Hazardous Material Spills

The range and quantities of hazardous substances used on the Pomona College campus require chemical safety training in order to minimize accidental chemical releases and ensure that when one does occur, it is handled in a safe manner. For this reason, Chemical Safety Training is required for all students who work with chemicals.

Only knowledgeable and experienced personnel should handle cleanup of a chemical spill. In the case of any spill or leak, there is the possibility of an adverse exposure to occupants in the affected area(s), and the area should be evacuated immediately.

If there is the slightest doubt on how to proceed, do not hesitate to call for assistance:

Emergency: Campus Safety 909-607-2000
Pomona College Environmental Health and Safety Office 909-607-7359
Pomona College Facilities and Campus Services 909-621-8300


Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) provide spill and leak procedures for individual chemicals. This information should be reviewed during training conducted under either the Hazard Communication Standard (29 CFR 1910.1200) or the Laboratory Standard (29 CFR 1910.1450). Copies of SDSs should be received with shipments of new materials and maintained in each applicable work location.

Spill kits should be available to clean up minor spills. The SDS will provide instructions and proper personal protective equipment requirements for cleaning up minor spills. Spill kits are commercially available from most chemical supply companies. If assistance is needed in obtaining an appropriate spill kit, contact the Pomona College Environmental Health and Safety Office at 909-607-7359.

Major and Minor Spills

A minor chemical spill is one where the individual(s) responsible for the spill feel(s) that they are capable of handling the spill safely without the use of respiratory protection or the assistance of specially trained emergency response personnel (Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response: 29 CFR 1910.120).

The Pomona College Environmental Health and Safety Office (909-607-7359) is equipped to handle most spills that occur at the College. If there is no answer, call Campus Safety at 909-607-2000.

All other chemical spills are considered major spills. In these cases, call Campus Safety immediately (909-607-2000), and they will contact the necessary response personnel to do the clean up. If possible, provide the following information:

  • Your name and phone number
  • Identity of material and amount spilled
  • Time and location of spill: building, room and where in the room


Minor Chemical Spills

In the event of a minor spill of hazardous material:

  • Alert people in the immediate area of spill.
  • Wear protective equipment as needed, including safety goggles or face shield, gloves and lab coat. Consult the SDS for proper personal protective equipment requirements.
  • Avoid breathing vapors from the spill. Increase area ventilation by turning on hoods and opening windows.
  • Confine spill to 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 spill with vermiculite, dry sand or diatomaceous earth and paper towels.
  • Collect residue, place in container with lid, seal and label, and contact Pomona’s Environmental Health and Safety Office at 909-607-7359 for proper disposal information. After business hours, call Campus Safety (909-607-2000).
  •  Clean spill area with water.

Mercury Spills

This could include broken thermometers and CFL light bulbs.

  • Report mercury spills that are not contained or that could result in environmental contamination to Campus Safety (909-607-2000).
  • Gloves, eye protection and a lab coat should be worn in the area of a mercury spill.
  • If contamination is on the floor, prevent the mercury from spreading by isolating the area if possible (barrier tape, closed doors).
  • Contained material should be placed in a sealed, labeled container—polyethylene containers are best. Call Pomona’s Environmental Health and Safety Office at 909-607-7359 for disposal information.

Major Chemical Spills

In the event of a major spill of hazardous material:

  • Evacuate and immediately call Campus Safety (909-607-2000) with the following information for emergency response personnel:
    • Your name and phone number
    • Identity of material and time of spill
    • Location of spill: building, room, location in room
    • Amount of spilled material
    • Number of people exposed to chemicals
  • 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 15 minutes. Seek medical attention immediately. Bring the SDS with you if available.
  • Alert people in the surrounding area to evacuate. If there is no health or safety risk, turn off ignition and heat sources.
  • Close doors (do not lock them) to affected area once the area is evacuated.
  • Have someone knowledgeable of the incident and the laboratory available to assist emergency personnel when they arrive.