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How Do I Work with Chemicals? Print


In your experiment proposal, you must indicate whether you will be working with chemicals at the ALS. In the Experiment Safety Sheet (ESS), identify each chemical that you will be working with and let ALS This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it know if any are flammable, toxic, engineered nanomaterials or reactive items. LBNL has an on-line MSDS databasethat can provide information for most chemicals. In addition, indicate if there will be any exceptional hazards (explosives, very large volumes, etc.).

Users should follow their home institution’s shipping requirements when sending materials to the ALS. All shipments of hazardous materials must comply with DOT regualtions. Notify  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it (ext. 7222) when planning to "drop-ship" any chemicals to the ALS so that they can arrange for receipt and proper storage of materials. Users transporting materials from one building to another on-site, or down to the UC campus, should also let the Coordinators know so they can assist in following on-site transportation rules.

Chemical use on the experimental floor is normally restricted to:

  • Simple operations (such as loading samples into chambers)
  • Modest quantities (typically a gram/sample or less)
  • Relatively non-hazardous materials (typically NFPA toxicity <3)

These materials and how they will be used will be reviewed as a part of the ESS. You may not use any chemicals in any manner unless it is permitted by the ESS and you follow the specified controls. Typically, standard controls will be applied such as:

  • Labeling
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) including gloves, safety glasses, etc.
  • MSDS and hazard communication
  • Containment

These will be listed at the bottom of the chemical safety page of the ESS (example). If you will be using hazardous materials, this work will usually be restricted to a special bench at the beamline. The beamline scientist will show you these locations and the PPE requirements for working there. Any special controls for your experiment that may be prescribed will be written in the approved ESS (link to an example from HDI above).

ALS Chemistry Lab
Complex work, or work with more toxic or larger quantities of chemicals will usually be performed in our Chemistry Lab where fume hoods, centrifuges, stc. are available. There is a standard training and orientation procedure that must be completed to obtain access to this space, and a more detailed work description will be needed to review and approve work there. See ALS Chemistry Lab for more information.

Toxic Gases
Special portable gas cabinets may be used if you need to handle small quantities of toxic gases (NFPA toxicity >2) at the beamline (link to photo). There will be stringent controls on the experimental plumbing design and you will receive special training on the ALS controls procedures. Let the Beamline Scientist and Experiment Coordination (ext. 7222) know if you will use these types of gases.

If you need to store any materials after your experiment run, the containers must be bar-coded into the Lab database and formally tracked. You must find an ALS staff person who will agree to be their custodian and be responsible for managing them. Typically, these materials will only be stored for up to one year. If you cannot meet these requirements you must return the chemicals to your home institution.

It is preferred that you return your chemicals to your home institution. Contact Experiment Coordination (ext. 7222) for assistance in preparing them for transport. All standard rules for shipping materials to the ALS apply to their return.

If you must dispose of hazardous materials, this must be arranged before the user run begins, and be reviewed and approved as part of the ESS process.

Before beginning work with hazardous materials, you should familiarize yourself with the LBNL Emergency Response Guides. Location-specific copies are posted on bulletin boards around the ALS floor.

If a chemical spill results in an emergency, call the Lab’s emergency number directly (ext. 7911). All chemical spills should be reported to the Control Room (ext. 4969). Until help arrives, follow the SWIMS guidelines:

Warn others
Isolate the area
Monitor yourself
Stay until help arrives


For more information, contact the This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it (ext. 4499) or the This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it (ext. 4806).