ABC of Safety in the Biological Sciences - Acetonitrile

 

ABC of Safety in the Biological Sciences

 


 

ACETONITRILE (CH3CN) UN No. 1648; Hazchem 2WE

NEVER WORK ALONE WITH THIS SUBSTANCE, ALWAYS HAVE SOMEONE IN VIEW AT ALL TIMES WHO IS TRAINED IN THE TREATMENT OF CYANIDE POISONING.
SYNONYMS
Methyl cyanide, cyanomethane, cyanure de methyle, ethanenitrile, ethyl nitrile, methanecarbonitrile.
CHARACTERISTICS
Colourless liquid with a sweet odour. Flammable liquid and vapour. Combustion may produce toxic gases such as hydrogen cyanide.
INCOMPATIBILITY
Reacts explosively with strong oxidisers (perchlorates, nitrates). Can react violently with mineral acids and reducing agents. Reacts slowly with water or steam to produce highly toxic vapours of ammonia and hydrogen cyanide.
HEALTH HAZARD DATA
May be harmful if swallowed, inhaled or absorbed through the skin. It breaks down slowly in the body to release the cyanide ion. Symptoms can be delayed for several hours. May irritate skin, eyes and respiratory tract. Inhalation may cause respiratory tract irritation and pulmonary oedema, also symptoms similar to those under ingestion.
Ingestion may cause harmful central nervous system effects including excitation, euphoria, dizziness, drowsiness, blurred vision, fatigue, tremors, loss of consciousness, coma, respiratory arrest and death. May cause gastrointestinal disturbances including irritation, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea. Other effects include rapid pulse and breathing, chest pain, sweating and hypersalivation. May cause liver, lung and thyroid damage.
HANDLING and GENERAL PRECAUTIONS
Never handle unless another person is present.
Use a fume hood.
Avoid skin and eye contact.
Avoid inhalation or ingestion.
Keep away from water and steam.
Keep away from heat or naked flames.
Keep away from oxidising materials, acids and reducing agents.
Keep away from combustible substances.
Keep the container tightly sealed.
Wash hands thoroughly after handling.
Use a fume hood to minimise exposure to this substance. Wear protective clothing to avoid skin or eye contact, inhalation or ingestion. A long sleeved laboratory coat or gown, rubber gloves, safety goggles and a face mask as a minimum standard.
TREATMENTS
Skin ­ immediately wash the affected area with soap or mild detergent and large amounts of water until all evidence of the chemical has been removed (approximately 15 minutes). Seek medical advice. If hypersensitivity develops seek medical attention. Before laundering any contaminated clothing, notify he laundry of the contaminants hazardous properties.
Eyes ­ wash the affected eye with large amounts of water until all evidence of the chemical has been removed (approximately 15 minutes). If irritation or pain persist seek immediate medical attention.
Inhalation ­ remove from the area of exposure to fresh air. Keep warm and allow to rest. If irritation persists or signs of toxicity develop seek immediate medical attention. If breathing stops DO NOT GIVE MOUTH TO MOUTH RESUSCITATION but use other forms of artificial respiration.
Ingestion ­ wash out the mouth thoroughly with water and give water or milk to drink. Do not induce vomiting. Never give anything by mouth to an unconscious person. Seek immediate medical advice.
Oxygen is usually administered by trained personnel when cyanide poisoning occurs.
STORAGE
Store in a restricted, locked store that has a cool, dry atmosphere away from heat or ignition sources. DISPOSAL
Wear long rubber gloves, self contained breathing apparatus and laboratory coat.
Spills: Do not touch the spilled liquid. Prevent the liquid from entering the sewer. Eliminate all sources of ignition. Absorb the liquid with an inert spill compound. Place the compound into a suitable, covered, labelled container. Dispose of by disposal contractor. Usual method is high temperature incineration.
ENVIRONMENT:
Sufficient data is not available to assess the hazard to the environment.

 


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