Safety Issue: Chemical Handling

Mary Tang mtang at
Mon Aug 23 13:02:13 PDT 2004


There has been a rash of incidents in involving handling of chemicals
and chemical waste in the lab.  Unlabeled beakers containing chemicals
have been found – on one occasion, ON TOP of an exhausted hood station,
where it donated resist fumes to the litho area.  In one appalling
instance, someone placed a yellow hazardous waste bag containing resist
waste, untied, and without a label, into the regular trash can.  The
custodian, doing his regular cleanup, complained about the smell to
Mario, who took care of it... however irresponsible it is to expose
fellow labmates to unknown chemicals, it is utterly unconscionable to
expose the custodial staff.

Then, just this weekend, a concerned labmember found and reported an
unlabeled bag of solid waste near wbsolvent and two more unlabeled
beakers of resist were found in a litho bench.

I’m sure that no one intentionally did these things.  And equally sure
that it would be difficult to find the person(s) responsible.  However,
in following up on each of these incidents, I seem to always get at
least one response from someone who noticed something wrong at the time,
but was too busy or shy to do or say anything...  Please...  We are ALL

Even if you are not the person who did these things, this is your lab
too (and your air that you are breathing.)  If you see someone engaging
in an unsafe situation,  you should be able to tell the person about
your concerns.  At the very least, you should let a staff member know or
email safety at with your concerns.  If you see chemical
waste that has been improperly handled or dispose of, please tell
someone (safety at or your friendly neighborhood
staffer).  If you aren’t sure and it’s off hours,  ask your fellow
labmembers and send an email (safety at

Consider this an utlimatum:  Paul Rissman is making safety a top
priority.  He’s the new sheriff in town, and I’m a deputy.  So, for each
safety incident encountered in the lab that we can’t trace, we’ll impose
a penalty on EVERYONE who has enabled equipment in the vicinity.  The
penalties thus far are relatively light and consist of taking the safety
test (for those old-timers who haven’t done so) or providing an
acceptable multiple-choice question that can be used for the test.  NO,
there’s no guarantee that the person who did this is also getting
penalized.  YES, there will be a number of people who are getting
penalized who are in no way responsible.  YES, there may be some
innocent people who get penalized multiple times.  However, the penalty
is small – please view this as an act of community service to improve
safety and safety awareness.  (And if anyone can think of a better
method for eliminating these chemical safety handling problems, we’ll
gladly discuss this with you.)

I trust everyone is as concerned as we are about making sure the lab is
a safe place to work.

And did I tell you that we have a safety group, who can be reached at
safety at  If you have any questions, comments, or
concerns about this, please email safety at

Thanks for your attention --


Mary X. Tang, Ph.D.
Stanford Nanofabrication Facility
CIS Room 136, Mail Code 4070
Stanford, CA  94305
mtang at

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