ABC of Safety in the Biological Sciences - Aluminium Chloride

 

ABC of Safety in the Biological Sciences

 


 

ALUMINIUM CHLORIDE (AlCl3)

SYNONYMS
Aluminium trichloride, aluminum chloride, chlorure d'aluminium, trichloroaluminum.

CHARACTERISTICS
Orange to yellow, yellowish grey to white, hygroscopic powder which produces pungent odour of hydrogen chloride fumes in moist air.
INCOMPATIBILITY
Aluminium chloride is unstable and will absorb atmospheric moisture if not kept in a tightly sealed container. Aluminium chloride is incompatible with water or steam, when there is a violent reaction. Can react explosively with strong bases, active metals and polymerisable materials (eg. ethylene, ethylene oxide, allyl chloride). Heating produces toxic fumes of hydrogen chloride.
HEALTH HAZARD DATA
This is a very corrosive substance to all exposed body parts and an irritant to the respiratory tract. It reacts with moisture to form an acid solution, hydrogen chloride. It is exothermic and releases much heat when exposed to water or steam with a violent reaction. Acute exposure to the skin and eyes may produce redness and pain with a possibility of blurred vision. Inhalation may cause coughing, laboured breathing, choking and delayed oedema of the lung. Ingestion may cause burning, sore throat, abdominal pain and diarrhoea. Recent studies in Britain have suggested that a link exists between ingestion of aluminium and senile dementia. Introduction of aluminium compounds directly into the bloodstream may contribute to the development of neurological effects resembling senility.
HANDLING and GENERAL PRECAUTIONS
Avoid skin and eye contact.
Avoid inhalation or ingestion of the powder.
Keep the container lid tightly closed.
Open containers carefully to release any possible accumulated fumes.
Keep away from heat.
Keep away from moisture.
Wash hands thoroughly after handling.
Cover open sores and cuts.
To protect against acid fumes use a fume hood. Wear protective clothing; a long sleeved laboratory coat or gown, rubber gloves (PVC), safety goggles and a face mask as a minimum standard.
TREATMENTS
Skin ­ remove contaminated clothing and 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). If irritation or pain persist, or blisters develop, seek medical attention. Wash contaminated clothing before re­use.
Eyes ­ immediately 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, or vision becomes blurred, seek immediate medical attention.
Inhalation ­ remove from the area of exposure to fresh air. Keep warm and allow to rest. Seek immediate medical advice.
Ingestion ­ wash out the mouth thoroughly with water but do not induce vomiting. Give plenty of water to drink and seek immediately medical attention.
STORAGE
Store in a tightly sealed corrosion resistant container in a cool, dry atmosphere away from moisture, heat, direct sunlight and incompatible substances. DO NOT store in an area fitted with emergency water sprinklers.
DISPOSAL
Do not touch spilled material. Wear rubber gloves, safety glasses and laboratory coat.
SPILLS: Solid - collect in a beaker, place in a sealed, labelled corrosion resistant container. Dispose of by waste disposal contractor.
Solution - contain the spill. Cover with soda ash or inert absorbent material, mix and scoop into a beaker of water. Place in a sealed, labelled corrosion resistant container. Dispose of by waste disposal contractor.
PACKAGE LOTS: Add slowly to a large container of water. Stir in a slight excess of soda ash. Let stand for 24 hours. Decant or siphon into another corrosion resistant container and neutralise with 6M hydrochloric acid. Use a waste disposal contractor. The sludge may be added to land fill.
ENVIRONMENT
This substance is harmful to aquatic life and should not be disposed of to sewer.

 


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