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HANDLING AND DISPOSAL OF CHEMICALS IN LABORATORIES Robert Joyce and Blaine C. McKusick The following material has been extracted from two books prepared under the auspices of the Committee on Hazardous Substances in the Laboratory of the National Academy of Sciences – National Research Council. Readers are referred to these books for full details: Prudent Practices for Handling Hazardous Chemicals in Labo- ratories, National Academy Press, Washington, 1981. Prudent Practices for Disposal of Chemicals from Laboratories, National Academy Press, Washington, 1983. The permission of the National Academy Press to use these extracts is gratefully acknowledged. INCOMPATIBLE CHEMICALS The term “incompatible chemicals” refers to chemicals that can react with each other Violently With evolution of substantial heat To produce flammable products To produce toxic products Good laboratory safety practice requires that incompatible chemicals be stored, transported, and disposed of in ways that will prevent their coming together in the event of an accident. Tables 1 and 2 give some basic guidelines for the safe handling of acids, bases, reactive metals, and other chemicals. Neither of these tables is exhaustive, and additional information on incompatible chemicals can be found in the following references . 1 . Urben, P. G., Ed., Bretherick’s Handbook of Reactive Chemical Hazards, 5th ed., Butterworth-Heinemann, Oxford, 1995. 2. Luxon, S. G., Ed., Hazards in the Chemical Laboratory , 5th ed., Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, 1992. 3. Fire Protection Guide to Hazardous Materials, 11th ed., National Fire Protection Association, Quincy, MA, 1994. TABLE 1. General Classes of Incompatible Chemicals A B Acids Bases, reactive metals Oxidizing agents a Reducing agents a Chlorates Ammonia, anhydrous and aqueous Chromates Carbon Chromium trioxide Metals Dichromates Metal hydrides Halogens Nitrites Halogenating agents Organic compounds Hydrogen peroxide Phosphorus Nitric acid Silicon Nitrates Sulfur Perchlorates Peroxides Permanganates Persulfates a The examples of oxidizing and reducing agents are illustrative of common laboratory chemicals; they are not intended to be exhaustive. TABLE 2. Examples of Incompatible Chemicals Chemical Is incompatible with Acetic acid Chromic acid, nitric acid, hydroxyl compounds, ethylene glycol, perchloric acid, peroxides, permanaganates Acetylene Chlorine, bromine, copper, fluorine, silver, mercury Acetone Concentrated nitric and sulfuric acid mixtures Alkali and alkaline earth metals (such as powdered aluminum or magnesium, calcium, lithium, sodium, potassium) Water, carbon tetrachloride or other chlorinated hydrocarbons, carbon dioxide, halogens Ammonia (anhydrous) Mercury (in manometers, for example), chlorine, calcium hypochlorite, iodine, bromine, hydrofluoric acid (anhydrous) Ammonium nitrate Acids, powdered metals, flammable liquids, chlorates, nitrites, sulfur, finely divided organic or combustible materials Aniline Nitric acid, hydrogen peroxide Arsenical materials Any reducing agent Azides Acids 16-1
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