Chemical Safety Information

Many chemicals used in research at the University of Florida pose a wide range of health and physical hazards. Before using any chemical, it is important to understand what the hazards may be and how to work with it safely. This section provides information and guidance for the use and storage of chemicals for laboratories.

The following is a general guideline on how chemicals should be stored in a laboratory setting. Always consult the Safety Data Sheet to identify incompatible materials and determine proper storage requirements.

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  1. Do not store liquid chemicals above shoulder height.
  2. Flammable chemicals in amounts exceeding 10 gallons must be stored in flammable storage cabinets or safety containers.
  3. Bottles may not be stored on the floor unless they are contained in tubs or other secondary containment.
  4. Excessive chemical storage in fume hoods is not acceptable; this practice interferes with the airflow in the hood and reduces the available workspace.
  5. Chemical waste shall be placed at the designated accumulation area, in appropriate receptacles, properly labeled and segregated by hazard class.

Additional consideration must be taken for the storage of acids. Below is the suggested organization of laboratory acids in high walled secondary containers (bins). Bins must be chemically compatible with the acids kept in them. Bins may be kept in the same acid cabinet but separate cabinets for organic and inorganic acids are required.

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Compressed gas cylinders are found in many of the laboratories and shops throughout the University. Their storage and use pose a serious potential hazard for all employees and students who may be in the vicinity of or who may handle gas cylinders. EH&S provides guidance for the use, transportation and storage of compressed gas cylinders.

  1. Click here to access UF’s Compressed Gas Cylinders Rules.
  2. This link contains a condensed version of these rules suitable for printing and posting near gas cylinders.

Many organic solvents can form shock-sensitive, explosive peroxide crystals under normal storage conditions. These peroxide crystals may form on the container plug or the threads of the lid and detonate when the lid is twisted. Detailed guidance on how to handle peroxide-forming chemicals can be found by following this link. Always remember that:

  • Containers must be dated when received and dated again when opened. EH&S provides stickers if needed.
  • Containers must be disposed of 12 months after receiving or 6 months after opening, whichever happens first.
  • If there are any crystals (especially near the neck or cap threads), liquid separation, or discoloration, contact EHS for hazardous waste removal. Do not move or attempt to open the container.

The following are classified as peroxide forming chemicals. For a complete list, please click this link.

Acetaldehyde diethyl acetal


Tetrafluoroethylene (TFE)


Divinylacetylene (DVA)

Tetrahydrofuran (THF)


Ethylene glycol dimethyl ether

Tetralin (tetrahydronaphthalene)


Ethylene glycol ether acetates

Vinyl acetate


Ethylene glycol monoether

Vinyl chloride

Decalin (decahydronaphthalene)


Vinyl ethers

Diacetylene (butadiene)

Methyl isobutyl ketone

Vinylacetylene (MVA)



Vinylidene chloride

Diethyl ether



Diethylene glycol dimethyl ether

Potassium amide (sodamide)


Diisopropyl ether



Hydrofluoric acid (HF) differs from other acids because it readily penetrates the skin causing destruction of deep tissue layers, including bone. Skin exposure to concentrated HF (48% or greater) can be fatal if the exposure covers over 2% of the body (approximately 8 square inches). HF will also react with glass, glazes, enamels, pottery, concrete, rubber, leather, many metals and organic compounds. For this reason, HF must be kept in compatible plastic (polyethylene or Teflon) containers. Labs that carry HF must ensure that non-expired calcium gluconate antidote is always on hand. Conduct work in a fume hood with a sign identifying “Hydrofluoric acid is used in this area.” Personal protection equipment must include lab coat, acid resistant apron, safety goggles and chemically compatible gloves (thick neoprene, butyl or pvc). For more information, please refer to the Hydrofluoric Acid Fact Sheet.


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There are many gloves that are made for specific uses and no one glove protects against all hazards. Chemical resistance varies by glove material and manufacturer. Glove suppliers routinely provide compatibility or chemical resistance charts. Thin, disposable, nitrile gloves are the most common gloves used in laboratories; however, it is important to remember that not all nitrile gloves provide the same level of protection. Disposable nitrile gloves are not designed for applications involving prolonged, direct exposure to chemicals and should not be reused. The intent in providing chemical compatibility information is to provide a guideline for use in applications where incidental splash exposure to chemicals may occur.

Click to open the Glove Selection Guidelines Resource

Rules for glove use in the lab:

  • Only select gloves from a supplier that provides chemical resistance guidelines. Consult the supplier-specific information for compatibility.
  • Do not use gloves that specify incompatibility with harsh chemicals on the box or packaging. Labs may carry these gloves for lower hazard activities that do not involve heavy or harsh chemical use, however, additional suitable chemical resistant gloves must be available if the lab maintains harsh chemicals in inventory.
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  • Gloves must be removed, followed by hand washing, and replaced immediately if incidental splash exposure occurs. Disposable gloves are not suitable for handling aggressive or highly hazardous chemicals and are intended to provide a barrier for incidental splashes only.
  • Wear gloves no longer than 2 hours if chemical contact has not occurred.
  • Disposable gloves must be discarded once removed. Do not save for future use.
  • Dispose of gloves into the proper container (biologically contaminated gloves will need to go into a red bag); while other chemically contaminated gloves may not.
  • Non-disposable/reusable gloves must be washed and dried, as needed, and then inspected for tears and holes prior to reuse.
  • Specialty applications such as (but not limited to) working with HF, submerging hands in solvents or corrosives, and working with acute toxins that readily penetrate the skin (e.g. methylmercury) must require specialty gloves compatible with the chemical or activity.
  • Remove gloves before touching personal items such as phones, computers and pens. Remember the “designated area rule” where “science” does not mix with personal space (one’s desk or lunch space). Gloves used in research are considered “science”.
  • Do not wear gloves out of the lab. If gloves are needed to transport anything, wear one glove to handle the transported item. The free hand is then used to touch doorknobs, elevator buttons, etc.
  • If for any reason a glove fails, and chemicals come into contact with skin, consider it an exposure and seek medical attention.

The following are links to companies that provide chemical resistance information. It is important to note that two similar gloves supplied by two separate manufacturers may not provide the same level of protection to a specific chemical. Therefore, it is necessary to consult the manufacturer’s specific compatibility chart for the brand of gloves being used. This is not an exhaustive list of available gloves.



Compatibility Information






Kimberly Clark



MAPA Professional

Protective Industrial Products (PIP)



In an effort to correctly manage all types of solid waste generated in laboratories while minimizing the amount of Hazardous Waste created, the University of Florida has adopted the Clean Lab Ware Policy for items not contaminated with hazardous chemicals, radiological materials or biohazardous materials. Please refer to the policy by clicking on this link. Empty chemical bottles may be rinsed 3 times and disposed of as clean lab ware. The rinsate must be disposed of as hazardous waste.