Karolinska Institutet (KI) conducts an environmentally hazardous C-activity and many of the substances (chemicals, infections, radioactive substances, drugs, etc.) handled in KI's laboratory are dangerous in one way or another.
Prior to starting work with hazardous substances, the handling must be risk-assessed.
Chemical risks are the risks that can arise from the handling of chemical products according to the working environment, the external environment and safety. All employees at KI who handle chemical products at their workplace must be familiar with the laws, rules and procedures that apply in the field and are responsible for following them.
(according to section 4 in AFS 2011:19)
Chemical substance or mixture of chemical substances which have been manufactured or extracted and whose function is primarily determined by its chemical composition or constitutes waste.
Chemical product, chemical substance or several chemical substances together which can cause ill-health or accidents through.
- properties which make it hazardous to health
- its properties when it depends on the way in which the substances are used or occur
- its temperature
- reducing the level of oxygen in the air
- increasing the risk of fire, explosion or other hazardous chemical reaction.
Mold spores and chemical substances released from microorganisms that can cause allergies and toxic effects are also included in the definition of a chemical hazard.
Manufacturing, processing, treatment, packaging, storage, transport, use, disposal, destruction, conversion and comparable procedures.
KLARA product database
For questions please contact KI:s Central KLARA administrator Erik Stenholm.
According to the law and regulations all organizations and companies must keep a register of chemical products and biotechnical organisms that may pose a risk to health and / or environment.
At Karolinska Institutet, this registry of all chemical products handled shall be conducted in KLARA, including those that are not hazardous.
The register must be updated continuously and at the beginning of each calendar year KI conducts a chemical inventory in KLARA. In KLARA there is also a risk assessment tool.
In KLARA it is possible to:
- Search for information of chemical products in the product database
- Keep chemical register and make inventories (possible with bar code)
- Take out lists and reports
- Conduct risk assessments
There are different kinds of access / profiles in KLARA:
- Inventory taker (one or more in each research group / unit, delegated by the nearest manager)
- Risk assessment (anyone who needs)
- Reading rights (chemical register and / or risk assessment)
KLARA accounts are always personal, and you are not allowed to give out your login information to others. Use your KI ID as login. Your profile in KLARA is administered by the department's chemical representative.
To get a login as an inventory taker you need to complete a KLARA inventory course at KI and you need a signed delegation from your nearest manager. More information about the delegation and a role description can be found here.
Information on current KLARA courses is published in KLARA. Select “Course booking” (left column of KLARA’s start page).
KLARA - Chemical inventory
At the beginning of each year, all research groups at KI must perform a mandatory chemical inventory in the KLARA product database. The inventory is open for about 8 - 12 weeks and the purpose of the inventory is to update the chemical register.
The inventory is the basis for the reports that KI is required to submit to various supervisory authorities.
During the inventory, the register shall be updated with regards to:
- Products (name, CAS, KLARA-ID, concentration, content etc.)
- Quantities (amount per container / package)
- Maximum stored amount - all flammable products incl. liquids and gases must be registered with ”max storage”, more information here.
- Suppliers (from whom the product is purchased)
- Safety data sheet (SDS, from the supplier from which the product is purchased, must be in Swedish and according to CLP / REACH)
- Classification (according to the supplier's SDS and according to CLP / REACH)
- Premises (right campus, building, house, floor and room number)
Narcotic drugs and other pharmaceuticals should not be registered in KLARA. Antibodies and proteins do not need to be registered unless they are mixed with chemicals (e.g. sodium azid often used as a preservative).
Kits, cell media, buffers and all gas containers must be registered.
It is recommended to use KLARA barcodes to increase security and save time and resources. Read more about the barcode function below.
Contact the department's chemical representative for help with account and authorization in KLARA as well as, if needed, support around KLARA and inventory.
Send new or updated SDS to email@example.com
KLARA - Barcodes
To improve the work with safe handling of hazardous chemicals and to simplify the annual chemical inventory procedure, KI has implemented a barcode application in the KLARA product database.
Presentation of the different features offered in the new barcode application:
1) Basic function used for the annual chemical inventory
KLARA generates a unique barcode for each product, which is printed and placed on the container. A barcode reader is used during the inventory to register chemical products in order to update the chemical register.
It is recommended to also generate a barcode for the storage (e.g. room / cabinet / shelf).
