Teaching Laboratories
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Please contact us if you don't see your questions answered here.
-- CHEM Teaching Labs Staff



Am I required to take the safety exam?  I'm in my first lab at UC San Diego, but I have taken general chemistry, organic chemistry, and physics labs at my Community College.  I have also taken the safety exam at the Community College.
..... Yes, all students in CHEM 7L, 7LM, 43A, 43AM, or 100A take the exam each time they enroll. Since you've trained before, you likely have a good grasp of basic lab safety, but you'll need to study our local Lab Rules. See the CHEM TEACHING LABS web pages for links to the Rules and other safety education resources (including a lab WORKSHOP), as well as directions to the exam itself.

I received a message saying I've passed the safety exam for this quarter. I'm good, right?
Check the letter carefully and see if it came from another department. When you enroll in a CHEM lab, you must take the CHEM safety exam, in addition to any required by other departments.

I passed the safety exam in another CHEM lab class; do I need to take it again?
..... YES:  all students in CHEM 7L, 7LM, 43A, 43AM, or 100A take the exam each time they enroll in one of these classes. So, it's time to review the reading materials (especially the new ones), watch the videos and take the exam again. Your knowledge of safety principles and the Lab Rules will be fresh and up to date.

I'm enrolled in two CHEM lab class and they each require the safety exam; do I need to take two exams?
..... YES, please:  all students in CHEM 7L, 7LM, 43A, 43AM, or 100A take the exam each time they enroll. We don't have the resources to search the rosters and make sure you've done the exam in another class. If you're not recorded as passing the exam, we'll be contacting you about it, so please do the exam twice, once for each class. Thank you.

I’m an extension (concurrent enrollment) student and I hope to get into a CHEM lab at the end of Week 1. What do I do about the safety exam?
..... Review the materials on our CHEM TEACHING LABS and the SAFETY EDUCATION web pages. You won't have access to the on-line exam; please email the Safety Coordinator with your particular information and we'll make an arrangement for you to take the exam.

I dropped my CHEM lab last quarter and now I am re-enrolled. I passed the safety exam then; do I need to take it for this quarter?
..... It's time to review the training materials and take the exam again. Your knowledge of safety principles and the Lab Rules will be fresh and up to date.


I can't take the exam on-line.
Students needing exam accommodation (such as an alternative format or extra time) for documented hardship or disability should contact the Teaching Labs Safety Coordinator, as soon as possible (and no later than the end of Week 1).

I'm having trouble accessing the exam in TritonEd.
Please contact Educational Technology Services (formerly ACMS) for access information.

I can't find the exam in my class page.
In TritonEd, you'll see several courses that you're enrolled in. Choose the LAB SAFETY TRAINING page for your class:

  • Lab Safety Training - CHEM 7L
  • Lab Safety Training - CHEM 7LM
  • Lab Safety Training - CHEM 43A
  • Lab Safety Training - CHEM 43AM
  • Lab Safety Training - CHEM 100A

I'm really busy in week 1 -- can I take the second exam instead?
No. The second exam (see CURRENT CALENDAR) is open to students who attempt and fail the first exam. No make-up time is planned for those who skip the on-line exam. Students who do not take the on-line exam during the test period may be dropped from the class.

I can’t find my score for the safety exam.
..... In TritonEd, check the MY GRADES section. It should give you a score; 80% (rounded to the nearest whole number) passes. 


I missed the on-line exam due to illness. Must I drop the class?
..... No. Please contact the Safety Coordinator with your particular information as soon as possible. 

Did I pass? Can you verify that I passed the lab safety exam? I received a 79.8%, and the minimum to pass is a 80% (rounded up to the nearest whole number). 
..... Please revisit the rounding rules.

I failed the on-line exam -- what can I do now?
..... Study again and take the second exam (see CURRENT CALENDAR). A student who FAILS at the first attempt (score <80%, rounded to the nearest whole number) may retain a place in class by passing a second exam (in person and on paper, 25 multiple-choice questions).  On the second exam, comments are invited and encouraged; partial credit is common.

Can I review my first exam to see what I missed?
..... Not really.   We teach and test 1200 – 1500 students in the first weeks of each quarter. We really don’t have a good mechanism to review individual results. Rather than looking back at a test you’ll never see again, concentrate on preparing for the real challenges in lab and plan to take the second exam (see CURRENT CALENDAR).

