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Prudent Practices in the Laboratory: Handling and Disposal of Chemicals
LABORATORY CHEMICAL SAFETY SUMMARY: ALUMINUM TRICHLORIDE
(Aluminum chloride, trichloroaluminium)
White crystalline solid
Sublimes at 181 °C
Reacts violently with water (90 g/100 mL)
Hydrogen chloride odor detectable when exposed to moist air
1 mmHg at 100 °C
LD50 oral (rat)
LD50 skin (rabbit)
Highly corrosive solid that reacts with water to form hydrochloric acid.
Aluminum chloride is strongly irritating and highly corrosive to the skin, eyes, and mucous membranes owing to its reaction with water to form hydrochloric acid. It is slightly toxic by ingestion but can cause severe burns to the mouth and digestive tract until hydrolyzed in the stomach. Inhalation of aluminum trichloride dust, vapor, or its hydrolysis products can result in severe damage to the tissues of the respiratory tract and can lead to shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, and headache; inhalation of large amounts may lead to respiratory tract spasms and pulmonary edema and can be fatal. Skin and eye contact with aluminum chloride can cause severe burns.
Aluminum chloride may cause allergic skin reactions. Long-term exposure can cause damage to lungs. In some animal tests, aluminum chloride has shown developmental and reproductive toxicity. Aluminum chloride has not been found to be carcinogenic in humans.
Flammability and Explosibility
Aluminum chloride is not flammable but reacts violently with water, so fires involving this substance should be extinguished with carbon dioxide or dry chemicals. Toxic fumes (HCl and reaction products) can be released during fires.
Reactivity and Incompatibility
Anhydrous aluminum chloride reacts violently with water to produce HCl and a great deal of heat. Aluminum chloride reacts violently on heating with nitrobenzene and may react violently or explosively with ethylene oxide, organic azides, organic perchlorates, and sodium borohydride. In the presence of moisture, this substance is highly corrosive to most metals.