2) Advanced function used for safe storage
Products are tagged with a chemical property, for example acid, base, flammable, poison etc. Storages are tagged in the same manner and the barcode reader is used for "logging in" and "logging out" chemicals. The user will receive a warning from the system if the chemical is logged in to a storage with wrong tagging, for example if an acid is placed among the bases.
3) Advanced function used to keep track of the chemicals
If the lab has many chemicals, it may be useful to use the barcode application to keep track of the chemicals. Each storage and each person get a unique barcode and the system is used for "logging in" and "logging out" the products, e.g. a product always has a position; it is either placed in a storage or with a person.
4) Logging in to KLARA barcode app using personal barcode
To simplify the features described in issue 3, it is possible to use a personal barcode for logging in to the KLARA barcode app. This is particularly useful if the lab has a shared computer designed for the purpose and placed in the chemical stock room.
Get started with barcodes: For using KLARA barcodes you need to have an inventory taker profile in KLARA. In addition, a special profile is required for KLARA barcodes. Contact the department’s chemicals representative for assistance with permissions in KLARA as well as information on installing the barcode app. Barcode app can be downloaded from the Software Center, “KLARA - BarcodePcApp”.
You also need an installation file. You get access to the file by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
Printers and scanners (funded by the department / research group):
- Zebra Printer: GK42-102520-000
- Scanner, barcode scanner (both wireless and cordless)
- Labels: LAB 8000T CRYOCOOL Perm Adhes 30 * 15mm 25.4mm core 3R
- Color band: 05095GS06407.
The size of the label is adapted to the needs, these labels above are only recommended dimensions for "regular" use.
Printers and scanners can be ordered via KI's framework agreement. Most importantly, the printer is compatible with the KLARA barcode app (compatibility questions, contact email@example.com), so it is recommended to use the specified printer, but there may be other options that work as well.
Scanner selection is more flexible and dependent on the need. If the system is to be used for logging in and out of chemical products, it may be wise to invest in a wireless scanner.
KLARA - Structure and substructure search
Instead of searching for chemical products in KLARA using product names, IUPAC nomenclature, trivial names, CAS or KLARA ID, it is also possible to search for structure, "exact structure" or "substructure".
In order to add the structure of a molecule in KLARA the person’s profile in KLARA has to include "write user molecular structure", i.e. the right to insert new molecular structures into KLARA. To do this, one must be an organic chemist or equivalent, e.g. that you have sufficient knowledge of molecular structures.
You can manually draw new structures in the drawing tool, but you can also import so-called MOL files.
Safety Data Sheet (SDS)
The information in KLARA is mostly based on information from supplier’s SDS:s, e.g. product names, synonyms, article numbers, classification, ingredients etc. As a user of chemical products in your work, you are required to have access to the chemical products SDS when handling hazardous chemicals.
There are many in the workplace who may need to use the SDS:s, primarily those who handle the products, but many more should be informed about the chemical risks. Persons working in connection with the source of risk, e.g. cleaning staff, technicians and administrative staff, even environmental coordinators, purchasers and transport managers may also need access to SDS:s.
Here are some common tasks that SDS:s are used for:
- Conduct risk assessments of the environmental and health risks associated with the chemical product in question, as a basis for designing safe workplaces and working methods
- Provide a basis for emergency procedures and emergency support
- Be a support when purchasing chemical products
- Provide a basis for chemical targets / substitution / phasing out of hazardous chemicals
- Provide a basis for how products should be treated as waste
The supplier must deliver SDS to the customer at least with the first delivery. The sheet should be free of charge, written in Swedish and dated. It should not be older than two to three years. It is common for SDS:s to be sent in electronic form. However, the recipient must first approve this.
It can also be a valuable service that the sheets are also available on the company's website. There sometimes are deficiency in the supplier’s safety data sheets. Therefore, do not be afraid to contact the supplier to make comments or request supplements. A safety data sheet should contain 16 different main headings.
Special requirements for allergenic chemical products
Some chemical products can cause allergic reactions. It may be allergic skin reaction, asthma symptoms or breathing difficulties. For an allergic reaction to occur you need to be exposed to an allergenic substance. It is important to avoid exposure to allergenic chemical products because if you get an allergy caused by exposure to an allergenic substance you can get symptoms from a very small amount of the substance.
If a risk assessment shows that there is a risk for exposure to any of the chemicals beneath, there are special requirements.
