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

Date Updated

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.