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Prudent Practices in the Laboratory: Handling and Disposal of Chemicals
Chronic exposure to subacute levels of hydrazine can cause lethargy, vomiting, tremors, itching and burning of the eyes and skin, conjunctivitis, and contact dermatitis. Hydrazine has been found to exhibit reproductive and developmental toxicity in animal tests.
Flammability and Explosibility
Hydrazine is a flammable liquid (NFPA rating = 3) over a very broad range of vapor concentrations (4.7 to 100%). Hydrazine may undergo autoxidation and ignite spontaneously when brought in contact with porous substances such as rusty surfaces, earth, wood, or cloth. Fires should be extinguished with water spray, carbon dioxide, or dry chemical extinguishers.
Reactivity and Incompatibility
Hydrazine is a highly reactive reducing agent that forms shock-sensitive, explosive mixtures with many compounds. It explodes on contact with barium oxide, calcium oxide, chromate salts, and many other substances. On contact with metal catalysts (platinum black, Raney nickel, etc.), hydrazine decomposes to ammonia, hydrogen, and nitrogen gases, which may ignite or explode.
Storage and Handling
Because of its carcinogenicity, reactivity, and flammability, hydrazine should be handled using the "basic prudent practices" of Chapter 5.C, supplemented by the additional precautions for work with compounds of high chronic toxicity (Chapter 5.D), flammability (Chapter 5.F), and reactivity (Chapter 5.G). In particular, work with hydrazine should be conducted in a fume hood to prevent exposure by inhalation, and splash goggles and impermeable gloves should be worn at all times to prevent eye and skin contact. Hydrazine should be used only in areas free of ignition sources. Hydrazine should be stored under nitrogen in containers placed in secondary containers in areas separate from oxidizers and acids.
In the event of skin contact, immediately wash with soap and water and remove contaminated clothing. In case of eye contact, promptly wash with copious amounts of water for 15 min (lifting upper and lower lids occasionally) and obtain medical attention. If hydrazine is ingested, obtain medical attention immediately. If significant quantities of this compound are inhaled, move the person to fresh air and seek medical attention at once.
In the event of a spill, remove all ignition sources, soak up the hydrazine with a spill pillow or absorbent material, place in an appropriate container, and dispose of properly. Evacuation and cleanup using respiratory protection may be necessary in the event of a large spill or release in a confined area.
Excess hydrazine and waste material containing this substance should be placed in an appropriate container, clearly labeled, and handled according to your institution's waste disposal guidelines. For more information on disposal procedures, see Chapter 7 of this volume.