and other such databases are accessible through various online computer data services; also, most of this information is available as CD and computer updates. Many of these services can be accessed for up-to-date toxicity information.

Governmental sources of EHS information include

   NIOSH (,

   OSHA (,

   Environmental Protection Agency (EPA;

4.B.7.1 The National Library of Medicine Databases

The databases supplied by NLM are easy to use and free to access via the Web. TOXNET is an online collection of toxicological and environmental health databases. TOXLINE, for example, is an online database that accesses journals and other resources for current toxicological information on drugs and chemicals. It covers data published from 1900 to the present. Databases accessible through TOXNET include the Hazardous Substance Data Base (HSDB) Carcinogenic Potency Database (CPDB), the Developmental and Reproductive Toxicology Database (DART), the Genetic Toxicology Data Bank (GENE-TOX), the Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS), the Chemical Carcinogenesis Research Information System (CCRIS), and the International Toxicity Estimates for Risk (ITER). Other databases supplied by NLM that provide access to toxicological information are PubMed, which includes access to MEDLINE, PubChem, and ChemIDPlus. Free text searching is available on most of the databases.

4.B.7.2 Chemical Abstracts Databases

Another source of toxicity data is Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS). In addition to the NLM, several services provide CAS, including DIALOG, ORBIT, STN, and SciFinder. Searching procedures for CAS depend on the various services supplying the database. Searching costs are considerably higher than for NLM databases because CAS royalties must be paid. Telephone numbers for the above suppliers are as follows:

DIALOG, 800-334-2564;

Questel, 800-456-7248;

STN, 800-734-4227;

SciFinder, 800-753-4227.

Additional information can be found on the CAS Web site,

Specialized databases also exist. One example is the ECOTOX database from EPA ( This database provides information on toxicity of chemicals to aquatic life, terrestrial plants, and wildlife.

Searching any database listed above is best done using the CAS registry number for the particular chemical.

4.B.7.3 Informal Forums

The “Letters to the Editor” column of Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), published weekly by the American Chemical Society (ACS), was for many years an informal but widely accepted forum for reporting anecdotal information on chemical reactivity hazards and other safety-related information. Although less frequently updated, the ACS maintains an archive of all safety-related letters submitted to C&EN on the Web site of the Division of Chemical Health and Safety (CHAS) of ACS. CHAS also publishes the Journal of Chemical Health and Safety. Additional resources include the annual safety editorial called “Safety Notables: Information from the Literature” in the Organic Process Research and Development and community Listservs relating to laboratory safety.

4.B.8 Training

One important source of information for laboratory personnel is training sessions, and the critical place it holds in creating a safe environment should not be underestimated. Facts are only as useful as one’s ability to interpret and apply them to a given problem, and training provides context for their use. Hands-on, scenario-based training is ideal because it provides the participants with the chance to practice activities and behaviors in a safe way. Such training is especially useful for learning emergency response procedures. Another effective tool, particularly when trying to build awareness of a given safety concern, is case studies. Prior to beginning any laboratory activity, it is important to ensure that personnel have enough training to safely perform required tasks. If new equipment, materials, or techniques are to be used, a risk assessment should be performed, and any knowledge gaps should be filled before beginning work. (More information about training programs can be found in Chapter 2, section 2.G.)


4.C.1 Basic Principles

The chemicals encountered in the laboratory have a broad spectrum of physical, chemical, and toxicological properties and physiological effects. The risks associated with chemicals must be well understood

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