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Electron Microscopy Sciences

Technical Data Sheets

Safety Precautions in Electron Microscopy Laboratories

EMS Safety Supplies


Treat all fixatives with respect, they will fix your tissue too.

Osmium Tetroxide

  1. Handle ampoules with disposable gloves.
  2. Use double bottles and seal with parafilm.
  3. Open only in a fume hood , and well-ventilated room.
  4. Do not hold your breath when using OsO4. Your nose is a very sensitive detector of dangerous fumes.


  1. Handle in fume hood.
  2. Acrolein-See Osmium precautions.


Some buffers (e.g. Cacodylate and Veronal) contain toxic components, and must be handled with caution. Use gloves at all times.

Propylene Oxide

A very volatile solution. Must be opened and used at room temperature. Never heat, store cool.

Embedding Resins

Most embedding resins may cause dermatitis.

  1. When preparing the mixtures and during embedding procedures, ALWAYS use disposable gloves.
  2. Cover working areas with paper towel or diapers and wipe spills immediately with alcohol.
  3. Do not use alcohol to remove resins from your skin, it increases penetration. Use soap & water.
  4. Get medical attention for any suspicious skin rash.
  5. Harden all waste resin before disposal, wrap discarded containers, beakers, vials, pipettes, etc. carefully.
  6. Never pour any plastic containing solutions (e.g., propylene oxide-epon mixture) down the drain. They will harden.
  7. Store in fume hood, until disposal, all hardened waste: RESINS, RESIN MIXTURE AND FILM MAKING SOLUTIONS (A coffee can or large bottle can be used).

Sharp Objects

Glass knives, razor blades and scalpel knives are still sharp after being used. Discard only in containers provided for that purpose, or well sealed, and labeled cardboard boxes, so cleaning personnel will not be injured.


  1. Most vacuum evaporators do not have a safety switch to turn off power before opening the bell jar. Follow the instructions on the equipment. Never observe metal evaporation without goggles. The intense brightness can burn your retina.
  2. Critical Point Dryers are potentially lethal. Do not observe them in use unless you understand the danger.

    Note: Never attempt to operate any equipment without prior instruction by other people in the lab or without reading the operation instructions carefully.

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Safety Precautions in Electron Microscopy Laboratories