SOU Chemistry Laboratory Guidelines for Pregnant and Breastfeeding Students
While it is always important for students, staff, and faculty to follow proper laboratory, chemical hygiene, and biological safety procedures in any lab environment, it is especially important for pregnant or breastfeeding individuals. Certain chemicals are known to negatively affect adult reproductive health and cause congenital abnormalities. In addition, many substances are more harmful in the early stages of pregnancy, when a woman may not be aware that she is pregnant.
Special Precautions: Not all solvents are hazardous to one’s health, but many solvents containing carbon (called organic solvents) or chlorine (called chlorinated solvents) have been linked to increased reproductive risk. Many of these solvents have been detected in breast milk. We strongly discourage pregnant and breastfeeding women from participating in lab exercises that incorporate organic solvents, lead, mercury, halogens, or radioactive substances.
Before entering any laboratory, pregnant or breastfeeding students should contact their lab instructor or research advisor to review and discuss potential hazards. Alternatively, students may request Disability Resources to serve as a liaison between themselves and their instructor/advisor. Students may contact the Office of Disability Resources at 541-552-6213 or schedule an appointment at https://disability_resources_sou.youcanbook.me/. For certain lab exercises, the lab activity or conditions may need to be modified to ensure the safety of all students. Therefore, providing advance notice, when possible, will help facilitate any necessary accommodations. This may include working in a separate lab, substituting hazardous reagents with less harmful ones, working with a lab partner and participating in the exercise remotely, or using a virtual lab.
Before a pregnant or breastfeeding student enters the lab, the following steps need to be completed:
- Students may provide recommendations by their health care provider for review by their instructor, advisor, and/or Disability Resources representative
- The student will purchase and wear properly fitted PPE
- If needed, the student will be provided a respirator
- The student will read the SOU Chemical Hygiene Plan
- The student will read and sign the SOU Chemistry Lab Student Safety contract
- The student, instructor, and safety personnel will work together to evaluate the safety of all chemicals used in each laboratory exercise and will consult the Safety Data Sheets (SDS) for hazard information
- The student will use a fume hood whenever possible
- The student will wash their hands before leaving the lab even when gloves were worn
SOU Chemistry Lab Student Safety: Laboratory Safety Guidelines
Additional information can be found on the CDC website at https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/repro/pregnancy.html.
Laboratory Safety Guidelines (Approved September 16, 2021)
- NEVER work alone in the laboratory.
- NEVER perform unauthorized experiments.
- Do NOT come to lab impaired or under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Come to lab alert, focused, and prepared to work.
- Store backpacks and personal belongings only in designated locations, away from work areas.
- NO fooling around, NO horseplay, NO tricks.
- NO earbuds or headphones.
- Phones may be used as a calculator or to take photos only. NO texting or phone calls while in the lab.
- Pets and emotional support animals are NOT allowed into the laboratories.
- Safety goggles MUST be worn in the laboratory at ALL TIMES to protect your eyes against accidental impact or splashes.
- You MUST wear a knee-length closed lab coat, ankle-length pants and/or skirt, shoes that cover the ENTIRE foot, and a shirt that covers at minimum your torso and upper arms. Minimize exposed skin.
- NO baggy clothing or loose fitting scarves. NO dangling jewelry.
- Tie back long and loose hair.
Food and drinks
- Keep food and drinks outside of the laboratory.
- NO eating, drinking, smoking, chewing gum, or applying cosmetics in the lab. Do not intentionally put anything into your mouth or onto your skin while in the lab.
- Keep hands, writing instruments, and lab materials away from your face and mouth.
- Know the locations of fire extinguishers, first aid kits, and fire alarms.
- Know the proper usage of emergency showers and emergency eyewashes.
- If chemicals should splash into your eyes or on your skin, immediately rinse thoroughly with water for at least 15 minutes and make sure the instructor is notified. Do not hesitate to use the emergency shower or eyewash. That's why they are there! If another individual needs help using the eyewash station or emergency shower, please assist them or get help from someone who can.
- Report any spills immediately to the instructor. Your instructor may need to use a special chemical spill kit.
- When you hear a fire alarm: Close your hood, turn off the gas, turn off all heat and flame sources, and move quickly to the nearest exit. Gather in the grassy area in front of the Science building.
- For emergencies, call 911 (9911 from a campus phone) once you are in a safe location.
Handling Chemicals and Equipment
- NEVER directly sniff a chemical. If you are instructed to smell something, do so by fanning some of the vapor toward your nose.
