Laboratory Safety for Chemistry Students by Robert H. Hill, David Finster

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Laboratory Safety for Chemistry Students

Robert H. Hill, David Finster
546 pages
July 2010
"...this substantial and engaging text offers a wealth of practical (in every sense of the word) advice...Every undergraduate laboratory, and, ideally, every undergraduate chemist, should have a copy of what is by some distance the best book I have seen on safety in the undergraduate laboratory."  Chemistry World, March 2011

Laboratory Safety for Chemistry Students is uniquely designed to accompany students throughout their four-year undergraduate education and beyond, progressively teaching them the skills and knowledge they need to learn their science and stay safe while working in any lab. This new principles-based approach treats lab safety as a distinct, essential discipline of chemistry, enabling you to instill and sustain a culture of safety among students. As students progress through the text, they’ll learn about laboratory and chemical hazards, about routes of exposure, about ways to manage these hazards, and about handling common laboratory emergencies. Most importantly, they’ll learn that it is very possible to safely use hazardous chemicals in the laboratory by applying safety principles that prevent and minimize exposures.

Continuously Reinforces and Builds Safety Knowledge and Safety Culture

Each of the book’s eight chapters is organized into three tiers of sections, with a variety of topics suited to beginning, intermediate, and advanced course levels. This enables your students to gather relevant safety information as they advance in their lab work. In some cases, individual topics are presented more than once, progressively building knowledge with new information that’s appropriate at different levels.

A Better, Easier Way to Teach and Learn Lab Safety

We all know that safety is of the utmost importance; however, instructors continue to struggle with finding ways to incorporate safety into their curricula. Laboratory Safety for Chemistry Students is the ideal solution:

  • Each section can be treated as a pre-lab assignment, enabling you to easily incorporate lab safety into all your lab courses without building in additional teaching time.
  • Sections begin with a preview, a quote, and a brief description of a laboratory incident that illustrates the importance of the topic.
  • References at the end of each section guide your students to the latest print and web resources.
  • Students will also find “Chemical Connections” that illustrate how chemical principles apply to laboratory safety and “Special Topics” that amplify certain sections by exploring additional, relevant safety issues.


Preface to the Students.

To the Instructor.



Chapter 1 Principles, Ethics, and Practices.

1.1.1 The Four Principles of Safety.

1.1.2 What is Green Chemistry?

1.2.1 Rethinking Safety: Learning from Laboratory Incidents.

1.2.2 Green Chemistry in Organic Chemistry.

1.3.1 Fostering a Safety Culture.

1.3.2 Employers' Expectations of Safety Skills for New Chemists.

1.3.3 Laws and Regulations Pertaining to Safety.

1.3.4 Green Chemistry - The Big Picture.

Chapter 2 Emergency Response.

2.1.1 Responding to Laboratory Emergencies.

2.1.2 Fire Emergencies in Introductory Courses.

2.1.3 Chemical Spills: On You and in the Lab oratory.

2.1.4 First Aid in Chemistry Laboratories.

2.2.1 Fire Emergencies in Organic and Advanced Courses.

2.2.2 Chemical Spills: Containment and Clean-up.

Chapter 3 Understanding and Communicating about Laboratory Hazards.

3.1.1 Routes of Exposure to Hazards.

3.1.2 Learning the Language of Safety: Signs, Symbols, and Labels.

3.1.3 Finding Hazard Information – Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS).

3.2.1 The Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS).

3.2.2 Information Resources About Laboratory Hazards and Safety.

3.2.3 Interpreting MSDS Information.

3.3.1 Chemical Hygiene Plans.

Chapter 4 Recognizing Laboratory Hazards: Toxic Substances and Biological Agents.

4.1.1 Introduction to Toxicology.

4.1.2 Acute Toxicity.

4.2.1 Chronic Toxicity.

4.3.1 Carcinogens.

4.3.2 Biotransformation, Bioaccumulation, and Elimination of Toxicants.

4.3.3 Biological Hazards and Biosafety.

Chapter 5 Recognizing Laboratory Hazards: Physical Hazards.

5.1.1 Corrosive Hazards in Introductory Chemistry Laboratories.

5.1.2 Flammables - Chemicals with Burning Passions.

5.2.1 Corrosives in Advanced Laboratories.

5.2.2 The Chemistry of Fire and Explosions.

5.2.3 Incompatibles – A Clash of Violent Proportions.

5.3.1 Gas Cylinders and Cryogenic Liquid Tanks.

5.3.2 Peroxides – Potentially Explosive Hazards.

5.3.3 Reactive and Unstable Laboratory Chemicals.

5.3.4 Hazards from Low or High Pressure Systems.

5.3.5 Electrical Hazards.

5.3.6 Housekeeping in the Research Laboratory - The Dangers of Messy Labs.

5.3.7 Nonionizing Radiation and Electric and Magnetic Fields.

5.3.8 An Array of Rays—Ionizing Radiation Hazards in the Laboratory.

5.3.9 Cryogenic Hazards – A Chilling Experience.

5.3.10 Runaway Reactions.

5.3.11 Hazards of Catalysts.

Chapter 6 Risk Assessment.

6.1.1 Risk Assessment - Living Safely with Hazards.

6.2.1 Using the GHS to Evaluate Chemical Toxic Hazards.

6.2.2 Understanding Occupational Exposure Limits.

6.3.1 Assessing Chemical Exposure.

6.3.2 Working or Visiting in a New Laboratory.

6.3.3 Safety Planning for New Experiments.

Chapter 7 Minimizing, Controlling and Managing Hazards.

7.1.1 Managing Risk – Making Decisions about Safety.

7.1.2 Laboratory Eye Protection.

7.1.3 Protecting Your Skin – Clothes, Gloves and Tools.

7.1.4 Chemical Hoods in Introductory Laboratories.

7.2.1 More about Eye and Face Protection.

7.2.2 Protecting Your Skin in Advanced Laboratories.

7.2.3 Containment and Ventilation in Advanced Laboratories.

7.3.1 Safety Measures for Common Laboratory Operations.

7.3.2 Radiation Safety.

7.3.3 Laser Safety.

7.3.4 Biological Safety Cabinets.

7.3.5 Protective Clothing and Respirators.

7.3.6 Safety in the Research Laboratory.

7.3.7 Process Safety for Chemical Operations.

Chapter 8 Chemical Management: Inspections, Storage, Wastes, and Security.

8.1.1 Introduction to Handling Chemical Wastes.

8.2.1 Storing Flammables and Corrosives.

8.3.1 Doing Your Own Safety Inspection.

8.3.2 Managing Chemicals in Your Laboratory.

8.3.3 Chemical Inventories and Storage.

8.3.4 Handling Hazardous Laboratory Waste.

8.3.5 Chemical Security.



ROBERT H. HILL, Jr, PhD, has more than thirty years of experience working in the occupational and environmental health community at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). He has worked in the CDC research laboratories of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the National Center for Environmental Health. Dr. Hill has also worked in the Office of Health and Safety, serving as acting director.

DAVID C. FINSTER, PhD, teaches chemistry at Wittenberg University, where he has served as chair of the Chemistry Department. He is also the university's Chemical Hygiene Officer and a Certified Chemical Hygiene Officer (NRCC, 1999). In addition, Dr. Finster has presented numerous talks and workshops on the application of intellectual development theory to learning science and chemistry.

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