Laboratory Environmental Safety Guide

March 13, 2022 | Buyers' Guide

Hazardous chemicals and materials used by laboratories can contribute to instances of pollution and contamination when not handled correctly, resulting to serious consequences not only affecting laboratory and lab personnel safety but also the environment. Cost, time, and safety may be at risk if no substantial effort to prevent these accidents is made. 

Lab safety issues can be avoided by being aware on how to handle hazardous laboratory wastes. Flammables, combustible liquids, and hazardous chemicals in laboratories must be handled with extreme caution. Even with exhaustive safety programs created to ensure safe storage and use, there is still an evident number of accidents and fires recorded all throughout the year. Having awareness and basic knowledge on common safety issues related to flammables can save you from these troubles.

Human health risk, laboratory safety issues, and environmental contaminants can be prevented through safety plans and measures. This guide is prepared to give light on how using the right equipment can control lab waste and at the same time, help you go green.

How can you control hazardous leaks and oil spills?

Leaks and spills of hazardous chemicals can cause major health and environmental concerns when exposed to lab workers and the workplace. It can also cause slippery floors that may lead to inefficient lab operations and accidents, escalating risks for lab workers and costing you a large chunk of your budget to make up for any resulting damage.

Prevent these from happening by using the right equipment. Keep hazardous liquids from flowing your waterways and help avoid groundwater contamination with reliable Spill Containment Systems. Determine which one suits your laboratory needs by reading the list below:


  • HD Carboys - produced from HDPE material that aims to deliver safe collection of liquid waste from HPLC machines. The waste tubes are secured by waste fittings to provide a closed system needed for spill prevention.
  • Secondary Containers - ensures spill and leak prevention for long-term use with its HDPE material. These secondary containers have the ability to hold at least 115% of the primary container’s volume.
  • Safety Cans - designed for optimal laboratory safety featuring flame arresters to disperse heat and prevent ignition. Protects against accidental spills and maximizes convenience with hands-free solvent collection.
  • Safety Funnels - provides overfill protection and an air-tight seal for spill prevention during liquid transfers. For improved efficiency, each unit is reusable and resistant to most corrosive chemicals.

A wide inventory of spill containment equipment and accessories including heavy duty carboys, secondary containers, safety cans, smoking receptacles, and safety funnels can be used to liquid handling efficiency. Aside from these, exhaust filters, drum equipment, UN/DOT containers, cap kits, and replacement fittings can be used with spill containment systems to ensure full-proof laboratory environment safety.

What regulatory requirements should spill containment systems meet?

Controlling hazardous chemicals from laboratories positively impact the environment. Here are some regulations mandated by recognized organizations that help in the green revolution.

  1. As per EPA, spill containment systems should have the capacity to contain 10% of the volume of containers.
  2. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), a container presented as a safety can must not have a storage capacity of more than 5.3 gallons or 20 liters. A safety can should contain a screen or strainer in its enclosures and feature a spring-closing lid and spout cover for the purpose of relieving pressure during fire exposures. 
  3. OSHA mandates separation and protection protocols requiring usage of drainage to control spills. Areas where flammables and combustibles are transferred from one container to another must be separated from other operations in the facility by enough distance.
  4. The Federal Water Pollution Control Act and the Clean Water Act requires containers with a 55 gal or larger capacity to consider secondary containment solutions. Secondary containment units must have the capability to hold the largest container and have adequate freeboard for holding precipitation. 
  5. BPA-free carboys and boston square bottles are also recommended. These does not contain Bisophenol A, a chemical found in most plastic products known to cause adverse health effects from long-term exposure, especially ingestion.

How does laboratory safety countermeasures affect the environment?

Laboratories and other businesses can ensure efficiency and profit through energy optimization and reduction of natural gas costs. Labs saving oil and electricity as well as recycling and conserving Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) can help in attaining a pollution free environment, therefore also protecting people’s health. Spill containment systems made from recycled polyethylene not only prevent groundwater contamination but also conserves resources and saves landfill space. The usage of recycled materials can save 6.3 barrels of oil, 5,774 kwh of electricity and 30 cubic yards of landfill space. 

Safer laboratory environments is required in settings such as universities, biotech, pharmaceutical, and research companies. Through a comprehensive inventory of low cost but high value products including spill containment systems, maximum safety standards are met, waste emissions are reduced, the environment is protected, and accidents and human exposure to harmful fumes are avoided.

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