How can I prepare for the second exam?
Study the materials presented on our CHEM TEACHING LABS and the SAFETY EDUCATION  web pages.
..... Attend the REVIEW WORKSHOP for students taking the second exam (see CURRENT CALENDAR). Staff will be available to answer questions while students review together.

Do I need to sign up for the second exam?
..... No.
We will have the list of students who failed and we will expect you. 

  Do I need a Scantron form for the second exam?
..... No. For the second exam, bring your UC San Diego ID card, pencils and erasers; test forms will be provided. See CURRENT CALENDAR for test time & location.

Where do I find my result for the second exam?
..... Second exam results (PASS/FAIL only) will be posted to TritonEd as soon as they are available, often late on the same day.


Will my lab class meet in the first week?
..... Yes, usually.  Lab classes begin on the days noted (for each class) in the UC San Diego Schedule of Classes. Most classes meet on Day 1 or Day 2, depending on the lab schedule. Do not skip the first lab meeting; students who do not attend the first hour of the first meeting for a lab class lose their places in class.

I showed up for lab, but the TA says I’m not enrolled.
..... Stay calm.  You may be in the wrong lab room. Most of our lab classes have several sections which meet simultaneously in different rooms. Check your class schedule and assure yourself that you are in the correct room for your section. For further assistance, ask the lab staff in the CHEM Teaching Labs Stockroom (YORK 3150 or NSB 1104).

I’m on the waitlist for a lab class; can I sit in on the first day, so I don’t fall behind?
..... No. Safety considerations forbid anyone other than enrolled students attending lab sections without prior approval. Plan to attend the Instructor’s first lecture and study Lab Safety pages in the CHEM Teaching Labs website.

I’m a Concurrent Enrollment student and I’m hoping to add a lab class. Who do I see? Can I go to lab?  
..... Contact the staff in the CHEM Teaching Labs Stockrooms (YORK 3150); be prepared to say what class you want and what times you are able to attend. Concurrent Enrollment (Extension) students are added to classes (as space allows) at the end of Week 1.
Safety considerations forbid anyone other than enrolled students attending lab sections without prior approval. Do plan to attend the
Instructor’s first lecture.


I forgot my lab goggles. Is there a way to get an extra pair? Can I borrow a lab coat?
..... Your best option in either case is to purchase a replacement item at the Bookstore (in Price Center) or at the FIC Resale Shop on Library Walk. 

I forgot my hair tie & my TA won't let me work with my hair loose. Do I have to miss a day in lab?
..... No. Keeping your hair and clothing away from flames, equipment, and chemical contamination is smart (& required). Ask in the CHEM Teaching Labs Stockrooms (YORK 3150 or NSB 1104) for a rubber band.  

I own mostly skinny jeans, so my friend told me to wear sweatpants over them to be safe. Is this acceptable attire?
..... Skinny jeans are not recommended for lab work because a splash absorbed by the fabric will reach your skin faster than it would with looser pants. We recommend pants with some space between you and the fabric (such as your cotton sweatpants). In an emergency, you’ll have more time to react.

Is the rules about pants different for men & women?
..... Not really.
All the same conditions apply, so the same precautions are used. Everyone wears pants (or equivalent clothing).

I've heard in the past that Converse shoes aren't allowed either, so are they actually allowed in lab?
..... Shoes for lab must be closed over the whole foot (front, back, top); we recommend against absorbent materials. Some teachers have made this a firm rule, so check your class syllabus.

What is “equivalent” to long pants? Are thick leggings enough protection?

..... The issue is not the thickness of the fabric, but how the clothing allows you time to remove it in case of a spill. Leggings and skinny jeans fit so close to your skin that a spill will be on your skin almost immediately. Pants that hold some air between skin and cloth will allow you to remove the pants before the spill reaches your skin. If you need an alternative, have particular clothing needs or restrictions, please contact the Safety Coordinator.

Can I wear loose workout pants over shorts? They are kind of like wind-breaker pants or are only jeans acceptable?
..... Yes, and maybe. About wearing "pants over shorts," we are not concerned with what you wear under your clothing.
About "wind-breaker pants", we get concerned about the fabric; Nylon and other lightweight synthetic fabrics behave very badly in a fire – they melt and stick, transferring a tremendous amount of heat to the skin. Natural fabrics (cotton, wool, linen) will burn, but they're slow to start and easy to extinguish. Most likely, what you’ll find available will be blends of natural and synthetics – look for the ones that are mostly natural.


