Health & Safety


Natural science collections provide challenges and hazards for their caretakers that may not be encountered with other types of collections. The hazards of some types of collections may be intrinsic with the dangers inherent in the materials themselves either originally or as the material ages. This includes the following:

Other collections have become problematic as treatments and materials, applied with the best of intentions by earlier museum staff eager to preserve organic materials, are now understood to have repercussions for the health and safety of both the collections and current museum staff.

The information on this site is designed to introduce some of the common hazards in natural science materials, and in some cases provide information with examples of how museum staff at the American Museum of Natural History and other institutions have successfully managed these materials through education and implementation of appropriate safety precautions.

Additional Resources

  • Information on personal protective equipment is also provided here
  • Download information on devising a hazardous materials testing and monitoring program [link to pdf]
  • Download tips on the safe disposal of potentially contaminated storage and rehousing materials [link to pdf – removal of hazardous waste]