Policies at the PARADIM Crystal Growth Facility at the Johns Hopkins University

The PARADIM Crystal Growth Facility at the Johns Hopkins University is committed to a safe and effective working environment. The following safety guidelines must be reviewed, and acknowledged, by every user of the facility. Failure to follow these policies can result in a permanent ban on further access.

This webpage is not meant to be an exhaustive list of safety BEST practices. Rather, it is meant to highlight the most important points that cover most scenarios, and be a supplement to the following policies:

Remember that all users are required to certify that they have read all of the safety information on this page and in the three references listed above before showing up for an experiment. The acknowledgement form is available here: PARADIM/JHU Safety Certification

In the event of a safety incident, dial campus security at x67777 from any campus phone, or 410-516-7777 from any phone.

General Considerations

There are many possible hazards in the PARADIM Crystal Growth Facility, including chemical, radiation, fire, cryogenics and electrical. At a minimum, it is expected that:

  • Safety eyewear will always be worn
  • Labcoat will always be worn
  • Gloves will always be worn
  • Close-toed shoes will always be worn
  • Proper personal protective equipment will be used
  • Prior to using any equipment, user will obtain all necessary training
  • Proper waste disposal practices will be followed
  • All samples will be clearly labelled at all times; informational notecards (see next line) are REQUIRED. Unlabeled samples will be disposed of, no matter how valuable!
  • Notecards with all pertinent information about the current use of equipment will be displayed at all times
  • Workspaces and all equipment used will be cleaned up immediately after use
  • Toxic samples (see chemical safety below) MUST have orange dots/tape on BOTH the informational notecards AND the sample vials/containers at all times.

Required Training

  • Prior to any work, an introductory safety tour of the facility is required.
  • Training specific to each piece of equipment is required prior to use.
  • If working with any toxics (see chemical safety below), you MUST receive additional training from the authorized toxics trainer on proper workspace handling, cleanup, and disposal methods.

Equipment Use Notecards

While a piece of equipment is in use, there must be a notecard (or equivalent) that displays at least the following information:

  • Chemical(s) present
  • Associated hazards if warranted (e.g. “Warning: Toxic” and orange dot/tape for a thallium-containing sample)
  • Name or initials and PARADIM proposal number
  • Dates/Times of equipment use, with defined start and end dates
  • Operating conditions (e.g. furnace temperatures and times, atmospheric gas, hot plate settings, etc.)
  • Identity of equipment (e.g. furnace name, etc.)
  • Orange dot or tape for toxic specimens (see chemical safety below).

This policy exists not only to protect you and others in the facility, but also allows for a first responder to an incident (e.g. power outage) to identify malfunctioning or misbehaving systems. Anything without an associated notecard (or equivalent) may be removed or disposed of without warning.

Chemical Safety

General BEST practices are outlined in the ACS and University policies. Always consult Materials Safety Data Sheets for the chemicals you use. For solids, pay particular attention to the OSHA airborne particle concentration limits; do the calculation to see if your usage will exceed these limits, and, if so, stop and consult facility staff. Based on typical quantities and usage scenarios, the following general guidelines apply when using chemicals to make samples:

Asbestos Cadmium (Cd) and its derivatives (CdO, CdCl2, etc) Lead (Pb) and its derivatives (PbO, PbCl2, etc)
Chromium 6+ (Cr6+) compounds Mercury (Hg) and its derivatives (HgO, HgCl2, etc) Chromium 0,3+,4+ (Cr0,3+,4+) compounds
Arsenic oxides (AsOx) Arsenic (As) metal and compounds Nickel and its derivatives (NiO, etc)
Thallium oxides (TlOx) Thallium (Tl) metal and compounds Sulfur (S)/Selenium (Se)/Tellurium (Te) compounds
Osmium (Os) and its derivatives Selenium dioxide (SeO2) Antimony Oxides (SbOx)
Beryllium (Be) and its derivatives All others with an MSDS safety rating of “4” Firebrick, Aluminosilicates, Quartz Wool, Other High-Temp Insulating Materials

The items in column one should never be brought into the facility or used. You must obtain written permission from facility staff, as well as written documentation of having completed appropriate extra training, prior to using or bringing into the facility items in column two. You must also apply special handling, area cleanup, and waste disposal procedures, as the chemicals in column two are defined as particularly hazardous (toxic) for the purposes of this document. The items in column three can be used once you have discussed your approach with facility staff and completed appropriate training. Use of suitable NIOSH masks is encouraged for all chemicals on this list, irrespective of quantity, and required in some instances.

Solvent Bottle Safety

Squirt bottles should only be filled with the reagent whose name is embedded on the bottle (printed in blue, red, green, etc). You are not allowed to “relabel” a bottle by printing a label and putting it over the embedded name. For reagents where we do not have a squirt bottle with the appropriate embedded name, you must ask facility staff for assistance.

Cryogenic Safety

General BEST practices are outlined in the University policy. In addition to those requirements, at a minimum:

  • get training first,
  • ensure proper ventilation,
  • never disable safety pressure relief devices,
  • use appropriate clothing,
  • and never leave a transfer unattended,

when handling cryogenic gases (liquid Helium, Nitrogen, and Argon most frequently).

Radiation Safety

General BEST practices are outlined in the University policy. In addition to those requirements, all users of radiation-generating equipment must receive appropriate training on safety and use of that particular instrument prior to use. Work with radioactive materials is not allowed.

Fire Safety

General BEST practices are outlined in the University policy. Furnaces are the largest source of fire and burn hazards in the PARADIM Crystal Growth Facility. An important secondary source is the glassblowing torch. In addition to those requirements, at a minimum:

  • get training first,
  • always wear appropriate clothing,
  • NEVER MIX oxidizing agents (including perchlorates/perbromates/periodates) with organics or halides,
  • and never put anything flammable (kimwipes, acetone, etc) nearby,

when working with furnaces and the glassblowing station.

Electrical Safety

General BEST practices are outlined in the University policy. Furnaces are the largest source of electrical hazards in the PARADIM Crystal Growth Facility.

Other Considerations

  • NEVER disable safety interlocks or attempt to repair equipment yourself
  • Always do a worst-case “what-if” analysis prior to running any experiment: facility staff MUST assist you in this process
  • When in doubt, talk to facility staff first


University-wide HSE Policies
Chemisty Department Policies
American Chemical Society Chemical Safety Manual