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Autoclave: Get the Lead Out

Learn about possible high levels of lead in autoclave tape, how to properly dispose of it, and lead-free alternatives.

Autoclave tape with diagonal stripes probably contains leadAutoclave tape used in many laboratories may contain levels of lead that exceed the hazardous waste limit for trash disposal.

Most lead-containing autoclave tape has stripes running across at an angle (/ / / / / /). The stripes appear light beige under normal conditions and darken in the autoclave when exposed to sufficiently high heat and pressure (see image at right). In some brands of tape, the color changing compound in the angled stripes may contain lead.

Tape that displays the word "Autoclaved" instead of angled stripes is most likely lead-free. The best way to determine if your autoclave tape contains lead is to check the Safety Data Sheet (SDS).

Help UC San Diego Get the Lead Out

Replace lead-containing rolls of autoclave tape with a non-lead containing alternative when you restock.

Lead-free choices include, but are not limited to:

  • Fisher Scientific – (#15-999-34B, 15-999-100A, 15-999-34A, 15-999-12A)
  • SPS Medical – Latex/Lead-Free Steam Indicator Tape, Product (#LF2-036, LF2-048)
  • VWR – VWR Autoclave Indicator Tape (VWR #73390-064)
  • VWR – Autoclave Indicator Tape, TimeMed Labeling (TSI-534, VWR #14217-334)
Questions? Contact EH&S chemical safety officer, (858) 822-1579.
Notice: UCSD Procurement & Contracts endorses all on-campus suppliers. Other suppliers listed on this page have reliably provided goods and services to UCSD in the past. However, UCSD Procurement & Contracts does not intend their inclusion to be an endorsement.