Hazardous Substances In Science

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1 Introduction Hazardous Substances In Science Many substances used in laboratories are potentially hazardous and certain precautions need to be taken during storage, handling, use and disposal. Such substances include solvents, paints, compressed gases, disinfectants, cleaning materials and laboratory chemicals. In a high school laboratory setting the likelihood of incidents, injury, and damage is high. Therefore, it is essential that the students are taught what can go wrong and how to prevent such events from occurring. Care must be taken to ensure that orientation is given to students particularly where the users are not scientifically trained. This is a brief introduction to some of the areas where students may be exposed to hazardous substances. Identified Risks and Hazards Common hazardous substances in the laboratory may include: Acids and chemicals Caustic substances Disinfectants Glues Heavy metals Copyright 2010 OnGuard Safety Training PTY LTD 1

2 Paint Pesticides Petroleum products Solvents The main risks posed by hazardous substances are: Carcinogens are chronically toxic substances - they cause damage after repeated or long-duration exposure, and their effects may become evident only after a long latency period. fire or explosion - either spontaneous, during mixing of chemicals, or due to the application of flame or heat inhalation of fumes and gases vapours or powders - resulting in asphyxia, anesthesia, intoxication, sensitisation or poisoning which may culminate in damage to internal organs such as the liver or kidneys absorption through the skin - causing damage to internal organs such as the liver or kidneys skin contact - causing surface damage, such as acid and alkali burns, or dermatitis eye contact - causing surface damage, such as acid and alkali burns, which may be irreversible, or conjunctivitis physical injury - caused, for example, by slipping on spilt liquids such as oils. Top Pre- operational Safety Adequate precautions must be taken when handling hazardous substances. Protective equipment plays an important role in safety and should be used as an adjunct to good practice, not as a substitute for it. Where corrosive chemicals, and/or those which are harmful by skin or eye contact are handled, there will be a requirement for: Copyright 2010 OnGuard Safety Training PTY LTD 2

3 Eye Protection - either safety glasses, goggles or face visors a readily available source of water, both for washing and diluting contamination, and eye wash stations. Chemically resistant gauntlet type gloves. Chemically resistant aprons - where large amounts of chemicals are being used or dispensed. Points to remember: Always wear appropriate eye protection (i.e., chemical splash goggles) in the laboratory. Wear disposable gloves, as provided in the laboratory, when handling hazardous materials. Remove the gloves before exiting the laboratory. Wear a full-length, long-sleeved laboratory coat or chemical-resistant apron. Wear shoes that adequately cover the whole foot; low-heeled shoes with non-slip soles are preferable. Do not wear sandals, open-toed shoes, open-backed shoes, or high-heeled shoes in the laboratory. Avoid wearing shirts exposing the torso, shorts, or short skirts; long pants that completely cover the legs are preferable. Secure long hair and loose clothing (especially loose long sleeves, neck ties, or scarves). Remove jewelry (especially dangling jewelry). Synthetic finger nails are not recommended in the laboratory; they are made of extremely flammable polymers that can burn and are not easily extinguished. Laboratories and preparation rooms should be provided with adequate, dedicated wash hand basins, soap, towels and supplies of suitable barrier creams. Operating Safely Handling Hazardous Liquids Copyright 2010 OnGuard Safety Training PTY LTD 3

4 Check the label to verify it is the correct substance before using it. Wear appropriate chemical resistant gloves before handling chemicals - gloves are not universally protective against all chemicals. If you transfer chemicals from their original containers, label chemical containers as to the contents, concentration, hazard, date, and your initials. Do not directly touch any chemical with your hands. Never use a metal spatula when working with peroxides. Metals will decompose explosively with peroxides. Hold containers away from the body when transferring a chemical or solution from one container to another. Use a hot water bath to heat flammable liquids. Never heat directly with a flame. Add concentrated acid to water slowly. Never add water to a concentrated acid. Do not return the excess to its original container, but properly dispose of it in the appropriate waste container. Never touch, taste, or smell any reagents. Never place the container directly under your nose and inhale the vapors. Never mix or use chemicals not called for in the laboratory exercise. Use the laboratory chemical hood, if available, when there is a possibility of release of toxic chemical vapors, dust, or gases. When using a hood, the sash opening should be kept at a minimum to protect the user and to ensure efficient operation of the hood. Keep your head and body outside of the hood face. Chemicals and equipment should be placed at least six inches within the hood to ensure proper air flow. Clean up all spills properly and promptly as instructed by the supervisor. Copyright 2010 OnGuard Safety Training PTY LTD 4

