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Hazardous Materials

Page history last edited by scifair@... 7 years, 3 months ago

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Anything Hazardous


These rules were developed to protect the researcher and others, real property and the environment, and to help students adhere to federal and international safety and biosafety regulations and best-practice.



1.    Projects using the following materials, equipment, items or situations are PROHIBITED except by ISEF applicants, AND must follow all VSSMF and ISEF Rules for Hazardous Materials. 



Biological Agents 

Examples:  The following materials are considered Biological Agents.  Projects using ANY Biological Agent(s) must be ISEF applicants.

  • microorganisms (including parasites,  bacteria, fungi, prions, viroids, viruses, and rickettsia )
  • recombinant DNA (rDNA) technologies
  • fresh/frozen tissues (including blood), or body fluids of humans or any other animals


Exceptions:  The following types of tissue do not need to be treated as Biological Agents, BUT still must follow VSSMF Rules for Anything Hazardous:

  • Healthy plant tissue
  • Established cell and tissue cultures (e.g., obtained from the American Type Culture Collection). The source and catalog number of the cultures should be identified in the Research Plan
  • Fresh meat or meat by-products obtained from food stores, restaurants, or packing houses
  • Hair
  • Teeth that have been sterilized to kill any blood borne pathogen that may be present. Chemical disinfection or autoclaving at 121 degrees Celsius for 20 minutes is a recommended procedure.
  • Fossilized tissue or archeological specimens
  • Prepared fixed tissue

Experimentation involving culturing of any Biological Agents is prohibited in a home environment.  



Hazardous Non-biological Materials

Examples:  The following materials are considered Non-Biological Materials that require the project to follow ISEF Rules for Hazardous Non-Biological Materials.

  • DEA-controlled Substances http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/schedules/schedules.htm
  • Prescription Drugs
  • Alcohol
  • Tobacco
  • Explosives (including fireworks, gun powder, and ammunition)
  • All radioactive materials
  • Any chemical with a Health OR Fire Hazard rating above 2.

Exceptions:  The following materials are not prohibited, BUT still must follow VSSMF Rules for Anything Hazardous:

  • Any other chemicals requiring DOT label for transportation
  • Small amounts of IPA or ethanol



Hazardous Items/Equipment

Examples:  The following materials are considered Hazardous Items/equipment which require the project to follow ISEF Rules for Hazardous Items/equipment.

  • Firearms, including potato cannons that use combustion of flammable materials as propellent
  • Explosive Devices (including fireworks, gun powder, and ammunition)
  • All Lasers
  • High-voltage electrical devices
  • Any item or piece of equipment or machinery that has the reasonable potential to cause serious injury or death when used properly.

Exceptions:  The following items/equipment are not prohibited, BUT still must follow VSSMF Rules for Anything Hazardous:

  • Household equipment (saw, drill, etc) when used properly
  • Potato cannons that use compressed air or water



 Hazardous Situations

Examples:  The following situations are considered HazardousSituations which ARE COMPLETELY PROHIBITED.

  • Any activity that poses greater than minimal risk to the researcher, others, real property or the environment
  • Any activity that produces prohibited hazardous materials, including burning stuff
  • Interactions with wild animals or agitated or unfamiliar domestic animals
  • Culturing (or introduction of) any biological agent(s) in the home/garden environment (See biological agents, above)

Exceptions:  The following situations are not prohibited, BUT still must follow VSSMF Rules for Anything Hazardous:

  • The generation of small amounts of oxygen and hydrogen due to electrolysis
  • The generation of ethanol from yeast fermentation



2.    Projects involving any materials, equipment, items or situations that might reasonably considered hazardous must follow these rules, even if not specifically mentioned above. 


3.    The use of hazardous chemicals and devices require direct supervision by a Designated Supervisor or Qualified Scientist.


Definitions:   A Qualified Scientist is an adult who possesses an earned advanced degree in the physical sciences.   A Designated Supervisor is an adult who is directly responsible for overseeing student experimentation, and must be highly trained in the student’s specific area of research.   All persons supervising student research involving hazardous materials or equipment must be thoroughly familiar with the local, state, and federal regulations that govern the proper handling and disposal of materials and/or use of equipment, and must be thoroughly familiar with the student’s project.



4.    When developing the Research Plan, student researchers must evaluate the risks to themselves, others, and the environment in collaboration with a Designated Supervisor or Qualified Scientist prior to experimentation. A written Risk Assessment is required for every experiment involving anything hazardous, and must be available for inspection at the fair.

  • Refer to Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) of all chemicals to identify risks and ensure that proper safety precautions are taken.  MSDS sheets must be included with risk assessment.
  • Identify all risk to self, others, real property and the environment
  • Identify all applicable laws governing the transportation, use and disposal of hazardous materials or items
  • Describe in detail how the materials/items will be aquired, used and disposed of.

  • Describe the safety procedures and equipment required to minimize risk.
  • Describe special emergency procedures necessary 


5.    Student researchers must acquire, use and dispose of all substances and devices in accordance with all local, state, U.S. federal and country laws.   For all chemicals, devices or activities requiring a Federal and/or State Permit, the student/supervisor will be expected to have the permit prior to the onset of experimentation. A copy of the permit must be available for review at the fair.


6.    The student researcher must design experiments to minimize the impact that an experiment has on the environment, for instance using minimal quantities of chemicals.  Whenever possible the following principles should be incorporated into the research plan.


  • Before you start, consider the safety of your procedures
  • Use safer materials and devices
  • Design less hazardous experiments
  • Have an emergency plan
  • Use renewable or recyclable  materials
  • Scale down your experiments
  • Increase energy efficiency, and reduce energy use
  • Prevent waste






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