- chemical products labelled with H317 (may cause allergic skin reaction) or H334 (may cause asthma symptoms or breathing difficulties)
- chemical products which contain ethyl- or methyl-2-cyanoacrylate
- work that entails thermal degradation of materials that release iso-cyanates or processes that release formaldehyde
It must be clearly stated in the documentation for the risk assessment:
- the areas and spaces where the hazardous chemical products shall be handled
- the protective measures necessary to ensure that the exposure is as low as possible
- which protective equipment to use and in which situations it is required
- how the function of equipment and ventilation is to be checked and maintained to prevent allergenic substances from causing ill-health
If there is a risk for other employees to be exposed in the area where the substances are handled, signs must be posted. Also, those who are leading or are employed in the work with the substances mentioned above should be informed about how to carry out these tasks safely and about the risks involved with the handling.
Training is required in order to lead or be actively employed in work with hazardous chemical products that contain (AFS 2011:19 §37e):
2. epoxy plastic components
3. organic acid anhydrides
4. formaldehyde resins
5. methacrylates that shall be labelled with H317 or H334
6. acrylates that shall be labelled with H317 or H334
7. any work that entails the thermal degradation of materials that release isocyanates or processes that release formaldehyde.
Training is also required for work with chemical products containing ethyl-2-cyanoacrylate or methyl-2-cyanoacrylate, if the work is carried out for more than a total of 30 minutes per week.
The training shall at least contain information about the risks entailed by the work, and the protective measures that may need to be taken. A training certificate should be obtained, and the certificate may not exceed five years. Training certificates must be available and by request shown otherwise it can lead to a penalty fee of 10,000 SEK per employee.
For booking of the training please contact the Chemical safety coordinator, see contact below.
For some of the work with allergenic chemical products it is required to do a medical check-up with or without aptitude report, see section 37 f and g in the provision Chemical hazards in the working environment 2011:19. Also see the provision about Medical check-up (only in Swedish: Medicinska kontroller), AFS 2019:3. In case a aptitude report is required, a penalty fee is applied when the aptidude report is missing.
More information about medical check-up under page Statutory medical check-ups.
AFS 2011:19 § 38-44 states the rules that apply for handling CMR-classified products (carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic to reproduction).
CMR classified chemical products are those marked with hazard statements and/or risk phrases:
H350: May cause cancer
H340: May cause genetic defects
H360: May damage fertility or the unborn child
A CMR classified chemical product is only allowed to be handled if there is a documented investigating showing that it is not technically possible to replace the product with a less hazardous product. A form for this purpose is found under Documents. If the investigation shows that it is not possible to replace the CMR-product, then it is required to follow documented handling instructions and to conduct written risk assessments before work starts.
The following information should be clearly included in the risk assessment:
- In which places and areas will the product be handled and what measures will be taken to ensure that only people who are necessary on the workplace are present in this area?
- What safety measures will be taken to ensure that the exposure is minimal?
- In what situations is it important with personal protective equipment?
- Handling and functioning of the technical equipment, processes and ventilation should be monitored to detect abnormalities early that can lead to increased risk.
It is important to make a careful risk assessment and to develop routines so that the handling of CMR substances is carried out in such a way that the risk of hazardous exposure is minimized.
If there is a risk for hazardous exposure because of e.g. an accident, the ventilation fault etc., an exposure register must be established. The aim of the registry is to facilitate investigations of work-related diseases and should therefore be stored in a safe place for 40 years.
Substances covered by the register requirements are:
Carcinogens - chemical products / substances classified according to CLP as H350 (may cause cancer).
Mutagens - chemical products / substances classified according to CLP as H340 (may cause genetic defects).
No reproductive toxic substances are covered by this statement.
Note! The requirement to establish an exposure register also applies to work that involves skin exposure to mineral oils that have previously been used to lubricate and cool moving parts in an engine (e.g. when changing oil).
The register should contain:
- The employee's name and social security number
- Duties and the period when the work was conducted
- Measured or estimated levels of exposure
The prefect or a person who got this task delegated is responsible that the register is kept. More information, including the form for the report of the exposure, can be found here (only in Swedish).
Purchase of chemical products
Purchases of new chemicals must ensure that the amount of chemicals purchased are minimized and that the chemicals are only intended for use within KI's activities. The number of people who order chemicals should be limited. Each department / equivalent should appoint one or several persons responsible for purchase, who are familiar with agreements and regulations in that field.
Purchases are made via contracted suppliers. Information on framework agreements and direct procurement can be found on the Staff Portal under Purchasing and public procurement.
Delivered packages must be stored securely until the delivery is taken over by persons from the department / equivalent with best knowledge of the type of product.
