Chemical spills: Take quick action to avoid injury
Knowing what to do when a spill occurs protects you, your family and helps safeguard Michigan’s water resources.
Chemical spills do happen. It may be a small spill that you can handle with a spill kit or one that you are not able to handle yourself. In either case, the trick is to be prepared.
When a spill occurs, follow these steps of proper spill response:
Always assess the dangers of a spill or release first. If a spill cannot be controlled or contained without endangering life or safety, call 911 immediately.
If possible, control the source of the spill. Shut valves, plug leaks or set container upright. Note: don’t attempt to control the spill if you don’t have the proper personal protective equipment needed to handle dangerous chemicals.
Stop the spread of the spill and contain it to as small an area as possible and away from groundwater, surface water, wells, storm drains or floor drains. Use a shovel to make a soil berm around the spill or apply an absorbent material such as cat litter.
If necessary, contact the appropriate authorities. If the spill is a danger to health or safety, immediately call 911. If there is a danger to groundwater or surface water, call the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Pollution Emergency Hotline: 1-800-292-4706.
- Clean up
For a dry spill, use the broom and dustpan to sweep up the product and then dispose of it property or use it as intended.
For a wet spill, use cat litter, activated charcoal, soil or sawdust to absorb the chemical, then sweep it up and dispose of it material properly. Take contaminated materials to a local household hazardous waste collection program or contact a local Clean Sweep collection site. Never wash a spill down a drain as most drains lead directly to lakes, rivers or streams.
For more information on preventing environmental contamination risks in and around the home, an excellent resource is the “Home*A*Syst – Home Assessment Guide (WQ-51),” available through the Michigan State University (MSU) Extension Bookstore.
For information on how to make a spill kit at home, see the article “Chemical spills: Build a simple spill kit at home.”
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