Hazardous Chemical Management

Chemicals are everywhere! Routine items such as hair spray, makeup, air fresheners, cleaners, and even many food additives are based on chemicals.

While most chemicals we use are safe, misuse can cause severe reactions such as immediate or delayed illness, chronic disease (especially cancer), organ failure, and even death. This page provides basic information about how chemicals are handled here at Nazareth University.

Nazareth University makes protecting the health of all students, staff, faculty, and visitors the highest priority. Campus policies concerning chemicals 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.

Use Nazareth College's ChemTracker for basic information about each hazardous chemical as well as its Material Safety Data Sheet.

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of products may be considered hazardous?

While people use these chemicals every day, these substances can be harmful if used improperly. For example:

  • 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 (known as the Right To Know law) states that employees and students have the right to know about the hazards of chemicals used on campus. Nazareth University 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 Associate Director (kriorda7@naz.edu, 585-389-2841).

What are the physical hazards 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 short-term or long-term human health problems 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. 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 safely 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 the time when you are exposed to the chemical. Avoid skin contact and inhalation as much as possible.
  • Avoid underestimating risk. 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 and includes:

  • the chemical's manufacturer
  • the physical characteristics
  • a list of incompatible materials
  • guidelines on proper handling
  • guidelines on proper disposal
  • 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 University Chemtracker

Nazareth University's Chemtracker is a centralized database of chemicals on campus. Use this to find information about a chemical before use. Knowledge is the key element for reducing the hazards 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.

How should I dispose of a hazardous chemical?

DO NOT DISPOSE OF IT IN THE GENERAL TRASH OR DOWN THE SINK. Hazardous chemicals must be disposed of in specific ways to protect human life and the environment. If you have chemicals to be disposed, please contact Associate Director Kevin Riordan, kriorda7@naz.edu, 585-389-2841. The Campus Safety Department will coordinate the shipment off campus and the ultimate disposal of the chemical.

EHS Contact Info

If you have any questions about chemicals on campus, please contact Associate Director Kevin Riordan at  585-389-2841 or kriorda7@naz.edu.

Call Campus Safety, 585-389-2850, with any emergency situation.


Use Nazareth University's chemical database tool to learn about most chemicals used on campus:

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