5 Dispose of chemicals as instructed by your supervisor. When transporting chemicals (especially 250 ml or more), place the immediate container in a secondary container or bucket (rubber, metal or plastic) designed to be carried and large enough to hold the entire contents of the chemical. Never handle bottles that are wet or too heavy for you. Handling Hazardous Solids Student must wear proper protective equipment when handling solid chemicals since it will predispose them to the same risk and hazards as from liquid chemicals. Always use a spatula to remove a solid reagent from a container. Heating Substances The actual heating element in any laboratory heating device should be enclosed in such a fashion as to prevent a laboratory students or any metallic conductor from accidentally touching the wire carrying the electric current. Laboratory heating devices should be used with a variable autotransformer to control the input voltage. The external cases of these have perforations for cooling by ventilation and, therefore, should be located where water and other chemicals cannot be spilled onto them and where they will not be exposed to flammable liquids or vapors. Ovens should not be used to dry any chemical sample that might pose a hazard because of acute or chronic toxicity unless special precautions have been taken to ensure continuous venting of the atmosphere inside the oven. Never operate microwave ovens with doors open in order to avoid exposure to microwaves. Never use a microwave oven for both laboratory use and food preparation. Do not use metal containers and metal-containing objects (e.g., stir bars) in the microwave. They can cause arcing. Mixing Substances Like other chemicals the order of mixing hazardous substances is important. Copyright 2010 OnGuard Safety Training PTY LTD 5

6 Following the direction given by your supervisor is a must. Changing this order will not only affect the readings, but also can cause fast reactions leading to an accident. Use of MATERIAL SAFETY DATA SHEETS Prior to any hazardous substance being used or distributed in the laboratory, the supervisor in control of the laboratory should ensure that all the students have read the MSDS and understand the correct procedures for the safe use, as well as the potential health effects and safety precautions. Students SHALL only use hazardous substances under the direct supervision of a (qualified) supervisor. MSDS will be stored in a location that is readily accessible to all students who handle or may be exposed to a hazardous substance. All MSDS are to be stored in a designated file or binder using a system that is organized and easy to understand. Spill Kits A spill kit should always be available in the laboratory preparation area. All staff including teaching staff should note where it is stored, they should also Copyright 2010 OnGuard Safety Training PTY LTD 6

7 be informed of the contents and how to use it. Maintenance Storage of Hazardous Substances Stock quantities of hazardous substances should be stored in a designated storage area or cabinet with limited access. Additional storage precautions (i.e., a refrigerator, a hood, a flammable liquid storage cabinet) may be required for certain compounds based upon other properties. Containers must be clearly labeled. Double containment should also be considered. This means that the container will be placed inside another container that is capable of holding the contents in the event of a leak and provides a protective outer covering in the event of contamination of the primary container. Containers should be stored on trays or pans made of polyethylene or other chemically resistant material. Persons transporting hazardous substances from one location to another should use double containment to protect against spills and breakage. Storage Containers Never use food containers for chemical storage. Make sure all containers are properly closed. After each use, carefully wipe down the outside of the container with a paper towel before returning it to the storage area. Properly dispose of the paper towel after use. Other chemicals, particularly acids, must not be kept in stores dedicated to flammable liquids. Cylinders Cylinders should only be moved on purpose made trolleys. They must be properly secured to wall, floor or bench mounted brackets within laboratories or workshops to prevent toppling and possible damage, preferably in corners of rooms away from circulation areas. They should be kept away from sources of heat, direct sunlight and combustible materials. Copyright 2010 OnGuard Safety Training PTY LTD 7

8 Waste Disposal Disposal methods will depend on the nature and quantity of hazardous chemical involved. Small amounts of relatively harmless, water miscible chemicals may be safely washed to a drain with copious amounts of water. Large amounts of hazardous chemicals, and water immiscible solvents such as the chlorinated hydrocarbons, must not be flushed away to a drain. If hazardous waste is produced, it must be: correctly packaged and labeled during storage and transportation transported only by a registered or exempt waste carrier sent to a facility with an appropriate license or permit Operating Procedures Labels Check the labels on containers and follow any handling instructions. Store chemicals in labeled containers (ideally their original container), with lids tightly closed. Copyright 2010 OnGuard Safety Training PTY LTD 8

9 Fume Cupboards Place large or bulky equipment near the rear of the fume hood. Large items near the face of the hood may cause excessive air turbulence and variations in face velocity. Do not use the hood as a storage device. Keep only the materials necessary for the experiment inside of the hood. Keep the hood sash clean and clear. Check area around the hood for sources of cross drafts, such as open windows, supply air grilles, fans and doors. Cross drafts may cause turbulence that can allow leaks from the hood into the lab. Extend only hands and arms into the hood and avoid leaning against it. Clean all chemical residues from the hood chamber after each use. All electrical devices should be connected outside the hood to avoid electrical arcing that can ignite a flammable or reactive chemical. Provide catch basins for containers that could break or spill, to minimize the spread of spilled liquids. Keep the sash completely lowered any time an experiment is in progress and the hood is unattended. Lowering the sash provides personal protection. Never use a hood to control exposure to hazardous substances without first verifying that it is operating properly. Copyright 2010 OnGuard Safety Training PTY LTD 9

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