Last Revised: April 12, 2024

Revised 7/2022

The University of Pennsylvania in coordination with the Office of Environmental Health and Radiation Safety (EHRS) strives to provide employees with a safe and healthful work environment. The purpose of the Reproductive Health Program is to minimize employee exposure to reproductive hazards and ensure that employees are informed of the known reproductive hazards in their work environment.

The SOP below provides guidance for safe handling of chemicals in the laboratory.  For more information about Penn's Reproductive Health Program, including hazard assessments and reproductive health counseling for Penn workers, see:  Reproductive Health.

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Hazard Description

Hazard Description

GHS health hazard pictogram red bordered diamond with white starburst on black silhouette of human torso
         Health Hazard

Reproductive hazards are substances which affect the reproductive capabilities including chromosomal damage (mutagens) and effects on the fetus (teratogens). Examples of reproductive health hazards are included in at the end of this SOP in the section called "List of Chemicals with Reproductive Health Hazards."

This SOP covers the hazards, requirements, and hazard controls for solid and liquid chemicals with reproductive hazards.  For gases with reproductive hazards, consult the SOP: Hazardous and Highly Toxic Gases.  The requirements for acutely toxic gases apply to procedures that involve gases with reproductive health hazards.



If you or your lab has not worked with this hazard before and you are considering a procedure that requires you to do so, we recommend contacting EHRS for guidance.

All work that involves the handling or transfer of reproductive hazard chemicals requires the approval of the P.I.  The P.I. must ensure that the person or team who will be working with the reproductive hazard chemicals understands the hazards and has received adequate training and supervision for the procedure. 

For any task that requires safety controls beyond those specified in this SOP, a task-specific Hazard Control Plan (HCP) must be written.  The HCP must be sent to EHRS for review.  EHRS will upload the HCP to the “documents” section of the lab’s BioRAFT page.

Training Requirements

Training Requirements

No researcher may work independently with the hazardous material described in this SOP until the Principal Investigator (or their designee) has ensured that the researcher:

  • Has completed all required EHRS laboratory safety training programs
  • Understands the hazards of the materials and risks of the processes involved
  • Has read and understands the contents of this SOP
  • Demonstrates the ability to execute their work according to the requirements in this SOP
Facility Requirements

Facility Requirements

General Ventilation

Reproductive hazard chemicals may not be handled or stored in a room or facility with recirculating exhaust.

Chemical Fume Hood

All work with reproductive hazard chemicals in open or closed systems must be done in a designated area of a laboratory inside of a properly functioning chemical fume hood.

Emergency Irrigation

Emergency irrigation (safety shower, eyewash) must be accessible within a 10-second travel distance of the area where the work is performed.

Signage and Labeling

Signage and Labeling

The room sign for the laboratory must contain a “Designated Area” identifier.

In cases where the entire lab is not already considered a Designated Area, all locations within the laboratory where reproductive hazard chemicals are handled must be demarcated with designated area caution tape and/or posted with designated area caution signs. Preprinted tape is available from EHRS. Alternately the lab worker may write “designated area” on yellow tape.  This includes all fume hoods and bench tops where the reproductive hazard chemicals are handled.

A legible manufacturer’s label including hazard information must be present on all commercial containers of reproductive hazard chemicals.

If reproductive hazard chemicals are transferred to another container for storage or to make stock solutions for later use, special labeling requirements apply.  See the “Researcher-Created Labels” section in Section IV:  Chemical Container Labeling in this CHP for a complete list of requirements.

Storage and Transport

Storage and Transport

Proper storage and transport of reproductive hazard chemicals must be determined by assessing all of the hazards and physical properties of the chemical. 

See Section VI:  Chemical Storage and Transportation in this CHP for a complete list of requirements.

Hazard Controls

Hazard Controls

Engineering Controls

Chemical Fume Hood

All work with reproductive hazard chemicals in open or closed systems must be done in a designated area of a laboratory inside of a properly functioning chemical fume hood.

The fume hood is designed to capture chemical vapor and the hood sash acts as a shield in case of chemical splash.  The sash must be kept closed as much as feasible.

Vacuum Protection

Mechanical vacuum pumps must be protected using cold traps and, where appropriate, must include a filter to prevent particulate release.  The pump exhaust must be vented into an approved exhaust duct or chemical fume hood.

Glove Box

Certain acutely toxic chemicals must be handled in a glove box rather than a fume hood. The Office of Environmental Health and Radiation Safety (8-4453) or the Principal Investigator will determine if this is required.

If a chemical fume hood or glove box is not available, contact EHRS to determine whether the risks can be adequately controlled using alternative controls.

