General Chemical Storage Guidelines

  • Storage cabinets and shelving must be made of materials compatible with the chemicals being stored.
  • Use of compatible, corrosion-resistant storage trays (i.e. polypropylene) is recommended as secondary containment to catch spills, leaks, or drips from primary storage containers.
  • Leaking storage containers must be replaced and the chemical transferred to a new container or over-packed into a secondary container.
  • Avoid storing chemicals on top of cabinets or on shelves higher than 5 feet (1.5 m). Use a step stool when retrieving materials stored above on overhead shelves.
  • Maintain at least 18 inches of clearance from area fire sprinkler heads to allow for proper functioning of the sprinkler system in the event of a fire. [NFPA Standard 13].
  • Store heavy materials on lower shelves.
  • Keep exits, passageways and areas near emergency equipment clear of clutter to allow for quick egress from the area and access to essential equipment in case of emergency.
  • Label all hazardous chemical storage containers (see NMSU Chemical Container Labeling procedures).
  • Provide a definite storage place for each chemical and return the chemical to that location after each use to assist in maintaining a clean work environment and to ensure that segregation of incompatible chemicals is maintained.
  • Avoid storing chemicals on benchtops or in fume hoods, except for chemicals being actively used, to avoid clutter.
  • Avoid storing chemicals in chemical hoods, except for those chemicals being actively used, to avoid clutter and to maintain adequate airflow in the hood.
  • Provide ventilated storage near or beneath laboratory chemical fume hoods and store volatile toxic or odoriferous chemicals in ventilated cabinets.
  • Ensure storage containers of corrosive, flammable, or toxic chemicals are sealed to minimize the vapors escaping.
  • Chemicals that do not require ventilated storage cabinets should be stored inside closable cabinets or on shelves with a lip designed to prevent containers from sliding off in the event of a fire, accident, or earthquake.
  • Do not stored chemicals close to a heat source or in direct sunlight.
  • Store chemicals in a secure area or lockable storage to prevent unauthorized access to the materials.