ABC of Safety in the Biological Sciences




None known.
Colourless liquid with a pungent odour.
Glutaraldehyde is incompatible with strong oxidising agents. The liquid can polymerise and should not be stored for longer than six months.
Toxic and a skin, eye and mucous membrane irritant. It can be absorbed into the body by inhalation of the vapour, ingestion of the liquid and through the skin. It affects the nervous system and serious cases have resulted in unconsciousness. It may cause allergic skin reactions. Acute exposure to the eyes causes redness and pain. Skin contact causes localised redness and may cause dizziness and dullness. Inhalation of the vapour can cause coughing, shortness of breath, dizziness and dullness. Ingestion may cause abdominal pain and nausea.
Avoid skin and eye contact, can cause dermatitis.
Avoid inhalation of the vapour.
Keep away from oxidising agents.
Wash hands thoroughly after handling.
Use a fume hood to keep the exposure level below the recommended threshold limit, i.e. 0.2 ppm ACGIH 1979. In the UK the maximum exposure level (MEL) was reduced to 0.05 ppm early in 2000. If exposure is expected to be greater than the recommended threshold then a respirator should be used. Wear protective clothing to avoid skin contact. A long sleeved laboratory coat or gown, rubber gloves, safety goggles and a face mask as a minimum standard.
Skin ­ remove contaminated clothing and shoes, immediately wash the affected area with large amounts of water until all evidence of the chemical has been removed (approximately 15 minutes). If irritation or pain persists or dermatitis develops seek medical attention.
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 the patient has stopped breathing apply artificial respiration. Keep warm and allow to rest. Seek medical advice.
Ingestion ­ rinse the mouth with water, give plenty of water to drink and seek immediate medical attention.
Store in a cool, dry atmosphere in the dark away from oxidising agents. Do not store for longer than six months.
Rubber gloves, self contained breathing apparatus and laboratory coat.
Eliminate all sources of ignition and flammables.
Small: absorb on a paper towel. Evaporate in fume hood and burn the paper.
Large: cover with sodium bisulphite. Add a small amount of water and mix. Scoop into a large beaker. Discharge to sewer with a large excess of water. Wash the spill site with a soapy solution.
1 Absorb on vermiculite. Burn in an open pit or open incinerator.
2 Dissolve in a flammable solvent (such as acetone or benzene). Spray into the fire box of an incinerator equipped with an afterburner.


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