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Prudent Practices in the Laboratory: Handling and Disposal of Chemicals
personnel and destructive to equipment. The presence or inadvertent addition of water to the hot fluid of a heating bath is an example of such a hazard. Explosions can also occur when warming a cryogenic material in a closed container or overpressurizing glassware with nitrogen (N2) or argon when the regulator is incorrectly set. Violent physical explosions have also occurred when a collection of very hot particles is suddenly dumped into water. For this reason, dry sand should be used to catch particles during laboratory thermite reaction demonstrations.
5.G.2Reactive or Explosive Compounds
Occasionally, it is necessary to handle materials that are known to be explosive or that may contain explosive impurities such as peroxides. Since explosive chemicals might be detonated by mechanical shock, elevated temperature, or chemical action with forces that release large volumes of gases, heat, and often toxic vapors, they must be treated with special care.
The proper handling of highly energetic substances without injury demands attention to the most minute detail. The unusual nature of work involving such substances requires special safety measures and handling techniques that must be understood thoroughly and followed by all persons involved. The practices listed in this section are a guide for use in any laboratory operation that might involve explosive materials.
Work with explosive (or potentially explosive) materials generally requires the use of special protective apparel (e.g., face shields, gloves, and laboratory coats) and protective devices such as explosion shields, barriers, or even enclosed barricades or an isolated room with a blowout roof or window (see Chapter 6, sections 6.F.1 and 6.F.2). Before work with a potentially explosive material is begun, the experiment should be discussed with a supervisor or an experienced co-worker, and/or the relevant literature consulted (see Chapter 3, sections 3.B.2, 3.B.5, and 3.B.6). A risk assessment should be carried out.
Various state and federal regulations cover the transportation, storage, and use of explosives. These regulations should be consulted before explosives (and related dangerous materials) are used or generated in the laboratory. Explosive materials should be brought into the laboratory only as required and then in the smallest quantities adequate for the experiment (see Chapter 4, section 4.B). Insofar as possible, direct handling should be minimized. Explosives should be segregated from other materials that could create a serious risk to life or property should an accident occur.
5.G.2.1 Personal Protective Apparel
When explosive materials are handled, the following items of personal protective apparel are needed:
Safety glasses that have solid side shields or goggles should be worn by all personnel, including visitors, in the laboratory.
Full-length shields that fully protect the face and throat should be worn whenever the worker is in a hazardous or exposed position. Special care is required when operating or manipulating synthesis systems that may contain explosives (e.g., diazomethane), when bench shields are moved aside, and when handling or transporting such systems. In view of the special hazard to life that results from severing the jugular vein, extra shielding around the throat is recommended.
Heavy leather gloves should be worn if it is necessary to reach behind a shielded area while a hazardous experiment is in progress or when handling reactive compounds or gaseous reactants. Proper planning of experiments should minimize the need for such activities.
Laboratory coats should be worn at all times in explosives laboratories. The coat should be made of flame-resistant material and should be quickly removable. A coat can help reduce minor injuries from flying glass as well as the possibility of injury from an explosive flash.
5.G.2.2 Protective Devices
Barriers such as shields, barricades, and guards should be used to protect personnel and equipment from injury or damage from a possible explosion or fire. The barrier should completely surround the hazardous area. On benches and hoods, a 0.25-inch-thick acrylic sliding shield, which needs to be screwed together in addition to being glued, can effectively protect a worker from glass fragments resulting from a laboratory-scale detonation. The shield should be in place whenever hazardous reactions are in progress or whenever hazardous materials are being stored temporarily. However, such shielding is not effective against metal shrapnel. The laboratory hood sash provides a safety shield only against chemical splashes or sprays, fires, and minor explosions. If more than one hazardous reaction is carried out, the reactions should be shielded from each other and separated as far as possible.
Dry boxes should be fitted with safety glass windows overlaid with 0.25-inch-thick acrylic when potentially explosive materials capable of detonation in an inert atmosphere are to be handled. This protection is adequate against most internal 5-g detonations. Protec-