Contamination of food, drink, tobacco products, and cosmetics is a potential route for ingestion of a hazardous substance. University policy prohibits smoking in University buildings. Store, handle, and consume food and drink items in areas free of hazardous substances. Consider designating non-laboratory areas, such as nearby break rooms, lounges or conference rooms, as food storage and eating areas for laboratory personnel.

When you establish food areas within laboratory spaces, observe the following rules:

  1. Establish well-defined, fully outlined areas (including desks, cabinets, microwaves and refrigerators) within the lab space.
  2. Clearly post a sign designating the food item area(s) and instructing that no radioactive, chemical, or infectious materials are permitted. An example sign is available on the EHS website.
  3. Food item areas must be at least three feet from a laboratory work area or chemical storage area. In some instances, EHS may permit, upon evaluation, less than three feet if an appropriate barrier is in place. In other cases, three feet may be inadequate to prevent contamination of food items, e.g., laboratory operations with a high potential for aerosolization and volatilization of chemicals, radioactive materials, or biological materials. EHS does not permit food areas in rooms with such operations. The design of some laboratories may not allow for the designation of food areas.
  4. Wash food containers, dishes, and utensils only in sinks exclusively designated for food utensils. Wash laboratory glassware or equipment in separate sinks. Do not use glassware or utensils used for laboratory operations for food or beverages.
  5. Do not use laboratory refrigerators, ice chests, and cold rooms for food storage. Use separate, dedicated equipment with prominent labels that state “Food/Drink Use Only” or similar wording.
  6. Designated food item areas must be free from all research-related items, including personal protective equipment (e.g. lab coats, gloves, safety glasses). Laboratories can post this sign to remind personnel.
  7. Do not allow any chemical, radioactive, or biological materials storage above a designated food item area.