Dangerous chemicals



Dangerous chemicals are used in the laboratory centre directly or incorporated into reagent and stains.

This dangerous chemical include the highly inflammable ones likes ether or alcohols, highly explosives ones like phenol or sulphuric acid, toxic ones like formaldehyde solution, Cancinogenic, like benzidine or explosive ones like picric acid.

To minimise accident caused by chemicals, it is compulsory for manufacturers to label dangerous chemical with hazard symbols and supply simple instruction for use and storage.

It is also important to label clearly those reagent prepared from the dangerous chemicals.

The labelling should include the nature and strength of the reagent or solutions, date of preparation, expiring date and any other safety warning applicable.

It is advisable that only chemicals required for daily use should be kept in the main laboratories, and the others in the store room.

It is also recommended to examine the container periodically to detect in time any possible build off of pressure which may cause the container to burst.

Store rooms in which bulks stock of chemical are kept should be design to reduce the risk of fire.

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Fire extinguishers should be placed just outside the store rooms. They should also be well ventilated and adequately lit.

Radioactive substance require proper supervision of their storage as provided for by the law.

The preventions of hazard and accident due to dangerous chemicals and reagent lies mainly in the careful observations of safety precaution during handling and storage.

Flammable chemical

This chemical should be stored in fireproof metal box at ground level preferably in an outside, cold lock store.

Only small amount of flammable chemicals should be left inside The laboratory.

A container of flammable liquids should never be opened near an open flame.

A bottle of Ether should be open at least 3 meter away from naked flame "no smoking" rules must be enforce in the laboratory at all times.

Corrosive substance

Corrosive chemicals such as strong acid, eg. concentrated sulphuric acid or nitric acid and caustic alkalis eg. sodium hydroxide, potassium hydroxide should be stored at the floor level.

Never mouth pipette a corrosive liquid always use automatic pipetter dispenser.

Ice must be protected from the form of corrosive substance.

When mixing, acids should always be added slowly to water but never the reverse.

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In case of spillage wear protective footwear when cleaning up the area.

Wash acid and alkali Burns under a free stream of running cold water.

Toxic and irritating chemicals.

Toxic it chemicals are equally irritating and can cause death or serious ill-health if swallowed, inhaled or allowed to come in contact with the skin.

Some of this chemical cause irritation of the skin and mucous membrane.

Highly toxic chemicals such as potassium cyanide should be kept in locked cupboard.

Wear a protective gloves when handling a toxic substance. Always wash hand immediately after using a toxic or harmful chemical.

Chemicals such as formaldehyde or ammonia with an irritating or harmful vapour should be used in a fume cupboard or safety cabinets.

Always use an automatic pipetter or dispenser to measure a toxic chemical.

Carcinogenic chemicals

This chemical are capable of causing cancer when inhaled, ingested or when they come in contact with the skin. The chance of being affected depends on the length and frequency of exposure and the concentrations of the chemical.

The carcinogenic substance should be stored in a closed container. Wear protective gloves and a face mask when handling a carcinogenic chemical. Wash everything used in handling the carcinogenic chemical thoroughly in a cold water.


Explosive chemicals

An explosive chemicals are can explode as a result of heat, flame or frictions. Chemicals such as picric acid should be stored under water. Never leave such an explosive chemical in a dry state.

Radioactive chemicals

All areas where is the active material are stored or use must be posted with caution sign. Traffic in this area should be restricted to essential personnel only. The contaminations of laboratory equipment, glassware and work area should be routinely done on a regular basis.

Note: only properly trained personnel are allowed to work with radioactive chemicals such person must be regularly monitored to ensure that the maximum possible dose of radiation is not exceeded


Safety in the laboratory page 9 of medical laboratory science theory and practical.

By J Ochei and A Kolhatkar.

Published by Tata MC Green Hill publishing company limited New Delhi.


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