

Hazard assessment should include instruction on proper use and handling; spill control; and splash protection.

Protective apparel

Lab coats, closed toed shoes and long sleeved clothing should be worn when handling corrosive materials. Additional protective clothing should be worn if the possibility of skin contact is likely.  These include rubber aprons, face shields, and arm length rubber gloves.

Safety shielding

Safety shielding is required any time there is a risk of explosion, splash hazard or a highly exothermic reaction. All manipulations of corrosive materials which pose this risk should occur in a fume hood with the sash in the lowest feasible position. Portable shields, which provide protection to all laboratory occupants, are acceptable.

Safety shower

Drench showers are available in the ________________________.

Signs and labels

Containers: All corrosive chemicals must be clearly labeled with the correct chemical name. Handwritten labels are acceptable; chemical formulas and structural formulas are not acceptable.

Special storage

Segregate the various types of corrosives. Separate acids and bases. Liquids and solids should also be separated. Specially designed corrosion resistant cabinets should be used for the storage of large quantities of corrosive materials. Store corrosives on plastic trays. Do not store corrosive materials on high cabinets or shelves.  Acids and bases are stored in the ____________________.

Special ventilation

Manipulation of some corrosive materials outside of a fume hood may require special ventilation controls in order to minimize exposure to the material. Fume hoods provide the best protection against exposure to corrosive materials in the laboratory and are the preferred ventilation control device.

Spill response

Anticipate spills by having the appropriate clean up equipment on hand. The appropriate clean up supplies can be determined by consulting the material safety data sheet. This should occur prior to the use of any corrosive chemical. Corrosive spill controls neutralize the hazardous nature of the spilled material. Acids and bases require different types of spill control materials. In the event of a spill all personnel in the area should be alerted. Do not attempt to handle a large spill of corrosive materials. Vacate the laboratory immediately and call for assistance.

  • GVSU Public Safety Unit  911

Remain on the scene, but at a safe distance, to receive and direct safety personnel when they arrive.

Waste disposal

Oxidizing chemical wastes are stored in 4 liter glass bottles in the ___________________.  A separate bottle must be used for each chemical.  When 5 waste bottles have been filled, they should be transferred to the _________________________.

Page last modified May 10, 2010