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Cold Room Guidelines

What is a Cold Room?

Cold rooms are walk-in spaces used by researchers to keep research materials below room temperature.  In most cases, the air in these rooms are 100% recirculated.  Old air is not exhausted, or no new air is introduced unless the door is opened.  Due to this, cold rooms present unique hazards and guidelines need to be followed to ensure safety.  

To Prevent Common Cold Room Issues Researchers should:

  • Post a Hazard Communication sign on the door.  They can be ordered through EHS.
  • Ensure all items are labeled with the Researcher name, PI name and date.
  • Use storage shelves made of stainless steel or plastic.  Stainless steel shelves permit airflow throughout the entire cold room 
  • Do not store cardboard or Styrofoam in a cold room.
  • Dispose of waste into proper waste streams outside of cold room
  • Inventory cold room at least twice a year and remove items that are no longer needed, are expired, or are moldy.
  • Promptly clean up all spilled liquids including buffers and media.  Regularly clean all surfaces with an appropriate cleaner using a wet clean-up method damp cloth.
  • Do not use 100% bleach on metal surface due to pitting.
  • If 10% bleach is used as a cleaner, make sure to wipe down all metal surfaces with water, and dried.  
  • Do not dry sweep when cleaning, it may disturb and distribute mold spores throughout the space
  • Store paper products (kimwipes and paper towels) in a plastic container
  • Dispose of all trash (paper towels, tubes, etc) outside of the cold room
  • Keep the door firmly shut and minimize door opening to prevent condensation.
  • Limit storage in the space as too much clutter restricts air flow


What Activities are Prohibited when using a Cold Room?

  • No storage of the following materials in a cold room
    • Cryogens- due to oxygen deficiency
    • Dry Ice- due to oxygen deficiency
    • Compressed gases other than air- due to oxygen deficiency 
    • Flammables- due to fire risk
    • Toxic Chemicals (including BME, formalin, chloroform)- due to hazardous atmosphere if spilled
    • Acids- due to damage to cold room or compressor
    • Food or beverages- NO!  You are risking contaminating your food/beverages with lab materials.
  • No open flames


Oxygen deficiency-  be aware of oxygen deficiency symptoms including lightheadedness, confusion, lethargy.  Leave the room immediately.  Seek treatment

Mold Exposure- mold exposure may affect researchers differently.  Exposure may cause an allergic reaction or cause respiratory conditions to worsen.

Spills- If a spill is left to evaporate it, can create a more hazardous situation.


Report water leaks and mechanical issues in the cold room to