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Hazardous Chemical Management

EHS Contact Info

If you have any questions about chemicals on-campus, please contact the Environmental Health and Safety Officer (Kevin Riordan) at:

  • Extension 2841 (on-campus)
  • 585-389-2841 (off campus/Cell phone)
  • Call Campus Safety (585-389-2850) with any emergency situation.

Looking for information about chemicals?

Nazareth College has created a unique chemical database that can provide you with information about most chemicals used on campus. Using this tool you are able to:

  • Search for information about chemicals (common name, chemical name, or any partial name)
  • Get basic information about a chemical's hazards
  • Learn what precautions are needed before using the chemical
  • Download the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS)

Chemicals are everywhere! It is amazing how many chemicals we use on a daily basis. Chemicals are not limited to items used in Chemistry class, but rather almost every item is included. Routine items such as hair spray, make-up, air fresheners, cleaners and even many food additives are based on chemicals.

While most of the chemicals we use are safe, there can be severe reactions if they are misused. The potential effects include: immediate or delayed illness, chronic disease (especially cancer), organ failure, and even death. Chemicals must be treated with knowledge and respect. This page is designed to be used as a reference in providing basic information about chemicals and especially how they are handled here at Nazareth College.

Nazareth College makes protecting the health of all students, staff, faculty, and visitors the highest priority. On campus there are many different policies and limitation concerning chemicals. These policies are a combination of Federal regulations, New York State laws, and industry best practices. It is imperative that everyone adheres to these policies for the protection of all.

For more information about chemicals, please use Nazareth College's ChemTracker. This site provides basic information about each chemical as well as its Material Safety Data Sheet.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I worry about chemicals?

Many people don't think about the number of chemicals used in their daily routine. You may be surprised how hazardous many of these chemicals can be if misused or used in high quantities. Nazareth College has implemented a number of policies based on different government regulations and examples set by the best institutions. These regulations and policies are for the safety and protection of all students, faculty, staff and visitors.

What kind of products may be considered hazardous?

While we use these chemicals everyday, the majority of them can be harmful if used improperly. Chemicals can be used safely and effectively when we have a basic knowledge about the chemical, understand the potential hazards, and take the proper precautions. Some examples of common materials that can be hazardous include:

  • Paints and stains: Highly flammable
  • Solvents/Thinners: Flammable and potentially toxic
  • Cleaners: Highly toxic and potentially corrosive
  • Batteries: Highly corrosive internal fluids
  • Adhesives: Potentially toxic and irritating vapors

What is the "Right to Know Law"?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) hazard communication standard (a.k.a. the "Right To Know Law") states that employees and students have the right to know about the hazards of chemicals used on campus. Nazareth College has a hazard communication program that complies with all OSHA requirements and assists employees in understanding and protecting themselves from chemical hazards. For a copy of this policy, please contact the Environmental Health Officer (, Ext 2841)

What are the physical hazardous of chemicals?

Many chemicals have the potential to cause physical injury to humans. Examples of chemicals that pose a physical hazard are:

  • Flammable and combustible liquids, such as gasoline
  • Compressed gases, such as nitrogen, hydrogen, carbon dioxide
  • Explosives
  • Oxidizers, such as oxygen
  • Unstable or reactive substances

What are the health hazards of chemicals?

A hazardous substance is any material that has the capacity to produce personal injury or illness through exposure to any body surface (internal or external). Many chemicals have the potential to cause health problems that are acute (short term) or chronic (long term) in humans if improperly managed or handled. Some ways that chemicals can pose a health hazard are:

  • Carcinogens (cancer causing agents), such as benzene and formaldehyde
  • Toxins, such as pesticides and arsenic
  • Irritants, such as bleaches and ammonia
  • Corrosives (acids and bases), such as battery acid or caustic sodas
  • Organ specific agents, such as sulfuric acid and asbestos

How can I be exposed to chemicals?

Chemicals that pose a health hazard will only affect individuals if the chemical gets into or onto their body. By eliminating the exposure to chemicals you eliminate the route of entry and thus any associated physical or health effect. There are three main routes of entry:

  • Absorption - contact with your bare skin
  • Ingestion - swallowing, eating or drinking contaminated food or drink, or eating with contaminated hands
  • Inhalation - breathing in dust or vapors

Many chemicals have an amount that you can safety be exposed to without adverse health effects. This limit is a combination of the concentration of the chemical and the time of exposure. The higher the concentration of the chemical, the shorter the amount of time you can safely be exposed. You must understand the nature of a chemical and the safe exposure limit before you use the chemical.

How Can You Protect Yourself?

When handling chemicals remember to prepare yourself, then to protect yourself. Some basic principles of chemical handling include:

  • Label all chemicals clearly and accurately. Keep the chemical in the original packaging. Do not deface the label or any printed precautions.
  • Be informed - read the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheets) and all labels BEFORE using a chemical.
  • ASK QUESTIONS! Discuss the chemical with a knowledgeable colleague or supervisor prior to using. If needed, call the manufacturer to find out more information.
  • Substitute less hazardous chemicals whenever possible.
  • Minimize chemical exposures - Limit your time when you are exposed to the chemical. Avoid skin contact and inhalation as much as possible.
  • Avoid underestimating risk of chemicals - do not become complacent.
  • Provide adequate ventilation whenever possible.
  • Use proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) when required - such as safety glasses or respirators.

What are Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs)? Where can I get access to them?

OSHA requires that employees who come into contact with hazardous chemicals be provided with thorough and accurate information on each hazardous chemical present in the workplace. A Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) is the primary source of information about a chemical. Included in all MSDSs is a description of:

  • the chemical's manufacturer,
  • the physical characteristics,
  • a list of incompatible materials,
  • guidelines on proper handling,
  • guidelines on proper disposal, and
  • steps to take in an emergency.

You should consult the MSDS prior to working with a material in order to understand the hazards, identify proper protective measures, verify the information on the label of the container and understand the required first aid (if needed).

Nazareth College Chemtracker Software

Nazareth College's Chemtracker is a centralized database of chemicals on campus. This site may be used to find information about a chemical before use. Knowledge is the key element for reducing the hazardous of chemicals. With knowledge about a chemical you can take the proper precautions, store chemicals properly, or replace a hazardous chemical with a less hazardous one.

ChemTracker provides the ability to perform the following tasks:

  • Search for a chemical by common name, chemical name, or any partial name
  • Know what chemicals are stored in a particular room
  • Download the MSDS sheet (as PDF or web document)
  • Get basic information about the chemical hazards.

Check out Chemtracker

What do I do when I have a hazardous chemical to dispose of?

First, and most important, DO NOT DISPOSE OF IT IN THE GENERAL TRASH OR DOWN THE SINK. Hazardous chemicals must be disposed of is a specific way to protect human life and the environment. If you have chemicals to be disposed, please contact the Environmental Health and Safety Officer (Kevin Riordan,, Ext 2841). The EHS department will coordinate the shipment off campus and the ultimate disposal of the chemical.

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