Hazardous materials are chemical substances, which if released or misused, can pose a threat to the environment. These chemicals are used in industry, agriculture, medicine, research, and consumer goods. As many as 500,000 products pose physical or health hazards and can be defined as "hazardous chemicals." Each year, over 1,000 new synthetic chemicals are introduced. Hazardous materials come in the form of explosives, flammable and combustible substances, poisons, and radioactive materials. These substances are most often released as a result of transportation accidents or because of chemical accidents in manufacturing plants.

What Is a Home Chemical Emergency and a Major Chemical Emergency?

Chemicals are a natural and important part of our environment. Even though we often do not think about it, we use chemicals every day. They can be found in our kitchens, medicine cabinets, basements, and garages. Chemicals help us keep our food fresh and our bodies clean. They help our plants grow and fuel our cars. Chemicals make it possible for us to live longer, healthier lives.

A home chemical emergency arises when chemicals are used improperly. Some chemicals that are safe, and even helpful in small amounts, can be harmful in larger quantities or under certain conditions. In fact, most chemical accidents that occur in our own homes can be prevented.

A major chemical emergency is an accident that releases a hazardous amount of a chemical into the environment. Accidents can happen underground, on railroad tracks or highways, and at manufacturing plants. These accidents sometimes result in a fire or explosion, but many times you cannot see or smell anything unusual.

In the event of a major chemical emergency, you will be notified by the authorities. To get your attention, the university will activate the emergency notification system. It is possible that staff would receive a phone call from emergency personnel and be given instructions. University Police or other Officials may even come to your office with specific information.

These situations will be specific and will have specific instructions pertinent to the situation at hand.