What do I do if I smell something sickening or alarming in the lab?

If you smell a sharp odor, taste a bitter gas or see a cloud hugging the ground:

  • Alert your co-workers
  • Evacuate
  • Call immediately UCLA's EH&S at (310) 825-9797 or 911

Other possible odors:

Natural gas; most often caused by a bunsenburner that was not turned off correctly or was left unattended

  • Alert others immediately and identify the source of the smell; turn off the bunsenburner
  • If the source cannot be located call immediately UCLA’s EH&S
  • If the smell is very strong and the source cannot be identified quickly, evacuate and call immediately UCLA’s EH&S

Bleach; typically used to disinfect areas or inactivate biohazardous material; the smell can sometimes be overpowering

  • Identify the source, often the sink, and flush or wash with plenty of water
  • Communicate with co-workers about minimizing bleach odor

Chemical smell due to an accidently left open chemical container. Sometimes solvents are not used in a chemical fume hood when they should be and thus a solvent smell lingers in the lab.

  • Communicate with co-workers about using solvents only inside the chemical hood.

Sewer gas smell caused by a dried drain if a sink has not been used for a while.

  • Flush drain with plenty of water

Smoke smell from someone smoking outside the building near the building’s air intake; the smoke then enters the lab from the exhaust.

  • Identify person and talk with him/her.
  • Notify your supervisor and have him/her talk with smoker
  • UCLA is a smoke-free campus, refer person to the UCLA Smoke-Free Resource Center

Unidentified odor with unknown source

  • Call UCLA’s EH&S and have them investigate