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Prudent Practices in the Laboratory: Handling and Disposal of Chemicals
Use caution when removing pullover shirts or sweaters to prevent contamination of the eyes; it may be better to cut the garments off.
Immediately flood the affected body area with warm water for at least 15 minutes. Resume if pain returns.
Get medical attention as soon as possible.
Discard contaminated clothes or have them laundered separately from other clothing.
For splashes into the eye, take these steps:
Immediately flush with tepid potable water from a gently flowing source for at least 15 minutes.
Hold the individual's eyelids away from the eyeball, and instruct him or her to move the eye up and down and sideways to wash thoroughly behind the eyelids.
Use an eyewash. If one is not available, place the injured person on his or her back and pour water gently into the eyes for at least 15 minutes.
Follow first aid by prompt treatment by a member of a medical staff or an ophthalmologist who is acquainted with chemical injuries.
5.C.11.5 Spill Containment
Every laboratory in which hazardous substances are used should have spill control kits tailored to deal with the potential risk associated with the materials being used in the laboratory. These kits are used to confine and limit the spill if such actions can be taken without risk of injury or contamination. A specific individual should be assigned to maintain the kit. Spill control kits should be located near laboratory exits for ready access. Typical spill control kits might include these items:
Spill control pillows. These commercially available pillows generally can be used for absorbing solvents, acids, and caustic alkalis, but not hydrofluoric acid.
Inert absorbents such as vermiculite, clay, sand, kitty litter, and Oil Dri®. Paper is not an inert material and should not be used to clean up oxidizing agents such as nitric acid.
Neutralizing agents for acid spills such as sodium carbonate and sodium bicarbonate.
Neutralizing agents for alkali spills such as sodium bisulfate and citric acid.
Large plastic scoops and other equipment such as brooms, pails, bags, and dust pans.
Appropriate personal protective equipment, warnings, barricade tapes, and protection against slips or falls on wet floor during and after cleanup.
5.C.11.6 Spill Cleanup
Specific procedures for cleaning up spills vary depending on the location of the accident, the amount and physical properties of the spilled material, the degree and type of toxicity, and the training of the personnel involved. Outlined below are some general guidelines for handling several common spills:
Materials of low flammability that are not volatile or that have low toxicity. This category of hazardous substances includes inorganic acids (e.g., sulfuric and nitric acid) and caustic bases (e.g., sodium and potassium hydroxide). For cleanup, appropriate protective apparel, including gloves, goggles, and (if necessary) shoe coverings should be worn. Absorption of the spilled material with an inert absorbent and appropriate disposal are recommended. The spilled chemicals can be neutralized with materials such as sodium bisulfate (for alkalis) and sodium carbonate or bicarbonate (for acids), absorbed on Floor-Dri ® or vermiculite, scooped up, and disposed of according to the procedures detailed in Chapter 7, section 7.B.8.
Flammable solvents. Fast action is crucial when a flammable solvent of relatively low toxicity is spilled. This category includes petroleum ether, pentane, diethyl ether, dimethoxyethane, and tetrahydrofuran. Other workers in the laboratory should be alerted, all flames extinguished, and any spark-producing equipment turned off. In some cases the power to the laboratory should be shut off with the circuit breaker, but the ventilation system should be kept running. The spilled solvent should be soaked up with spill absorbent or spill pillows as quickly as possible. These should be sealed in containers and disposed of properly. Nonsparking tools should be used in cleanup.
Highly toxic substances. The cleanup of highly toxic substances should not be attempted alone. Other personnel should be notified of the spill, and the appropriate safety or industrial hygiene office should be contacted to obtain assistance in evaluating the hazards involved. These professionals will know how to clean up the material and may perform the operation.
5.C.11.7 Handling Leaking Gas Cylinders
Leaking gas cylinders constitute hazards that may be so serious as to require an immediate call for outside help. Workers should not apply extreme tension to close a stuck valve. Personal protective equipment should be worn. The following guidelines cover leaks of various types of gases:
Flammable, inert, or oxidizing gases. The cylinder