Preparations before the purchase of chemical products:
- A risk assessment should be made within the order to prevent risks that may arise anywhere during the purchase chain. The entire management, from purchasing to waste management, must be risk assessed.
- Investigate whether the chemical products require a permit or is prohibited from use. Any permits and dispensaries must be in place before order.
- For CMR classified products, a documented investigation should be made, to investigate if there is a possibility to use a less hazardous product instead.
- Some allergy-causing chemical products require training certificates before handling. The training must be finished before the order is made.
- For some products it is required that the employer arranges medical controls before work starts, e.g. lead, cadmium and mercury.
When importing / purchasing chemical products from other countries outside the EU and EEA special import regulations apply. Read the “Reach import document” (see under Documents).
If you have any questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Risk assessment for handling of hazardous chemicals
Before the laboratory work with chemicals begins, evaluate whether there are any risks with the handling / method, and if protective measures and handling instructions are required. There must also be an emergency routine in place in case of spill, accident, leakage, or fire.
The nearest manager is responsible for carrying out risk assessments, however, a risk assessment must be made in any case by the person who will perform the handling / method.
The risk assessment requirement covers all handling, including storage, transport, and waste. Safety, work environment and external environment must be considered. Premises, employees, and other staff should also be given consideration, and it is important to ensure that poisons, toxins, and other potent substances do not get available to unauthorized persons.
There may also be a risk of sabotage and espionage.
If substances with unknown contents are handled, the precautionary principle applies, i.e., the substance has to be handled as dangerous for both human and environment.
Risk assessments must be signed by the responsible group or research leader, must be kept close to the workplace, and must be regularly reviewed, especially if new circumstances or knowledge is added.
It is important that everyone on the workplace is informed and understands the risks that exist - for example, it may be necessary that the risk assessment is available in both Swedish and English.
In KLARA there is a module for risk assessment with detailed associated instructions. You can log into KLARA by contacting the department's chemical representative. Courses / workshops in KLARA risk assessment are offered regularly to all KI employees. More information on the Staff portal page Courses by the Environment safety- and security unit.
Routine of Risk assessment
A written risk assessment should preferably be made in the KLARA risk assessment tool or on a plain sheet of paper. To start with, make a risk assessment of the most common methods that exerts the greatest risk (e.g., most hazardous chemical). Focus on the most dangerous parts (risky moments) of the overall handling.
The risk assessment should include:
- Method description and premises
- Risk sources as substances / products, incl. classification, concentration, amount, etc.
- Risky moments and situations
- Type of exposure (inhalation, skin contact, etc.)
- Personal protection (gloves, googles, etc.)
- Preventive measures (training, medical check-up, etc.)
- Actions in case of spill, accident, leakage, or fire
- Estimated total risk (should be low, otherwise you have to adapt accordingly, e.g., additional protective measures, smaller quantities, etc.)
- Name of the risk assessor (the person / persons performing the handling)
- Signature (group or research leader)
Substitution and phase-out of hazardous chemicals
By law, hazardous chemicals must be phased out or their use reduced / minimized. This applies to products consisting of or containing:
- Halogenated Solvents (replaced with Non-halogenated)
- Lead, cadmium, mercury and other heavy metals
- CMRs (carcinogenic, mutagenic and / or reproductive toxic)
KI:s laboratories must continuously work actively to reduce the amount of these substances.
Practically, substitution involves investigation whether there are alternatives to the hazardous chemicals used in teaching and research, for example by:
- replace a single chemical (e.g. a solvent)
- change to another method where less dangerous products are use
If it is not possible to substitute, one should instead try to minimize the amount of dangerous chemicals used, e.g. by:
- make fewer experiments and / or work on a smaller scale
- discard old chemicals and unused ones
- order smaller quantities when purchasing new products
- buy kits and ready-made mixes instead of clean and concentrated products
More information about substitution, see Links below.
Chemical goal for 2017-2019: KI’s reduction list
As part of KI’s general environmental, sustainability and work-environment efforts, a list of eleven chemicals has been compiled for KI:s laboratories to consult when prioritizing which chemicals to reduce, until 2019.
- Triton X-100
- Blue gel
- Boric acid
- Dimetylformamide (DMF)
- Hydrazine compound
- Cobolt cloride
- Nickel cloride
- Ethidium bromide
Products containing one or more of these substances are listed on the "KI reduction list" in the KLARA product database. These eleven substances are selected on the basis that they are CMR classified and / or environmentally hazardous and they are used in large quantities at Karolinska Institutet.
