WPI Chemical Spill Response Procedure


The wide range and quantities of hazardous chemical substances used in WPI facilities require preplanning in order for accidental releases to be handled in a safe manner.

Office Location: 37 Lee Street - 105B


Safety Data Sheets (SDS’s) provide spill and leak procedures for hazardous materials. This information should be reviewed by all personnel using hazardous materials, prior to using the material. Copies of SDS’s must be kept in each facility where the material is used, and a copy sent to the Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) Facilities Department. SDS’s are available at the EHS web site. Click on the "Related Resources" section for access to the available databases.

Spill kits with instructions, absorbents, and protective equipment should be available to clean up minor spills. Spill kits are commercially available from most chemical supply companies. If assistance is needed in obtaining an appropriate kit, contact the EHS Office at ehs@wpi.edu.


Chemical spills are typically classified as either minor or major. WPI uses the following definitions to differentiate between a minor and major spill.

A minor spill is one where the individual(s) responsible for the spill feel that they are capable of handling the spill safely without the use of respiratory protection or the assistance of specially trained emergency response personnel.

All other chemical spills are considered major. Campus Police should be contacted immediately at 508-831-5555 so that they can contact the necessary response personnel from EHS. If possible, provide the following information:

  • Your name, phone number and time of the spill.
  • Identity of the material and the quantity spilled.
  • Location of the spill: building, room number and location of the spill in the room.

In any case, if a spill or leak occurs and there is the possibility of an adverse exposure to occupants of the affected area(s), the personnel should evacuate immediately.

The cleanup of a chemical spill should only be taken by knowledgeable and experienced personnel. EHS is equipped to handle most spills that occur at WPI. If there is the slightest doubt on how to proceed, do not hesitate to call for assistance.

Campus Police - 508-831-5555


Minor Chemical Spill

In the event of a minor chemical spill:

  • Alert people in the immediate area of the spill.
  • Wear protective equipment as needed, including safety goggles or face shield, gloves and long sleeved clothing and lab coat.
  • Avoid breathing vapors from the spill. Increase area ventilation by turning on fume hoods or opening the fume hood sash to the full open position.
  • Confine the spill to a small area with absorbent materials.
  • Use an appropriate spill kit to neutralize and absorb inorganic acids and bases. For other chemicals, use appropriate kit or absorb with vermiculite, sand or other inert materials.
  • Collect all residue, place in a solid container with a screw cap, label the container, and call EHS (ehs@wpi.edu) for disposal information.
  • Clean the spill area with water.

Major Chemical Spill

In the event of a major spill of a hazardous material:

  • Evacuate immediately and call Campus Police at 508-831-5555. If possible, provide the information listed on the previous page including:
  • Your name, phone number and time of the spill.
  • Identity of the material and the quantity spilled.
  • Location of the spill: building, room number and location of the spill in the room.
  • Attend to injured or contaminated persons and remove them from exposure. In case of personal contamination, remove affected clothing and flush contaminated skin with water for at least fifteen minutes. Seek medical attention immediately.
  • Alert people in the surrounding area to evacuate.
  • If there is no health or safety risk, turn off ignition and heat sources and maintain fume hood ventilation.
  • Close doors to the affected area once the area is evacuated.
  • Have someone knowledgeable of the incident and the facility, assist the emergency personnel upon their arrival.

Mercury Spill

In the event of a spill involving mercury:

  • Report mercury spills to the Campus Police at 508-831-5555.
  • If contamination is on the floor, prevent spreading the mercury by isolating the area if possible (barrier tape, closed doors, etc.) Post a sign to warn others in the area.
  • Gloves, eye protection and a lab coat should be worn in the area of the mercury spill. Contained material should be placed in a secure, labeled container.

Date issued: November, 2003; Revised, January, 2004.
Reference is given to Georgetown Univ. for some of this material.