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Unformatted text preview: fluorine. It is too reactive to use as a reagent in a teaching laboratory. Chlorine also is a strong oxidizing
agent; only if you have received special instructions should you work with chlorine.
Bromine is a corrosive volatile liquid that causes serious burns on skin contact. It is a
lachrymator. Use it only in a laboratory hood.
Mercury. Spilled mercury evaporates, filling the air with toxic vapors. Mercury vapor
is a cumulative poison. If spilled, mercury will roll when it hits a hard surface, usually
breaking into droplets, some of which are too tiny to be seen. Even visible droplets can
adhere to smooth vertical surfaces; therefore, cleanup must be thorough.
Spilled mercury should be immediately and thoroughly cleaned up using an aspirator bulb or a special vacuum device. Do not use an ordinary vacuum cleaner; mercury
vapor passes through the paper or cloth bag. Such redispersed mercury vapor or
aerosol droplets would spread the vapor contamination further. Call your instructor
for help; a mercury clean-up unit is necessary to properly clean up the spill. Mercury
spilled into floor cracks can be made nonvolatile by amalgamation with zinc dust or
finely powdered tin—that is, if you could ever be sure that the particles of metal will
penetrate far enough into narrow cracks to reach the very tiny mercury droplets.
Strong bases. These substances are all corrosive and can cause serious, destructive
chemical burns, including blindness. Strong bases are insidious; even a concentrated
solution of a strong base often causes no pain until the corrosive damage is quite
severe. Although correctly classified as “dilute,” saturated solutions of strong bases,
such as Ca(OH)2, also are extremely corrosive.
Formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is a colorless, water-soluble, pungent, and irritating gas.
It is typically available as “formalin,” an aqueous solution of formaldehyde at concentrations varying from 37 to 56% and often also containing up to 15% methanol.
Formaldehyde is also sold in a polymer...
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- Spring '07