The chemical goal for 2017 - 2019 is now formally completed. The final report can be found here (only in Swedish).
Information about KI’s reduction list in KLARA will remain so that KI’s laboratories will continue to replace or reduce these substances even after the chemical goal 2017 -2019 has been completed.
National substitution group (NSG)
Karolinska Institutet is active in NSG, which is a national network with the aim of jointly helping to exchange hazardous chemicals in health care (including dental care) and research. By exchanging experience on completed substitutions, each company's substitution work can be facilitated.
NSG has produced a Substitution list for hazardous chemicals with some examples that everyone can use. More information here.
If you have made substitutions yourself, it is important to notify NSG via email@example.com.
Chemicals subject to authorization
There are chemicals that may not be handled and there are chemicals that require a permission or a dispensation to be handled. It is the responsible manager/head of department who is responsible for permits and that they are valid. Permits are applied for by the individual research group by contacting the responsible coordinator at the Safety and security unit via firstname.lastname@example.org.
The coordinator will help you with which forms to fill in, to send the completed forms to the responsible authority and to record necessary documents in the KI register. Chemicals may only be used as described in the corresponding permit.
It is not allowed to lend or hand over chemicals that are subject to authorization. The permit states which rules apply regarding handling, for example how the chemical should be used, stored and in which premises it may be used. Different licensing authorities have different requirements, but common requirements are risk assessment, handling instructions and a emergency procedures in place.
Permits are time-limited and it is important that there is a procedure within the department to keep track of when it is time to renew a permit. In KLARA there is a function called Permit which is a helpful tool for this (can be found under Additional functions at the registry for each research group).
If substances subject to authorization are handled without a permit/dispensation, the department, in some cases, risks a fine of several hundred thousand SEK. Substances requiring authorization are:
- Mercury and mercury compounds (Swedish Chemicals Agency)
- Group A substances (Swedish Work Environment Authority)
- Group B substances (Swedish Work Environment Authority)
- Goods dangerous to health (Public Health Agency of Sweden)
- Narcotic precursors (Swedish Medical Products Agency)
In KLARA there are reference lists to be used for self-monitoring of the above regulated substances (the one for narcotic precursors is called Medical Products Agency Category 1). Further rules regarding handling of narcotic precursors can be found on the web page Narcotic drugs and narcotic drug precursors.
An updated list of substances covered by the requirements for permit concerning goods dangerous to health can be found in the annex to SFS 1999:58 (regulation on the prohibition of certain goods dangerous to health, in Swedish), see link further down the page under Links.
It is not only pure substances that require a permit. Also, chemical products or kits containing small quantities of an authorized chemical, can be subject to a permit. Products containing 0.1% by weight or more of a Group A substance require authorization and for Group B substances the limit is 1% by weight.
Substances listed in Annex XIV to the REACH Regulation do not require permits for use in scientific research and development. This includes use in analysis activities, provided that the substance is used under controlled conditions and not in quantities larger than 1 ton per year. Substances that are particularly hazardous and which, according to proposals, may end up in Annex XIV are on the so-called candidate list.
Ozone-depleting substances - restrictions on use and purchase
Ozone depleting substances (ODS) are chemicals that destroy the earth’s protective ozone layer. Therefore, it is very important to minimize the use of ODS as soon as there are adequate alternatives. If necessary, these substances can be used in so-called “essential" laboratory or analytical uses.
However, such use requires an approved registration in the EU common LabODS registry. Use is considered essential if there is no technically and / or economically feasible alternative or where the alternative is less acceptable for the environment and health. Normally, you do not need to use ODS because in most cases there are less harmful alternatives. Some uses are prohibited and will not be approved at registration.
To purchase ODS, an ID number is required. You will get this ID number when the registration in the LabODS database is approved. Every single use, the department and responsible researcher need to be registered. Some examples of substances that must not be used without approved registration are carbon tetrachloride (tetrachloromethane) and 1,1,1-trichloroethane (methyl chloroform).
If you have questions or need an ID number to order an ODS, please contact email@example.com.
Storage of chemicals
Chemical products should be stored in a safe manner to avoid accident, health risks, and release to the environment. The head of department or equivalent is utmost responsible for chemical products being stored in a proper manner. Storage conditions should be based on the properties of the chemical products and guidance is often given in the product’s SDS.
General storage conditions are:
- All areas in which chemicals are stored shall be clearly marked so that it is clear that the space is intended for chemical products.
- Chemical products should be stored in ventilated cabinets or storages.
