ABC of Safety in the Biological Sciences - Borates

 

ABC of Safety in the Biological Sciences

 


 

BORATES

Ammonium hydrogen tetraborate

Lead metaborate

Lithium metaborate (LiBO2.2H2O). White powder.
Syn: Lithium metaborate dihydrate.

Di lithium metaborate (Li2B4O7).
Light, white powder.
Syn: Lithium tetraborate.

Potassium metaborate

Di potassium metaborate

Sodium metaborate (NaBO2.4H2O).
Syn: Sodium metaborate tetrahydrate.

Di sodium tetraborate decahydrate (Na2B4O7). Colourless crystals or white crystalline powder. Efflorescent in dry air.
Syn: Borax, sodium borate.
INCOMPATIBILITY
None known.
HEALTH HAZARD DATA
All of these compounds are toxic when ingested and cause eye irritation. Lead metaborate is also toxic when inhaled and its effects are cumulative. These compounds can cause desquamation, vomiting and diarrhoea with depression of the circulatory system and resulting in shock.
HANDLING and GENERAL PRECAUTIONS
Avoid eye contact.
Avoid inhalation or ingestion.
Wash hands thoroughly after handling.
Wear protective clothing to avoid 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). If any irritation or discomfort develops seek medical advice.
Eyes ­ immediately wash the affected eye with large amounts of water until all evidence of the chemical has been removed (approximately 15 minutes). If discomfort persists seek medical attention.
Inhalation ­ remove from the area of exposure to fresh air. Keep warm and allow to rest. If discomfort persists seek medical attention.
Ingestion ­ wash out the mouth thoroughly with water and then give a solution of magnesium sulphate (Epsom salts), 30 g in 250 ml of warm water, to drink. Seek medical advice. Epsom salts is available off the shelf in pharmacies. If borates are used in your laboratory then Epsom salts should be in your laboratory first aid kit.
STORAGE
Store in a cool, dry atmosphere.
DISPOSAL
SPILLS:
Solid - collect in a beaker, dissolve in a large amount of water. Add soda ash, mix and neutralise with 6M hydrochloric acid and discharge to sewer with large excess of water.
Solution - cover with soda ash, mix and scoop into a beaker of water. Neutralise with 6M hydrochloric acid and discharge to sewer with a large excess of water. If a spill contains a fluoride, add slaked lime in addition to the above treatment.
PACKAGE LOTS:
Add slowly to a large container of water. Stir in a slight excess of soda ash. If fluoride is present add slaked lime. Let stand for 24 hours. Decant or siphon into another container and neutralise with 6M hydrochloric acid. Discharge to sewer with a large excess of water. The sludge may be added to land fill.
ENVIRONMENT

 


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REFERENCES