The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Tissue Processing in Histology. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Reagent Safety

Safety training is an integral part of a safe histology laboratory. Chemical safety must be addressed by each laboratory through the Chemical Hygiene Plan (CHP), which communicates safety standards and safeguards to the staff. Associates must understand the risks associated with biohazards, mechanical hazards (such as blades), and chemical hazards. Protection such as personal protective equipment (PPE) includes items such as gloves, lab coats, and goggles, and should be worn appropriately wherever these hazards exist. Each chemical used must have a material safety data sheet (MSDS) available in the laboratory or online for access in case of emergency and to familiarize staff with possible chemical hazards. A small portion of an MSDS sheet is displayed in the image. The MSDS summarizes the hazards associated with the chemical, storage and disposal, as well as potential health effects and first aid measures in case of exposure. Good ventilation and the use of a fume hood during reagent handling minimizes exposure to chemical fumes.
A sampling of safety information for the three most common processing reagents is presented below. This information is not exhaustive and is not a substitute for your laboratory's safety training or the MSDS for each chemical.
  • Carcinogen
  • Combustible liquid, corrosive
  • Irritating to eyes, nose, skin; harmful by inhalation
  • Targets central nervous system, skin, eyes, liver, blood, and respiratory system
Ethanol/ isopropanol/ reagent alcohol:
  • Flammable liquid and vapor
  • Targets central nervous system, respiratory system, skin, eyes, liver, and kidneys
  • Irritating to skin, eyes, and respiratory tract
  • Highly flammable liquid and vapor
  • May cause dizziness and headaches; harmful by inhalation
  • Targets central nervous system, respiratory system, skin and eyes