- Chemical products shall not be stored so that there is a risk that they accidentally end up in the sewage (e.g. in a fume hood without embankment, on shelves above a sink)
- Acids shall be stored in acid-resistant and ventilated cabinets - and never together with bases or organic substances.
- Corrosive chemicals (acids and bases) should be stored below waist height.
- Oxidizing agents should not be stored with oxidizable substances.
- Flammable products and volatile products must be stored in fireproof and ventilated cabinets.
- Flammable products should not be stored with easily combustible substances / materials or with gases
- For flammable products that require cool storage, use refrigerators / freezers intended for this purpose (not the usual household fridges / freezers)
- Gas cylinders should be stored well anchored with a chain or similar.
- Flammable gas must be stored fire-proof.
- Peroxide-forming chemicals should be stored in a dark and cool place. A special handling routine is required.
- Chemical products that are serious health hazards / acute toxics (poisons and CMR substances) must be stored in locked poison boxes.
- A- and B-classified chemical products shall be stored according to the unique permit conditions.
Look at the product's label, i.e. which hazard pictograms (CLP) are on the package for guidance on how to store it. To find more information about the chemical properties of the product, you can read the product's safety data sheet (SDS) under e.g. section 7 "Handling and Storage" and section 10 "Stability and Reactivity".
Liquid nitrogen is a colorless, odorless and tasteless liquid. The gas is non-toxic and does not burn, but there is a risk of the oxygen in the air being displaced - which can cause oxygen deficiency. Liquid nitrogen can give cold-burns because of the low boiling point of -196 °C.
Work involving liquid nitrogen may only be carried out by those who have adequate knowledge of the chemical and the potential risks that handling and use entail, together with how these risks can be avoided. The nearest manager should ensure that:
- a written risk assessment is carried out before work involving liquid nitrogen begins
- adequate protective measures have been taken
- local handling and protection instructions have been developed
The nearest manager should also ensure that employees who handle liquid nitrogen are aware of the risks and have been informed about local handling and safety instructions. More information see KI:s Rules for handling liquid nitrogen under Documents.
Dry ice is solid carbon dioxide which changes directly from solid into gas at a temperature of -78 °C and higher.
Approximately 530 liters of carbon dioxide gas are formed from one kilogram of dry ice during evaporation. The container for dry ice should therefore never be completely closed to prevent excessive pressure build-up.
The main hazards of dry ice include severe frost bite due to the temperature of -78°C and suffocation due to excessive concentration of carbon dioxide during evaporation, as it displaces the oxygen.
The rate of evaporation depends on the quantity of dry ice, its packing, and storage.
Some examples of the evaporation rate (Linde AG):
• 1 kg at room temperature on a table, 6–8 hours
• 10 kg at room temperature in a Styrofoam box, 1–2 days
• 20 kg at room temperature in a Styrofoam box, 3–4 days
• 20 kg in a freezer in a Styrofoam box, 4–5 days.
Dry ice is manufactured in the form of pellets with a size of 10 mm in diameter and a length of approximately 20 mm or as 1 kg dry ice blocks (125x27x210mm).
The best storage container for dry ice is a Styrofoam box or cooler bag. KI advises against the use of thermos containers due to incidents where thermoses have imploded.
Formaldehyde is classified as H350 (may cause cancer), and therefore subject to "Special requirements for carcinogenic, mutagenic and toxic to reproduction chemicals and certain activities" (38 § - 44 §) in AFS 2011: 19.
One requirement is that a documented investigation must be conducted to find out if it is possible to use a less harmful product instead.
Formaldehyde is also classified as H317 (may cause an allergic skin reaction) and is therefore covered by "Special requirements for allergenic chemicals and some processes" (37 a § - 37 g §) in AFS 2011: 19, e.g. requirements regarding risk assessment, signs and information.
Before handling of formaldehyde starts it is important to follow handling instructions and to conduct risk assessments. The result of the risk assessment should show that there is no risk of dangerous exposure in the handling. Examples of actions to take to limit the exposure is to work in specially adapted laboratories, to handle formaldehyde in a ventilated workplace (fume hood) and to use the right kind of laboratory gloves (standards and materials are often specified in the product’s safety data sheets).
All staff at the workplace must be informed that formaldehyde is handled in the premises and how to protect against dangerous exposure.
If there are pregnant and nursing employees in the workplace it is crucial to perform a special risk assessment which takes this into account.