Work Practices

A list of recommended work practices for hazardous chemical handling is included in Section V: Chemical Handling in this CHP. Of particular relevance to reproductive hazard chemical use:

Considerations for purchase

  • Do not use reproductive hazard chemicals if less-hazardous alternatives are possible.
  • Purchase, dispense, and use the smallest quantity of reproductive hazard chemicals possible. 
  • Purchase the lowest concentration of reproductive hazard chemicals that will meet your research needs.

Considerations for work space

  • Use disposable work surface covers (“bench protectors”) in areas where reproductive hazard chemicals are handled to prevent contamination of work surface.  Change bench protectors daily when reproductive hazard chemicals are used, and properly dispose of contaminated covers.

Considerations for handling

  • Do not handle reproductive hazard  chemicals when working alone.
  • Immediately close all containers of reproductive hazard chemicals after use.
  • Due to the risk of splashes and equipment failures, do not use a syringe and needle to perform transfers of reproductive hazard chemicals in volumes of greater than 5 mL. 
  • When performing small-volume liquid transfers of chemicals with health hazards, it is not appropriate to use a luer-slip syringe type, because the needle can easily detach from the syringe barrel resulting in chemical splash and exposure.  Luer-lock or integrated-needle syringes must be used with these chemicals if a chemical exposure due to splash presents a significant health risk.  
  • Do not dispense reproductive hazard chemicals directly onto a laboratory balance in the general lab space.  Instead, transfer the material into a sealable pre-tared container inside the fume hood; then take the sealed container to the balance.  Adjust the amount of material inside the container until the desired mass is reached.  Make all adjustments inside the fume hood.
  • The use of reproductive hazard chemicals in laboratory animals may require additional work practice controls.  Contact EHRS if your protocol involves acutely toxic chemicals.

Additional work practices for reducing the risks of any lab procedure involving reproductive hazard chemicals must be described in a written Hazard Control Plan.

Personal Protective Equipment

Consider the potential routes of exposure and health consequences when selecting personal protective equipment (PPE) for tasks involving reproductive hazard chemicals. 

In addition to the minimum lab apparel and PPE requirements, other protective equipment may be necessary to reduce risks.  When additional equipment (such as tight-fitting chemical splash goggles, chemical-resistant gloves, or disposable lab coats) are required, a Hazard Control Plan must be written to document the risk assessment and controls.

Contact EHRS for assistance with risk assessments, glove compatibility, and other PPE selection.

The minimum PPE requirements for all chemical handling tasks, and information about specialty PPE can be found in the "Personal Protective Equipment" section of Section V:  Chemical Handling in this CHP.

Waste and Decontamination

Waste and Decontamination

Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling any chemical and whenever you leave the lab.

Use good housekeeping practices to avoid contamination of surfaces, garments, personal belongings, and self.

Decontaminate all surfaces that have come in contact with reproductive hazard chemicals and clean-up small spills promptly.  See the chemical Safety Data Sheet or contact EHRS for assistance with determining an appropriate decontamination method.  See “Spills” below for instruction on what to do in the event of a large or hazardous spill of a reproductive hazard chemical.

For complete hazardous waste guidelines, see the waste section of the EHRS website: Laboratory Chemical Waste Management Guidelines



Emergency Contacts

General emergency response information can be found at Emergency Info


General procedures for chemicals spill response can be found in Section X: Chemical Spills in this CHP.

Do not hesitate to call EHRS for assistance with spill cleanup for reproductive hazard chemicals.

24 hours: 215-898-4453

Contact Penn Police (511) only if the spill involves a fire, imminent risk of fire, an injury requiring an ambulance, or if there is a hazard that may affect others in the building.

List of Chemicals with Reproductive Health Hazards

This list is provided as a guide and is not a comprehensive list of all chemicals with reproductive hazards. Review material safety data sheet.

Name CAS#   Name CAS#























Lead (inorganic compounds)







Carbon disulfide



2-Methoxyethyl acetate





Methyl chloride







Dimethyl formamide



Propylene glycol monomethyl ether





Propylene glycol monomethyl ether acetate


Dinitrooctyl phenol



Propylene oxide







2-Ethoxy ethanol





2-Ethoxyethyl acetate





Ethylene thiourea



TOK (herbicide)







Glycol ethers     Vinyl chloride 75-01-4


This SOP was based on the previous version of “EHRS SOP for Acutely Toxic Chemicals” and the following additional resources:

  1. SOP:  Acutely Toxic Chemicals
  2. Penn's Employee Reproductive Health Program