The Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences

Laboratory safety, what do I need to know?

What do I have to know about safety issues in the Microscopy and Cytometry Facility? Where can I find more information about safety?

Safety issues

Many of the chemicals used in electron microscopy protocols are hazardous. If handled improperly they may cause serious health problems. The purpose of raising this issue is not to scare or discourage anyone, but rather to educate users to properly and safely handle these chemicals. The regulations should be considered non-negotiable.

There is a zero tolerance policy for unsafe or careless handling of chemicals or equipment in the facility.


It is recommended that all persons working in a laboratory attend the chemical safety training seminar, a free course given by Environmental Health and Safety at Penn State.


  • All fixatives, solvents and embedding media must be handled in a hood with caution.
  • Assume all chemicals are hazardous, regardless of label, handle with caution.
  • Do not pour anything down the drain unless specifically directed to do so by a staff member.

More Resources

  • Smithwick, EB (1985) Cautions, Common Sense, and Rationale for the Electron Microscopy Laboratory. Journal of Electron Microscopy Technique 2: 193-200.
  • Barber, VC (1984) Safety in the Scanning Electron Microscopy Laboratory - 1984 Update. Scanning Electron Microscopy IV: 1719 - 1722