ABC of Safety in the Biological Sciences
FORMIC ACID (HCOOH)
Methanoic acid, hydrogen carboxylic acid.
Clear liquid with a pungent odour.
Heating produces toxic fumes of carbon. Is incompatible with alkalis, ammonia, amines, oxidising agents and concentrated sulphuric acid.
HEALTH HAZARD DATA
Formic acid is a strong corrosive and an irritant to skin, eyes and mucous membranes. The vapour is also an irritant and corrosive. Severe burns can result from exposure. Chronic bronchitis, painful breathing, nausea, vomiting, dental erosion and sensitisation may also occur.
HANDLING and GENERAL PRECAUTIONS
Avoid skin and eye contact.
Avoid inhalation of the vapour.
Keep away from heat.
Keep away from oxidising materials.
Wash hands thoroughly after handling.
Use a fume hood to minimise exposure to this substance. Wear protective clothing. A long sleeved laboratory coat or gown, rubber gloves, safety goggles and a face mask as a minimum standard.
Skin immediately remove contaminated clothing and 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 persists seek medical attention. Burns will require 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 seek immediate medical attention.
Inhalation remove from the area of exposure to fresh air. If breathing has ceased apply artificial respiration. Keep warm and allow to rest. If irritation persists or develops seek medical attention.
Ingestion wash out the mouth thoroughly with water and give water to drink. Do not induce vomiting but seek immediate medical attention.
Store in a cool, dry atmosphere away from heat or incompatible substances.
Rubber gloves, face shield and laboratory coat. A body shield and self contained breathing apparatus should be available.
Eliminate all sources of ignition. Cover the contaminated surface with soda ash or sodium bicarbonate. Mix and add water if necessary. scoop up the slurry, check for neutrality with litmus then discharge to the sewer with a large excess of water. Wash the spill site with soda ash solution.
PACKAGE LOTS: Either
1 Liquid acid may be injected at the base of an incinerator after mixing with a flammable solvent. the incinerator should be equipped with an afterburner and scrubber.
2 A solid acid may be dissolved in a flammable solvent and burned as above.
3 A solid acid may be packaged in paper or other flammable material and burned in an incinerator equipped with an afterburner.