Spill Response and Clean-Up

Spill Characteristics

How a chemical spill is handled is dependent on its size, associated hazards of the released material(s), available resources, and the experience/competence level of the responder.

Minor Chemical Spill

Major Chemical Spill

  • Within capabilities and resources to clean
  • Small amount (volume)
  • No inhalation hazard (i.e., no toxic vapor or toxic dust)
  • Does NOT require respiratory protection
  • Not highly hazardous by skin contact
  • Spill in easily accessible area or confined area (e.g., secondary containment or fume hood)
  • Beyond capabilities and resources to clean
  • Large amount (volume)
  • Highly hazardous substance
  • Emits harmful/toxic vapor, gas, or dust
  • High risk for responder while cleaning up
  • Spill entering public areas, floor drains, or inaccessible locations (e.g., under cabinets)

What to Do

DO NOT attempt to clean a spill beyond your level of comfort or expertise. When in doubt, call DPS. For MINOR spills, ensure that clean-up materials are compatible with spilled materials and follow the protocols provided by USC EH&S, Safety Data Sheet (SDS), or by the manufacturer of a professional spill kit.

Spill Notification Procedure

Follow the Spill Notification Procedure below for hazardous spills.

  1. Alert all persons nearby.
  2. Secure the area and DO NOT attempt to clean unless you are properly trained, equipped, and you understand the chemical/hazardous characteristics of the spilled material.
  3. Evacuate, if necessary.
  4. Call DPS- UPC: (213) 740-4321; HSC: (323) 442-1000. Notify DPS of any spill, even if the spill was cleaned.

You can download the Chemical Spill Response Notification Flyer here.

Simple Compressed Gas Leak

Follow steps below if the compressed gas leak presents minimal to no inhalation or fire hazard.

  1. Remove ignition sources.
  2. Restrict access.
  3. Place in or next to a fume hood.
  4. Locate leak(s) with soapy water; tighten fittings to stop leak.
  5. If cylinder still leaks, notify supervisor.
  6. Contact labsafety@usc.edu or (323) 442-2200.

Biohazardous Spill

Follow instructions in the Biohazardous Spill Clean-Up Guide Sheet for minor biohazardous spills.

Radioactive Spill

Follow instructions in the Radiation Emergency Procedures to clean up minor radioactive spills.