of other flammable materials if present in a fire. Fires involving peracetic acid can be fought with water, dry chemical, or halon extinguishers. Containers of peracetic acid heated in a fire may explode.

Reactivity and Incompatibility

Peracids such as peracetic acid are strong oxidizing agents and react exothermically with easily oxidized substrates. In some cases the heat of reaction can be sufficient to induce ignition, at which point combustion is accelerated by the presence of the peracid. Violent reactions may potentially occur, for example, with ethers, metal chloride solutions, olefins, and some alcohols and ketones. Shock-sensitive peroxides may be generated by the action of peracids on these substances as well as on carboxylic anhydrides. Some metal ions, including iron, copper, cobalt, chromium, and manganese, may cause runaway peroxide decomposition. Peracetic acid is also reportedly sensitive to light.

Storage and Handling

Peracetic acid should be handled in the laboratory using the "basic prudent practices" described in Chapter 5.C, supplemented by the additional precautions for work with reactive and explosive substances (Chapter 5.G). Reactions involving large quantities of peracids should be carried out behind a safety shield. Peracetic acid should be used only in areas free of ignition sources and should be stored in tightly sealed containers in areas separate from oxidizable compounds and flammable substances. Other commonly available peracids, such as perbenzoic acid and m-chloroperbenzoic acid (MCPBA), are less toxic, less volatile, and more easily handled than peracetic acid.


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 peracetic acid 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 peracetic acid solution with a spill pillow or a noncombustible absorbent material such as vermiculite, 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.


Excess peracetic acid 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. Peracids may be incompatible with other flammable mixed chemical waste; for example, shock-sensitive peroxides can be generated by reaction with some ethers such as THF and diethyl ether. For more information on disposal procedures, see Chapter 7 of this volume.

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