Guidelines For The Safe Use Of Chemical Carcinogens

Prior to initiating any work involving chemical carcinogens, please complete a SOP for carcinogens.


  1. Records: A separate inventory of carcinogens on hand should be kept in each laboratory. Estimates of the actual amounts present are recommended but not yet required.
  2. Location: Carcinogens should be stored together not along with other chemicals. Separate areas should be set aside in the refrigerator and/or lab and/or freezer for carcinogen storage.
  3. Containers: Two levels of containment should be used. The first represents the bottle in which the compound is contained. The best container for the second level of containment is a paint can. Several bottles of carcinogens can be stored within a paint can as well as desiccant as required. A label listing the carcinogens within should be applied.


Carcinogens should be transported from lab to lab using a two-container containment system. A paint can will also serve as the second level of containment for transportation. Both containers should be covered to prevent a spill should they be dropped.


  1. Bottles containing carcinogens should never be opened outside a hood.
  2. Carcinogens should be transferred to tarred capped vials for weighing.
  3. Caution must be taken to prevent powder from being dispersed within the hood by the air current when transfers are carried out.
    • Put down a piece of plastic backed paper.
    • Make the transfer carefully toward the back of the hood where air turbulence is minimal.


  1. Carcinogen powder should be dissolved under a hood. Mouth pipetting is prohibited.
  2. Care must always be taken to avoid aerosols created by vortexing, liquid transfers, etc. Do all such procedures under a hood or in a closed container.
  3. Special care must be used when dealing with volatile carcinogens. These should only be handled under hoods, preferably hoods with charcoal filtered exhaust.


  1. Identify all work and storage areas where chemical carcinogens are present with appropriate signs: i.e., Danger – Chemical Carcinogen Authorized Personnel Only.
  2. Limit access to all work and storage areas where chemical carcinogens are present.
  3. Extreme care should be taken to avoid aerosols.
  4. Whenever possible work under a hood.
  5. Never pipette by mouth.
  6. Wear disposable gloves and fully closed lab coats. Do not wear these items outside of the carcinogen work area.
  7. Work over disposable plastic backed paper.
  8. When injecting animals or otherwise working with carcinogens outside of a hood:
    • Wear disposable lab coats, facemasks and gloves (head covers to be considered).
    • Inject animals over plastic backed paper. Use only Luer-lock syringes and needles.
    • Work in an isolated area properly posted so that others will not interrupt.
    • If animals are being used, be sure to have discussed post-carcinogen treatment animal handling procedures with the Safety Office.
  9. Special precautions must be taken in any animal studies involving carcinogen feeding. Protocols for such studies must be discussed with the Safety Office.
  10. Eating, drinking, smoking and food storage should be prohibited in laboratories where chemical carcinogens are present.
  11. The laboratory worker should develop the habit of keeping hands away from mouth, nose, eyes and face. Wash hands after completion of a procedure using chemical carcinogens.


  1. All types of carcinogen waste should be kept to a minimum. Plan experiments so that the amount of solid and/or liquid waste generated is as small as possible.
  2. Label all carcinogen waste containers with DANGER/CAUTION – CHEMICAL CARCINOGEN. Keep all containers in a hood.
  3. Contact the Safety Office at extension 8475 for disposal.

For further information regarding the safe use of chemical carcinogens contact the Chemical Hygiene Officer at or call 302-831-8475.