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Instructions for Cleaning Spills of Powdered Hazardous Drugs

Pregnant employees will leave the area during clean-up of powdered hazardous drug spills and return once the risk of aerosolization has passed.

If you have not been trained to use a particulate respirator , DO NOT attempt to clean up a spill of dry chemotherapy or other powdered hazardous drugs yourself. Instead:

  • Alert nearby persons about the spill.
  • Clear the area.
  • Call 911 to initiate OESO Chemical Spill Response.
  • Place warning signs on the door to the room where the spill occurred.
  • Contact maintenance to have them turn off the ventilation for the room. (This will help prevent the powder from being spread around the room or to other areas.) If the spill occurred inside a vertical flow hood/biological safety cabinet, maintenance should not turn off the exhaust fan for the hood.
  • Re-entry to the spill area will not be permitted until the Occupational and Environmental Safety Office spill responders have cleaned the area and verified that it is safe to resume work duties.
  • Following a spill inside a BSC, it must be decontaminated as described in Appendix C of the Hazardous Drugs Policy.

If you have been

  • Trained to use a HEPA-filtered Powered Air Purifying Respirator (PAPR), or
  • Trained and fit-tested to use a tight-fitting particulate respirator

AND have one available to you, you may clean up a powdered hazardous drug spill by following the procedures found below.

In addition to the respirator, you will need all of the equipment listed under the section, "Spills of Liquid Hazardous Drugs"


  • Put on N-95 respirator, half- or full-face air purifying respirator with HEPA cartridges, or a Powered Air Purifying Respirator (PAPR) equipped with a HEPA filter and a hood.
  • Put on safety goggles (unless wearing full-face respirator or PAPR), Tyvek gown and shoe covers (or coveralls), and two pairs of gloves.
  • Place warning signs around spill area if needed.
  • Place wet absorbent material over the spill to absorb/dissolve the dry material. Once there is no visible powder, remove the absorbent material and proceed with clean-up as outlined in the clean-up procedure for wet spills. The respirator may be removed once the wearer judges that there is no longer a possibility for aerosolization of wet or dry hazardous drugs. N-95 respirators should be discarded. Other respirators should be put in a ziploc bag and decontaminated before reuse. The cartridges should not be reused.

Hazardous Drug Spill Training is Available through OESO's Training Website