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[object Object] July 2016

In this Edition

3-D Printer Safety

3D Printer 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, is becoming more common to UW campuses in maker spaces, research labs and classrooms. New users may not realize that 3D printers, the materials they use, or their products and waste could present health or safety hazards. Contact with hot internal parts or hot plastic resin could result in burns or other hand injuries. Respiratory irritation can be caused by ultra-fine particles released during printing, or by particles released during sanding and grinding to finish the object. Dusts can be combustible and make floors slippery. Some printers use lasers or ultraviolet light, and direct exposure could cause damage to your vision.

Here are some ways to reduce exposure to hazards and prevent injuries:

  • Get trained on the safe and efficient use of the printer.
  • Read operating instructions and maintain the printer to keep in good condition.
  • Never try to defeat the safety features.
  • Procure printers that are enclosed and have an interlock system that prevents the machine from running while moving parts are exposed. Ensure that printers with lasers or UV light are properly shielded to prevent eye exposure.
  • Use only manufacturer recommended materials, less hazardous or “green” resins, plastics, or other materials.
  • Ensure the room has an adequate ventilation. Promptly clean up and dispose of dust, scraps, and waste properly.
  • Turn off, unplug, and cool down the unit prior to cleaning or repairing.
  • Obtain a Class D fire extinguisher if working with combustible metals.

Have a design and would like to try out a 3-D printer? There are designated maker spaces that will provide you with training and safety orientation, such as the Co-Motion space at Fluke Hall. Visit the CMU site for more detailed information about 3-D printer safety, or contact EH&S at

Nitric Acid Incident on Campus

Hazardous Materials TeamNitric acid is a highly-corrosive mineral acid and strong oxidizer used primarily for nitration of organic molecules. Nitric acid reacts violently with alcohols, alkalis, reducing agents, combustible materials, organic materials, metals, acids, cyanides, terpenes, charcoal, and acetone. Not only does it produce exothermic reactions but also toxic, corrosive, and flammable vapors. The violent, reactive nature of nitric acid has led to major incidents at research universities such as Tufts, Texas Tech, and, recently, here at the University of Washington.

On May 9, 2016, a graduate student, working alone in a lab, stored a solution of 70% nitric acid wash in the fume hood as waste. She then tried to dissolve acetates using ethanol, hydrochloric acid, and water for an experiment. Unable to get the acetates to completely dissolve, she decided to discard the solution by pouring it into the nitric acid wash container in the fume hood. Ethanol solutions should be poured into organic waste and hydrochloric acid should be poured into inorganic acid waste.

The graduate student's actions inadvertently resulted in an explosion in the fume hood, which caused the shattering of the glass containing the nitric acid wash, as well as damage to other containers.

In this incident, a visible white gas formed on one of the cracked containers. The reaction of the nitric acid vapors with the contents of other containers would have been controlled by the ventilation system of the fume hood. Unfortunately, the fuming container was removed and set on the floor. Gas and odors prompted people to evacuate, pull the fire alarm, and call 911.

Broken Nitric Acid Bottle
Nitric acid can be extremely hazardous in cases of inhalation (lung corrosive),
skin contact (corrosive, irritant, permeator), eye contact (corrosive), or ingestion.

Luckily, no injuries were reported from this incident. However, it did result in evacuation of the entire building, road closure, and vehicle inaccessibility to other buildings, as well as a response from over 50 emergency personnel and local news crews. Proper handling, storage, and disposal of nitric acid are key to avoiding such incidents (or worse) in the future!

Nitric Acid Safe Use Guidelines

  • Use in ventilated areas and in proximity to eyewash and safety shower stations, wearing compatible gloves, goggles, and a lab coat.
  • Avoid contact with metals! Nitric acid is extremely corrosive in the presence of aluminum, copper, and oxides and attacks all base metals.
  • Store in glass containers that are secured, dry, cool (<23'C/73.4'F), away from sources of ignition, combustible materials, other acids, bases, cyanides, and acetone.
  • Storage containers must be dry, as nitric acid can react with water or steam to produce heat, and toxic, corrosive, and flammable vapors.
  • Pre-labeled and dated safety-coated glass bottles (PTFE) may be used for nitric acid waste; avoid empty organic solvent bottles.
  • Proper waste segregation can help avoid laboratory accidents and explosions. Nitric acid should be added to the oxidizing acid waste stream. In the case of a spill, absorb nitric acid with an inert dry material (earth, sand, or other non-combustible material), place in an appropriate waste container, and neutralize with dilute sodium carbonate.
  • Principal investigators planning to use nitric acid should develop a standard operating procedure and provide documented training to all of their respective personnel. 
  • Principal investigators and/or lab managers are responsible for ensuring all laboratory personnel understand and adhere to safety requirements in the laboratory.
  • Following EH&S safety protocols in the Laboratory Safety Manual will help research universities and facilities avoid the health and economic costs of nitric acid accidents.

In the case of a spill, absorb nitric acid with an inert dry material (earth, sand, or other non-combustible materials). Then place in an appropriate waste container and neutralize with dilute sodium carbonate. Labs planning to use nitric acid should develop a safety plan and provide training to their respective lab groups. Following EH&S safety protocols will help research universities and facilities avoid the health and economic costs of nitric acid accidents.

