Minor Spills of Hazardous Materials

Spills defined

Minor Spills

Radiation Spills

Biological (BSL 1&2) Spills

BSL 3 Laboratories

Spill Definitions

A minor spill is defined as an event that can be handled safely without the assistance of EHSO or emergency response personnel.


A major spill is defined as an event that cannot be handled safely without the assistance of EHSO or emergency response personnel, including all events where a person is injured or contaminated.

  • If someone is injured, call 404.727.6111 (or 7.6111 from a campus phone).
  • Call EHSO Spill Team at 404.727.2888 - 24 hour response line.
  • All other times call the Emory Police Department at 404.727.6111 (or 7.6111 from a campus phone).

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Minor Spills

  • Alert others in the immediate area.
  • Leave the immediate area without contaminating other individuals and environments.
  • If clothing is contaminated, remove, folding contamination inward, and treat as waste.
  • Refer to Safety Data Sheets (SDS) and appropriate cleanup guides for chemical spills.
  • Wear Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) appropriate for the material spilled (e.g., safety goggles, gloves, lab coat, etc.).
  • Confine the spill to a limited area. Barricade and isolate the area to prevent spread of contamination.
  • Pick up broken glass with tongs, forceps, or dustpan. Place in a puncture-resistant container.
  • Be aware of inhalation hazards.  Use appropriate neutralizer, disinfectant, and absorbents to mitigate the spill.
  • Place spill cleanup materials in a container. Call EHSO for disposal at 404.727.5922.
  • Wash arms, hands, and face with soap and water.

For assistance and advice call Environmental Health and Safety Office (EHSO) at 404.727.5922.

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Additional Spill Specific Advice

Radiation Spills Minor

  • Monitor the area for contamination.
  • Decontaminate area with paper towels wetted with soapy water.
  • Repeat cleanup until contamination is no longer detected.
  • Monitor hands, shoes, and person for contamination.
  • Report results in your survey log.

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Biological (BSL 1&2) Spills Minor

  • Allow time for aerosols to settle.
  • Wash potentially contaminated body parts with germicidal soap. Shower if necessary.
  • Encircle with appropriate disinfectant (e.g., 10 percent bleach solution made fresh) in such a manner to minimize splashing. Allow the disinfectant a minimumof twenty minutes of contact time.
  • Dispose of spill cleanup materials in biohazard waste.
  • Decontaminate the affected area with disinfectant-soaked spill pillow or wipes.
  • Wipe down outside of bags, containers, and equipment involved with disinfectant.
  • Ensure that biohazard labels are attached to bags, containers, and equipment involved.

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BSL 3 Laboratories

  • Spills within BSL 3 facilities must follow internal posted Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). SOPs are the responsibility of the primary scientist.

Download the Minor Hazardous Materials card (PDF 40.4KB)