Formaldehyde handling during the fixation of tissues and similar does not require any training (training requirements, § 37e in AFS 2011:19).
Ethidium bromide is a substance used in electrophoresis for DNA analysis. It binds to DNA and illuminates under UV light and allows for the DNA in a sample to be detected.
The ability to bind to DNA means that it can be hazardous to persons handling the substance, as it also binds to DNA in the human body and may cause heritable genetic damage (mutagenicity class 1 or 2).
Ethidium bromide should as far as possible be phased out.
The content of ethidium bromide in the gels and solutions that are used are considered to be so low that the composite products are not classified as mutagenic according to the requirements of the Swedish authorities. Despite this, you should deal gently with ethidium bromide as the level of exposure not only depends on the amount and concentration, but also on how often you use the chemical and the procedures that exist in the workplace.
Laboratory and service personnel may be exposed to many different substances and the additive effect of multiple exposures is almost always unknown, which should be respected.
Ethidium bromide may be absorbed through the skin and nitrile gloves are considered to be a good protection against ethidium bromide.
See also Alternative to Ethidium Bromide under Documents.
Cytostatic drugs belong to the group of "Especially dangerous drugs" and the use of cytostatic drugs is regulated by the Swedish Working Environment Authority in “AFS 2005:5”. Long-term or occasionally extremely high, exposure may pose an increased risk of genetic damage and cancer.
For pregnant persons the unborn child may be affected, as well as children during lactation period.
Cytostatic drugs are a group of substances with different properties and character acting with different mechanisms. Consequently, the degree of harmful exposure is very diverse, as are the symptoms.
When working with cytostatic drugs it is important to limit exposure by:
- Conduct written risk assessments before work with cytostatic drugs starts.
- Written handling, safety and disposal instructions appropriate for local prerequisites.
- Ensuring that the person doing the work with cytostatic drugs has the right skills (responsible is the manager / head of department).
- Provide training and courses (by the manager / head of department).
- Inform other local staff (for example cleaning personnel) about the nature of the activity and how to protect themselves.
Exposure and action
Contact with skin usually gives local irritations and allergic reactions and some drugs can also be absorbed through the skin and affect whole organ system. In the long term, exposure to cytostatic drugs can cause cancer.
Any deviations, incidents and accidents associated with cytostatic drugs should immediately be reported in writing to the responsible manager.
Peroxide forming chemicals
To avoid the risk of explosion, it is important to have a procedure for handling, storage and control of peroxide-forming chemicals. These are chemicals that are classified with hazard statement EUH019.
Examples of such chemicals that are common at KI are:
Diethyl ether CAS: 60-29-7
1,2-Dimethoxyethane CAS: 110-71-4
1,4-Dioxane CAS: 123-91-1
Tetrahydrofuran CAS: 109-99-9
KI's Instructions for handling chemicals that can form explosive peroxides in their entirety can be found under Documents.
Peroxide forming chemicals may over time form explosive peroxides, and they are in most cases flammable and explosive. At high levels of peroxides, it may be enough to shock or heat the container to ignite an explosion - and the higher the concentration of peroxides, the greater the risk of explosion.
Parameters that have an impact on peroxide formation are:
- Whether the bottle is opened (oxygen accelerates the process).
- How old the chemical is and how long it has been opened.
- If it is exposed to sunlight and/or heat (accelerates the formation of peroxides).
- If the product is distilled (stabilizers are "purified" off).
- Buy smaller amounts (1 l) at a time.
- Always label the product with the delivery date and the date when the seal has been broken.
- Opened products should not be stored more than one year.
- Keep the chemical in a dark and cool place.
- Make regular checks of the peroxide content (see section Peroxide test).
Note: Tests may only be carried out by a chemist with experience of working with peroxides!
It is recommended to use strips for peroxide tests, e.g., Sigma-Aldrich part number 1.10081 (0.5-100 mg/L H2O2, MQuant; Supelco).
Chemicals with a peroxide content ≥3mg/l are not allowed to use; they must be discarded!
Disposal and waste management
(Note! The guidance below applies even if it deviates to some extent from current instructions. The instructions will be updated as soon as possible.)
You should not personally handle solutions with a peroxide content ≥3mg/l.
For lower peroxide concentration (<30 mg/L):
- Contact Stena for collection directly from the storage location.
For old peroxide-containing chemicals:
- When the contents have evaporated and there is no liquid remaining, except precipitation or crystals.
- When the liquid is turbid (cloudy) or discoloured and/or there is precipitation or crystals on the bottom of the container.
