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Prudent Practices in the Laboratory: Handling and Disposal of Chemicals
Reactivity and Incompatibility
Trialkylaluminum reagents are highly reactive reducing and alkylating agents. They react violently with air, water, alcohols, halogenated hydrocarbons, and oxidizing agents. These reagents are often supplied as solutions in hydrocarbon solvents, which are less hazardous than the pure liquids.
Storage and Handling
Trialkylaluminum agents should be handled in the laboratory using the "basic prudent practices" described in Chapter 5.C, supplemented by the additional precautions for work with highly flammable (Chapter 5.F) and reactive (Chapter 5.G) substances. Safety glasses, impermeable gloves, and a fire-retardant laboratory coat should be worn at all times when working with these compounds. Trialkylaluminum reagents should be handled only under an inert atmosphere.
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 trialkylaluminum compounds are ingested, obtain medical attention immediately. If any of these compounds are inhaled, move the person to fresh air and seek medical attention at once.
Any spill of trialkylaluminum will likely result in fire. Remove all ignition sources, put out the trialkylaluminum fire with a dry chemical extinguisher, sweep up the resulting solid, place in an appropriate container under an inert atmosphere, and dispose of properly. Respiratory protection may be necessary in the event of a large spill or release in a confined area.
Excess trialkylaluminum reagents and waste material containing these substances should be placed in an appropriate container under an inert atmosphere, clearly labeled, and handled according to your institution's waste disposal guidelines. Alternately, small quantities of trialkylaluminum reagents can be destroyed in the laboratory by experienced personnel by slow addition of t-butanol to a solution of the reagent in an inert solvent such as toluene under an inert atmosphere such as argon. The resulting mixture should then 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.