Reactivity and Incompatibility

Contact with many organic compounds can lead to immediate fires or violent explosions (consult Bretherick for references and examples). Hydrogen peroxide reacts with certain organic functional groups (ethers, acetals, etc.) to form peroxides, which may explode upon concentration. Reaction with acetone generates explosive cyclic dimeric and trimeric peroxides. Explosions may also occur on exposure of hydrogen peroxide to metals such as sodium, potassium, magnesium, copper, iron, and nickel.

Storage and Handling

Hydrogen peroxide should be handled in the laboratory using the "basic prudent practices" described in Chapter 5.C, supplemented by the procedures for work with reactive and explosive substances (Chapter 5.G). Use extreme care when carrying out reactions with hydrogen peroxide because of the fire and explosion potential (immediate or delayed). The use of safety shields is advisable, and is essential for experiments involving concentrated (>50%) solutions of hydrogen peroxide. Sealed containers of hydrogen peroxide can build up dangerous pressures of oxygen, owing to slow decomposition.

Accidents

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 hydrogen peroxide is ingested, obtain medical attention immediately. If large amounts 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 hydrogen peroxide with a spill pillow or absorbent material, place in an appropriate container, and dispose of properly. Respiratory protection may be necessary in the event of a large spill or release in a confined area.

Disposal

Excess hydrogen peroxide 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.



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