- NEVER taste laboratory materials.
- NEVER pipette by mouth. Instead, use a pipette filler or pump.
- Use the hood when flammable or noxious gases are present or liberated.
- When transferring lab chemicals from a shared container to your own container, do NOT return any excess material to its original container unless specifically instructed, as you may contaminate the shared container contents.
- Dispose of chemicals properly as directed. Do NOT put them down the drain.
- Use steam baths, hot plates, or heating mantles instead of open flames whenever possible. Before lighting a match, be sure to obtain permission from the instructor and ensure that there are no open solvent containers or solvent vapors in your area. Act at once to extinguish any accidental fires if it is safe to do so.
- NEVER heat an apparatus that is part of a closed system.
- ALWAYS wash your hands with soap BEFORE leaving the laboratory.
Laboratory Safety Best Practices
- Read the procedure ahead of time. Note any safety requirements for the lab in your prelab notes.
- Keep your lab station clean and free from clutter.
- Stay on task and maintain professionalism.
- Do not use any distracting electronic devices in the lab.
- Contact lenses are not recommended. Chemicals can become trapped between the contact lens. Safety goggles can be worn over prescription glasses. If you do wear contact lenses, please notify your instructor.
- Closed-toe/Closed-heel shoes only; feet must be completely covered. No skin should be showing between the top of the shoe and the bottom of the pants or skirt. Athletic shoes & fitted boots are acceptable. No Toms or ballet type shoes. Leather footwear provides greater protection because it does not absorb spills and is easier to clean. Do not wear boots with wide openings at the top, they can create a reservoir for spills to collect against your skin. The shoes you wear should offer stability for standing and walking.
- Lab coat should have:
- Snap fasteners rather than buttons so that it can be readily removed in case of spillage or contamination
- An upper snap fastener at the neck to provide most effective protection
- Fitted wrist cuffs to reduce the potential for splashes up the arm and to prevent fire hazards
- Lab coats made of polyester-cotton blends are acceptable in labs where no open flames are present. Lab coats should be made of 100% cotton or flame resistant material in labs where open flames are used.
- Your clothing should be made of natural fibers, such as cotton. Cotton is hypoallergenic, breathable, and does not cause static electricity. Synthetic fabrics melt, shrink and stick to the skin.
- Bulky and loose-fitting clothing may knock over laboratory items, be dragged through chemical spills, or present a fire hazard around open flames.
- Long hair can easily become entangled in equipment, can be exposed to chemicals, or can catch on fire by direct exposure to a flame source.
- Tights and leggings should be avoided since they offer no barrier between you and the chemicals with which you are working, and chemicals can easily wick through the fabric to the skin.
- Wearing jewelry in the laboratory should be avoided. Jewelry can be damaged by chemical gases, vapors, and spills. Chemical seepage between the jewelry and the skin can put corrosives in intimate contact with your skin and trap the chemicals there. Jewelry also can catch on equipment, causing injuries.
- The only exposed skin should be from the neck up and from the wrist down.
Food and drinks
- All chemicals have the potential to be poisonous. Food, beverages, and personal products can absorb chemicals. To avoid accidental ingestion, do not apply makeup, chapstick, or lotion to your face or hands during lab. Do not consume food or beverages that have been exposed to chemicals or that have been in the lab.
Handling Chemicals and Equipment
- All chemicals should be considered dangerous. To avoid unintentionally spreading chemicals, remove your gloves & wash your hands before leaving the work area and before handling such things as cell phones, calculators, laptops, doorknobs, writing instruments, laboratory notebooks, and textbooks.
- The hood sash should never be raised above the green “operation” level when you are working in the hood. The sash serves as a physical barrier between you and the contents of the fume hood should a spill, splash, explosion or fire occur. Never allow your head to enter the plane of the hood opening. Keep all materials inside the hood at least six inches from the sash opening. Breathing in harmful chemicals can cause toxins to lodge in your lungs or enter the bloodstream. When not working in the hood, close the sash.
- If a fire is ignited in your area, the proper STUDENT response is to: 1) Notify everyone in the room by announcing there is a fire 2) Close the hood and turn off the gas 3) Proceed to the nearest exit and pull the nearest fire alarm 4) Evacuate the building using the nearest stairwell 5) Assemble in front of the Science Building. 6) Call 911.
- In the event of an emergency, the entrance to each stairwell serves as a disability evacuation point. Wait for emergency personnel there if you are unable to evacuate using the stairs. Do NOT use the elevator.