My TA says I have the wrong goggles. There are so many styles available - how can I get the right ones?
...... First, understand the choices available: 

  • Chemical splash goggles (see illustration) fit closely to the face, especially across the forehead, and are vented indirectly to prevent a splash from reaching the eyes. Goggles purchased for other activities may not be appropriate for chemical work. Ask the safety staff to be sure.
  • Safety glasses provide protection from impact (as from broken glass) but little protection from liquids splashed into the face; they are appropriate for dry lab work.

Chemical splash goggles are required when anyone in a work area is transferring more than a trivial amount of an eye hazardous substance. Note that everyone who might be affected by a spill in the area wears splash goggles until the procedure is completed, not just the person carrying or pouring the hazardous substance.

GOGGLES ONLY. For simplicity and for the greatest measure of safety, a lab class may (at the option of the Instructor) be designated a "goggles only" class. In recent terms, CHEM 7L and CHEM 43A/143A have been "goggles only" for all students, staff, TAs, Instructors, and visitors in these classroom. Check the class syllabus for current requirements.

goggles on a lab workergoggles on lab worker   chemical splash goggles   Goggles in Visionaire brand





In some laboratories, specific procedures with a high level of eye hazard are restricted to "goggles only" areas. There are cases where additional eye and face protection are warranted and face shields are available for these cases, but such cases rarely occur in student laboratories.

I forgot my lab goggles. Is there a way to get an extra pair? Can I borrow a lab coat?
..... Your best option in either case is to purchase a replacement item at the Bookstore (in Price Center) or at the FIC Resale Shop on Library Walk.


Where can I find Safety Data Sheets?

Safety Data Sheets (SDS), provide information about the composition and hazards of specific products. They were formerly called Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS).

SDS are available through multiple sources. Many chemical manufacturers provide SDS within their product catalogs.

ChemWatch is the primary SDS source at UC San Diego and it automatically recognizes a UC-affiliated computer. Students registered in CHEM lab classes have off-campus access; the necessary access information is avialble in your class's LAB SAFETY TRAINING site in TritonEd. Our primary chemical supplier is Fisher Scientific. Sigma Chemical is another good resource.

Once you've found a reliable source, bookmark it on your personal computer. Make an SDS folder on your computer and save the safety data page. Add to your SDS folder as you learn about new materials & build your collection for future review.  

Our EH&S Department provides references for:



Who can I call if I see a problem in lab?
..... Report anything that seems wrong to your Lab TA or your Instructor.
For an urgent problem that requires assistance (an injury or a hazardous condition, such as a broken pipe running water on the floor) call:


If the problem is not urgent, write a note and include:

  • date
  • room number
  • location (in a chemical hood? which one?) and
  • nature of the problem

Give the note to your TA. He or she will see that it is given to the Lab Staff and reported for repair.


Why are there so many water faucets in the lab?
.....Several kinds of water are provided in the labs – for distinctly different purposes. None of them is drinking water.

  • Industrial water is provided (hot & cold) to the main faucets to be used for general washing (soap should be provided as well). Do not drink or use this to wash food.

  • Deionized water (also called demineralized or DI water) is produced by a reverse-osmosis treatment system and is piped to lab sinks in non-metallic pipes. It is dispensed via spring-loaded valves to reduce waste. This water has a very low mineral content and is suitable to make most chemical solutions (check with your Instructor). Do not drink.

  • If distilled water is needed in your lab, it will be provided as well. Do not drink.

  • Domestic (drinking) water is provided to the eyewashes and emergency showers and to the sink-mounted drench hoses (where installed). This is the same water provided to rest rooms and drinking fountains (and to your home taps).

    sink-mounted drench hose

What is the extra shower hose at the lab sink?  

.....The item shown here is a drench hose. A sink-mounted drench hose is an extra emergency item, not a substitute for having a laboratory eyewash or emergency shower. Use the drench hose as a temporary measure to remove chemicals from eyes or skin.

Use the drench hose regularly to rinse the sink. Regular use flushes the water through the hose & removes contaminants from the nozzles. Use the flowing water to clean sink, rinse glassware, clean sponges, etc. Close covers when not in use.