What accommodation might be provided to students with chemical sensitivities in science labs?

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Some students have sensitivities to chemicals used in science labs. These sensitivities can range from allergies to one or two specific chemicals to a generalized condition such as Multiple Chemical Sensitivity.

A student with chemical sensitivities and their instructor can brainstorm alternatives that allow the student to participate as fully as possible in lab activities. Possible solutions include the following:

  • Utilizing portable hoods for demonstrations.
  • Providing the student with a filtration mask.
  • Substituting alternate chemicals in lab protocols.
  • Seating the student near a window that opens.
  • Using HEPA filters in the ventilation system.
  • Maintaining a lab environment which is free of other pollutants such as fragrances, toxic cleaning agents, and tobacco smoke.

When these accommodations are not sufficient to allow a student to participate, other flexible learning arrangements may need to be considered. For example, labs could be videotaped or students could complete computer-based simulations.

Last update or review: May 28, 2010