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Glossary of Common Laboratory Safety and Hygiene Terms
ACGIH
American Conference of Government Industrial Hygienists: a professional organization of industrial hygienists who work either in government or academe. It publishes, does educational work, and sets various health standards, such as TLVs. See TLV.
ANSI
American National Standards Institute: a private, non-profit organization that sets standards for safety equipment, medical devices, and a wide range of consumer and industrial products.
ACTION LEVEL
A specific concentration of a toxic substance in the air established by OSHA that when reached makes the performance of certain procedures necessary, e.g., monitoring the air, notifying all employees affected.
CARCINOGEN
A substance or agent capable of causing cancer.
CAS NUMBER
Chemical Abstracts Service Number: a number that uniquely identifies a chemical compound. The number is easily recognized by its characteristic three-part form--a two to six digit number on the left, separated by a dash from a two digit number to its right, which, in turn, is separated by a second dash from a one digit number to its right. Some examples are: 75-77-4, 936-49-2, 21742-00-7.
CFR
Code of Federal Regulations.
CORROSIVE
As defined by DOT, a liquid or solid that cause visible destruction or irreversible alterations in human skin tissue at the site of contact or has a severe rate of corrosive attack on steel.
DOH
Department of Health (NY)
DOT
US Department of Transportation: regulates transportation, including the transportation of hazardous substances. Can also refer to a parallel state organization such as the NY DOT.
EHM
EXTREMELY HAZARDOUS MATERIAL. Such materials are listed in Attachment V. They are orders of magnitude more hazardous than those listed as High Hazard Substances.
EH&S
Office of Environmental Health and Safety of the Health Science Campus of Columbia University in the City of New York. It is the department charged with the development and implementation of programs in industrial hygiene, laboratory safety, hazardous materials control, biohazards regulation, safety engineering and environmental protection for the Health Sciences Campus.
EPA
US Environmental Protection Agency: federal agency with environmental protection regulatory and enforcement authority.
EXPLOSIVE
A substance, mixture, or compound which is capable of entering into a rapid and violent reaction that produces a sudden local, dramatic increase in pressure, a shock wave.
HAZARDOUS MATERIAL
In a broad sense, a hazardous material is any substance which can cause harm as a result of its chemical properties, physical properties or both.
HEPA FILTER
High-Efficiency Particulate Air Filter.
IARC
International Agency for Research on Cancer: an international organization that conducts research on cancer and distributes information on different aspects of the subject.
IRRITANT
A substance which, by contact in sufficient concentration for a sufficient period of time, will cause an inflammatory response or reaction of the eye, skin, or respiratory system. The contact may be through a single exposure or multiple exposures. Some irritants: ammonia, calcium chloride, sulfur dioxide, sodium carbonate dust.
LFM
Linear Feet Per Minute: a measurement of air speed.
LSCHP
Laboratory Safety and Chemical Hygiene Plan.
SDS
Material Safety Data Sheet: a publication by the manufacturer or distributor of a hazardous material which gives toxicological information, safety information, physical properties, and health information on a product.
MUTAGEN
A substance or form of energy capable of altering the genetic material in a living cell and thereby changing the hereditary characteristics transmitted to its offspring.
NIOSH
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (Public Health Service, US Department of Health & Human Services [HHS]): federal agency which provides information on and does research in a wide range of industrial chemical and biological health hazards; tests and certifies respiratory protective devices and air sampling detector tubes; and recommends occupational exposure limits for hundreds of substances used in industry and agriculture.
OSHA
Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the US Department of Labor: federal agency with safety and health regulatory and enforcement authority for most US industrial and business organizations.
OXIDIZING AGENT
A chemical or substance which either (1) provides oxygen to a substance being oxidized (in which case, the agent has either to be oxygen or contain oxygen) or (2) receives electrons from the substance undergoing oxidation. (Chlorine is a good oxidizing agent by dint of its ability to remove electrons, even though it contains no oxygen.)
PEL
Permissible Exposure Limit: established by OSHA regulatory authority. It is the maximum concentration of a particular substance to which a worker can safely be exposed for a 40-hour work week (five 8-hour work days). May be a time-weighted average (TWA) limit or a maximum concentration exposure limit.
RCRA
Resource Conservation and Recovery Act: federal environmental legislation, administered by EPA, aimed at controlling the generation and treatment of hazardous wastes.
RTK
New York City Community Right-to-Know Law. Legislation designed to ensure workers and members of the community are provided with information on hazardous substances to which they may be exposed.
SELECT CARCINOGEN
The term, used in the OSHA Laboratory Standard 29 CFR Part 1910.1450, is defined there as a substance which meets one of the following criteria: "(i) It is regulated by OSHA as a carcinogen; or (ii) It is listed under the category, "known to be carcinogens" in the Annual Report on Carcinogens published by the National Toxicology Program (NTP) (latest edition); or (iii) It is listed under Group 1 ("carcinogenic to humans") by the International Agency for Research on Cancer Monographs (IARC) (latest editions); or (iv) It is listed in either Group 2A or 2B by IARC or under the category, "reasonably anticipated to be carcinogens" by NTP, and causes statistically significant tumor incidence in experimental animals in accordance with any of the following criteria: (A) After inhalation exposure of 6-7 hour per day, 5 days per week, for a significant portion of a lifetime to dosages of less than 10 mg/m3; (B) After repeated skin application of less than 300 (mg/kg of body weight) per week; or (C) After oral dosages of less than 50 mg/kg of body weight per day".
SOLUBILITY IN WATER
A term expressing the percentage of a material (by weight) that will dissolve in water at ambient temperature. Terms used to express solubility are:
 
Negligible Less than 0.1 percent
Slight 0.1 to 1.0 percent
Moderate 1 to 10 percent
Appreciable more than 10 percent
Miscible mutually soluble in all proportions
TERATOGEN
A substance or agent to which exposure of a pregnant female can result in gross malformations in the fetus.
TLV
Threshold Limit Value: a term used by ACGIH to express the airborne concentration of a material to which nearly all persons can be exposed day after day, without adverse effects. ACGIH expresses TLVs in three ways:

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