Environmental Health & Safety Video Training Series 




This video provides guidance for assessing risks of toxic chemicals used in the modern biology laboratory. It is intended to supplement the formal instruction provided in each institution and each laboratory. This video is not a substitute for a safety-training program.

ďPerhaps our notion of whatís dangerous and whatís not dangerous and what proper practice should be is distorted from the controversy that surrounded recombinant DNA technology. When it was introduced, procedures which most thoughtful people felt should be really addressed with a certain level of safety were exaggerated perhaps in the public mind. And, when there isnít a sufficient justification for a safety procedures, it loses its meaning and you lose respect for it. That is important to overcome because when you do work in a laboratory there are reagents in the laboratory and procedures that are very worthy of the kind of respect thatís necessary to deal with them.Ē

Philip Leder, M.D.

HHMI Senior Investigator

Harvard Medical School

Sensible risk assessment is an essential part of any experiment involving toxic chemicals. Good first steps are seeking the advice of colleagues who have experience in handling toxic chemicals, and checking reliable references. The National Research Councilís Prudent Practices in the Laboratory is a valuable resource; Material Safety Data Sheets identify hazards and provide important toxicological information.

Risk assessment requires planning to determine the risks involved and to select the appropriate safety measures. Two principles should guide your planning.

  • Substitution with less toxic substances whenever possible
  • Use of the smallest amount of material that is practicable

Viewing time:  11:12 Minutes - Click here to view this video

Produced by Schumann Productions for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Office of Laboratory Safety 


Used with permission