- When you cannot see through the container, and you know that it has been stored unsuitably (warm) or for a long period (more than 1 year).
- When you do not know how old the container is or how it has been stored.
- When you have detected a high peroxide concentration, ≥30 mg/L.
- Contact the Safety advisor for consultation and the safety unit (firstname.lastname@example.org) for information.
Note: If a solution is turbid, discoloured or when the contents have evaporated and show signs of precipitation/crystal formation, the container should not be touched/moved. Even in cases of major peroxide formation, the chemical is not dangerous unless disturbed.
Contact information can be found on KI’s Staff Portal under Laboratory waste and Contact.
The handling of chemical products must always be preceded by a written risk assessment, which must indicate what possible protective measures must be taken to limit exposure / risks in handling. Examples of protective measures are gloves for personal protection, safety ventilation and safety goggles.
Precautionary measures are described in the chemicals Safety Data Sheet (SDS). Chemical products SDS’s must always be available for all concerned and close to the workplace where the chemicals are handled (in KLARA).
As a standard, laboratory coats should be used in the laboratory and should be removed when leaving the lab. The coat should not be made of flammable synthetic material, it should preferably have push buttons (so that it can easily be taken off in the event of fire or spillage) and have cushions. It should be washed as often as required and the laundry should be done by the employer (the coat should not be washed at home).
Safety goggles should always be used when handling corrosive chemicals, e.g. acids, bases and other substances that can damage the eyes. Lenses should preferably not be used in labs as they can burn on the eye lens and lead to blindness in the event that corrosive substances get into the eye.
Protective gloves for working with chemicals
Protective gloves protect the skin from local damage, e.g. irritation, corrosion and poisoning, which can occur as a result of chemicals being absorbed through the skin. The type of glove that protects you depends on the properties of the chemicals and how the handling should go. Information on which glove material is suitable can be found in the safety data sheet and which type e.g. the thickness is available from the supplier.
More detailed information on protective gloves can be found here.
Protected ventilated workplaces
Safety ventilation (fume hood, suction table, safety cabinet and spot extractor) is a common protective measure when handling hazardous chemical products. In order to avoid turbulence, it is important to think about the location of the protective ventilation and to think about how to work, since movement creates turbulence. Turbulence leads to dangerous vapors / gases swirling around, which can cause a risk of hazardous exposure.
Therefore, ventilated workplaces should not be placed near passages, nor near doors that are opened and closed. It is recommended to place ventilated equipment furthest away from the door, preferably in a corner. Passage past the ventilated workplace must be slow and calm.
It is not recommended to combine spot extraction with suction table, their flows can counteract each other, and the result is that you work unprotected. It is recommended to work in fume hoods if possible as it is the best protection against volatile vapors and gases.
If a suction table is used, it is important to work near the bench (max. 10 cm above the surface) and that the smallest possible part of the suction table surface is covered. It is very important to move hands and body slowly so that gases do not swirl. Spot extraction is placed near the source for best protection.
When handling particularly hazardous chemicals, e.g. CMR and allergenic chemical products, always use protective ventilation. When dealing with substances with unknown properties / risks, the precautionary principle applies, which means that the substance / product should be considered dangerous.
When handling cytostatic drugs, it is important to ensure that there is no risk of hazardous exposure. Therefore, handling should take place under controlled forms, preferably in closed systems and in specially designated premises. If the work is carried out in a safety cabinet, the cabinet must be connected to external ventilation (i.e. exhaust air connected).
Spill of chemicals
In case of hazardous chemicals spills, it is important to take action quickly so that personnel are not harmed:
- In the event of major spills, KI's central emergency procedure for larger spills and emissions of hazardous chemicals should be followed. If necessary, consult a specialist for advice (see under Documents).
- Evacuate, cordon the area and inform colleagues that a spill has occurred.
- Consult local emergency routine (for lab, house). Read the risk assessment and safety data sheet for the current chemical / method to find out more about the chemical properties.
- Clean it yourself if possible (with spill kit), always use protective equipment.
Never let the cleaning staff clean up! They do not have the skills needed. An incident must be reported in the Incident Management System as well as to the nearest manager.
NOTE! Departments located at the hospital shall apply the corresponding rules of the hospital.
Document Instructons and other documents
More information for logged in staff
There is more information for those of you working in the following groups
- C5.Department of Cell and Molecular Biology
- H1.Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society
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- H7.Department of Medicine, Huddinge
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- K8.Department of Clinical Neuroscience
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