LABORATORY CHEMICAL SAFETY SUMMARY: SILVER AND ITS COMPOUNDS

Substance

Silver and its compounds

(Argentum)

CAS 7440-22-4

 

Formula

Ag

 

Physical Properties

White metallic solid

bp 2200 °C, mp 961 °C

Insoluble in water

 

Odor

Odorless

 

Toxicity Data

PEL (OSHA)

0.01 mg/m3

 

TLV-TWA (ACGIH)

0.1 mg/m3 (silver metal)

 

TLV-TWA (ACGIH)

0.01 mg/m3 (soluble silver compounds, as Ag)

Major Hazards

Exposure to silver metal or soluble silver compounds can cause discoloration or blue-gray darkening of the eyes, nose, throat, and skin.

Toxicity

The acute toxicity of silver metal is low. The acute toxicity of soluble silver compounds depends on the counterion and must be evaluated case by case. For example, silver nitrate is strongly corrosive and can cause burns and permanent damage to the eyes and skin.

Chronic exposure to silver or silver salts can cause a local or generalized darkening of the mucous membranes, skin, and eyes known as argyria. The other chronic effects of silver compounds must be evaluated individually.

Flammability and Explosibility

Silver and most soluble silver compounds are not combustible. However, silver nitrate and certain other silver compounds are oxidizers and can increase the flammability of combustible materials.

Silver acetylide, azide, fulminate, oxalate mixtures, styphnate, tartarate mixtures, and tetrazene are all explosives and must be handled as such.

Reactivity and Incompatibility

Contact of metallic silver and silver compounds with acetylene may cause formation of silver acetylide, which is a shock-sensitive explosive. Contact with ammonia may cause formation of compounds that are explosive when dry. Contact with strong hydrogen peroxide solutions causes violent decomposition with the formation of oxygen gas.

Many silver compounds are light sensitive, and many have significant reactivities or incompatibilities, which should be evaluated before use.

Storage and Handling

Silver and silver compounds should be handled in the laboratory using the "basic prudent practices" described in Chapter 5.C. Individual silver compounds should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis to determine whether additional handling procedures for high



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