Hazardous Chemical Exposures

In the event of an emergency, call 911 or activate a blue light phone.

If you've been exposed to a hazardous material, follow these first aid measures and report all incidents to your manager, supervisor or principal investigator, regardless of severity.

Seek treatment at University Health Services at McCosh Health Center or the University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro.

Chemicals on Skin or Clothing

1. Immediately flush with water for no less than 15 minutes (except for Hydrofluoric Acid, Flammable Solids or >10% Phenol – see below). For larger exposures, use a safety shower.

  • For flammable solids on skin, first brush off as much of the solid as possible, then proceed to step 2.
  • For hydrofluoric acid, rinse with water for five minutes and apply calcium gluconate gel, then get immediate medical attention. If no gel is available, rinse for 15 minutes and go immediately to University Health Services at McCosh or the University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro.
  • For phenol concentrations more than 10%, immediately irrigate or swab the affected area with polyethylene glycol (PEG). If PEG is not available, rinse with large volumes of water for 15 minutes. Do not use ethanol. Proceed to step 2.

2. While rinsing, quickly remove all contaminated clothing or jewelry. Seconds count. Do not waste time because of modesty. Use caution when removing pullover shirts or sweaters to prevent contamination of the eyes.

3. Check the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) to determine whether to expect delayed effects.

4. Discard contaminated clothing or launder them separately from other clothing. Leather garments or accessories cannot be decontaminated and should be discarded.

5. Do not use solvents to wash skin. They remove the natural protective oils from the skin and can cause irritation and inflammation. In some cases, washing with a solvent may facilitate absorption of a toxic chemical.

Chemicals in Eyes

  • Immediately flush eye(s) with water for at least fifteen minutes.
  • Hold eyelids away from your eyeball and rotate your eyes so that all surfaces may be washed thoroughly.
  • Use an eye wash when possible so that hands are free to hold the eyes open. If an eyewash is not available, pour water on the eye, rinsing from the nose outward to avoid contamination of the unaffected eye.
  • Remove contact lenses while rinsing. Do not lose time removing contact lenses before rinsing. Do not attempt to rinse and reinsert contact lenses.
  • Seek medical attention regardless of the severity or apparent lack of severity. Explain carefully what chemicals were involved

Chemical Inhalation

  • Close containers, open windows or otherwise increase ventilation, and move to fresh air.
  • If symptoms, such as headaches, nose or throat irritation, dizziness, or drowsiness persist, seek medical attention by calling Public Safety at 609-258-3333, 911 from a campus phone or activate a blue light phone or go to University Health Services at McCosh. Explain carefully what chemicals were involved.
  • Review the Safety Data Sheet to determine what health effects are expected, including delayed effects.

Accidental Ingestion of Chemicals

  • Immediately go to University Health Services at McCosh or contact the Poison Control Center at 800-962-1253 for instructions.
  • Do not induce vomiting unless directed to do so by a health care provider.

Accidental Injection of Chemicals

Wash the area with soap and water and seek medical attention, if necessary.


Stanley Howell
Program Manager - Chemical Safety

Steve Elwood
Director for Research Safety