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Controlling Chemical Exposures

There are three general methods for controlling one's exposure to hazardous substances. In the laboratory, these methods or a combination of them can be used to keep exposure below permissible exposure limits.

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There are three general methods for controlling one's exposure to hazardous substances:

  • Engineering Controls
  • Work Practices and Administrative Controls
  • Personal Protective Equipment

In the laboratory, these methods or a combination of them can be used to keep exposure below permissible exposure limits.

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Engineering Controls

Engineering controls include the following:

  • Substitution of a less toxic material
  • Change in process to minimize contact with hazardous chemicals
  • Isolation or enclosure of a process or operation
  • Use of wet methods to reduce generation of dusts or other particulates
  • General dilution ventilation
  • Local exhaust, including the use of fume hoods

The use of engineering controls is the preferred method for reducing worker exposure to hazardous chemicals, but with the exception of chemical fume hoods, may not be feasible in the laboratory.

Work Practice and Administrative Controls

Using good laboratory work practices, such as those outlined in this manual, help to reduce the risk of exposure to chemicals.

Administrative controls involve rotating job assignments and adjusting work schedules so that workers are not overexposed to a chemical. Given the nature of work in a research laboratory, administrative controls are not usually a realistic approach to controlling exposure.

Personal Protective Equipment

When engineering controls are not sufficient to minimize exposure, personal protective equipment, including gloves, eye protection, respirators and other protective clothing should be used.