Gear Up for Summer Lab Work

shorts and exposed legsSummer in Seattle means hiking, biking, kayaking, and … lab work? Yes, many of us spend our gorgeous summer days working in the lab. While it’s fine to wear shorts, skirts, sandals, or flip flops outside, wearing these items in the lab can expose you to hazards. We recommend keeping an appropriate change of clothes and shoes in the lab. Proper lab attire ensures your skin is covered and protected. Even if you aren’t working with hazardous materials that day, your coworker might be, so always dress to protect yourself.

sneakers with feet and legs coveredChoose shoes that cover the entire foot and heel, and clothing that covers the legs and torso. Ankle boots, chukka boots, oxfords, sneakers, and clogs (if they cover the entire foot) are all great options for the lab. UCLA’s short video can also help you select the right footwear for the lab. See the UW Lab Safety Manual for a detailed description of proper lab attire.

Would you go hiking or climbing without the appropriate gear? Choose the right gear for your lab work and stay safe this summer.

UW Fire Drill Procedures Changing

evacuation drill
Seattle campus evacuation drill

While the formal Administrative Policy Statement (APS) update is not yet approved, policy and procedure change is underway to assign EH&S the responsibility to plan, schedule, and help facilitate fire drills for most UW Seattle buildings. This change will reduce the administrative burden of building coordinators to plan the drill and relieves Seattle Facilities Services from the task of activating the alarm system. Formal policy change is anticipated to occur later this summer. The following links provide information to related materials, resources and tools that have just changed:

  • Fire Safety and Evacuation Plan (FSEP)
    This 20 page user friendly template found at the page above replaces the Evacuation and Operations Plan (EEOP) template.
    We’ve anticipated and hopefully answered your questions. Feel free to call us at (206) 616-6261 if you have other questions.

Animal Researchers: Meet HoverBoard, UW's eIACUC Solution

HoverBoard Logo The University of Washington Office of Animal Welfare, in partnership with the Office of Research Information Services, is launching the HoverBoard System. HoverBoard is an important initiative to upgrade to a streamlined, integrated environment for submitting and managing animal protocols. HoverBoard comes with a collaborative workflow and simplified management of IACUC processes, as well as facilitated review of biosafety concerns. HoverBoard will provide an end-to-end, web-based solution for investigators to create, submit, track, view, and manage animal protocols.

HoverBoard features:

  • A library of standard substances and procedures
  • Ability to copy and share procedures, substances, experiments, and even full protocols
  • Easier review of protocol-specific biosafety concerns
  • User-friendly SmartForms, tailored to your research
  • Automatic incorporation of all protocol changes easy 3-year renewals
  • Transparency throughout the IACUC review and approval process

Want more information? Visit our HoverBoard website.

New Policy on Asbestos and Regulated Building Materials

This spring a new administrative policy statement on Managing Asbestos and Other Regulated Building Materials (APS12.1) was adopted. While the majority of the policy and procedures apply to facilities services departments and other service units, some procedures apply to all departments, including the following:

  • All new employees are required to complete a one-time General Asbestos Awareness online training when hired.
  • Departments performing or contracting for minor installations or alterations directly, or independent of Capital Planning and Development or Facilities Services Alterations, must implement applicable procedures to avoid damaging asbestos. Examples of work include purchase and installation services for office cubicles, flooring, fixed audio/visual equipment, fixed shelving, or other building fixtures. See additional information.

Additional information about asbestos, the health hazard it presents, and how the University manages asbestos may be found at the EH&S website.

Preparing for a Hazardous Waste Inspection

Your workspace should always be ready for an inspection. The most important thing you can do to be prepared for an inspection is to keep your lab, shop, clinic, or other workspace clean, organized, and up to University of Washington standards. Take the time to look over the sample Laboratory Safety Checklist or the sample Shop Safety Checklist on the EH&S website.

The most common violations found during hazardous waste inspections are open containers and incomplete labels. Please make sure that waste containers remain closed at all times unless you're actively adding waste to that container. All waste containers must have a UW Hazardous Waste label as soon as they contain any waste. Please make sure to fill out the label completely and check the boxes for the appropriate hazards. You may check more than one.

During your inspection, you may be asked to show training records for your staff. You should keep training records on file in a convenient location so you can refer to them easily if asked. If you or your staff have attended courses offered through EH&S, you can access those records at MY EH&S Training. You will need your employees' UW NetIDs to pull up their training records. Contact the EH&S Training Office at if you need help.

You may also be asked to provide Safety Data Sheets (SDSs or MSDSs) for chemicals in your workspace. If you don't keep paper copies on-hand, you can refer to the electronic copies stored on the MyChem database. Be sure that your MyChem inventory is up-to-date, and that you know how to access the MSDS/SDSs. Contact the MyChem administrator if you need help at

If you need to review hazardous waste management guidelines, please visit the EH&S webpage on Hazardous Chemical Waste or Section 3 of the UW Lab Safety Manual

New Autoclave Safety Guidelines, Training, Tools, and Resources

autoclaveThe EH&S Autoclaves Web page contains new content, including General Autoclave Safety Guidelines, Autoclaving Biohazardous Waste Guidelines, and step-by-step instructions for autoclave users. Get trained by watching an excellent autoclave training video, read up on potential hazards and monitoring requirements, and then use the provided tools and resources to operate your autoclave safely and compliantly.

For those that autoclave biohazardous waste, we’ve included an easily fillable site-specific procedures template and links for purchasing the required chemical integrators. Principal investigators, departmental managers, and/or facility supervisors are responsible for ensuring proper sterilization of biohazardous waste, so be prepared. EH&S monitors autoclave and decontamination compliance practices as part of biosafety laboratory visits.

UW researchers and others provided valuable input to develop our safety information. If you have questions or feedback, please contact an EH&S Biosafety Officer at 206-221-7770 or See more online at

[object Object]Send comments and submissions to the newsletter producer, Anne Tschider.