ABC of Safety in the Biological Sciences - Hydrogen Peroxide

 

ABC of Safety in the Biological Sciences

 


 

HYDROGEN PEROXIDE (H2O2)

SYNONYMS
None known.
GENERAL PRECAUTIONS
Avoid skin and eye contact.
Avoid inhalation of the vapour.
Keep away from heat.
Keep away from strong oxidising agents.
Wash hands thoroughly after handling.
CHARACTERISTICS
Clear, colourless liquid.
HEALTH HAZARD DATA
A strong oxidising agent and very corrosive. It is a severe eye and mucous membrane irritant. Acute exposure to the eye of the vapour causes irritation, a liquid splash causes very severe burns with loss of sight. A liquid splash to the skin will burn and bleach but there will be no permanent damage. Inhalation of the vapour will irritate the mucous membranes with coughing and shortness and breath. Ingestion of the liquid causes localised burning and severe irritation.
TREATMENTS
Skin ­ remove contaminated clothing and 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 persist 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, or vision blurs, 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. Seek medical attention if necessary.
Ingestion ­ rinse the mouth with water and give plenty of water to drink. Seek immediate medical attention if discomfort or pain persist.
INCOMPATIBILITY
Hydrogen peroxide is incompatible with: nitric acid ­ exothermic reaction, hydrochloric acid ­ chlorine is evolved, sulphuric acid ­ exothermic reaction. In the presence of oxidising agents, reducing agents or halogens, decomposition of hydrogen peroxide takes place with the evolution of oxygen. Readily decomposes in the presence of heat. If the container is tightly sealed an explosion may result from pressure build up.
STORAGE
Stability is affected by rough surfaces. The inside of any container used for the storage of hydrogen peroxide must be smooth. Metal containers are generally unsuitable. Store in a cool, dry atmosphere. Do not have the container tightly sealed.
HANDLING
Use a fume hood that will keep the level of exposure below the recommended threshold limit, ie. 1ppm (NH & MRC, Australia). If the level of exposure is expected to exceed 1ppm then a respirator is recommended. Wear protective clothing. A long sleeved laboratory coat or gown, rubber gloves, safety goggles and a face mask as a minimum standard.
DISPOSAL
WEAR:
Rubber gloves, large face shield and laboratory coat. A body shield should be available.
SPILLS:
Cover with at least double the volume of sand-soda ash mixture (90/10). Mix thoroughly and break up any lumps of peroxide.. with a plastic scoop add slowly to a large beaker of sodium bisulphite solution 93 or 4 litres) with stirring. Neutralise with dilute sulphuric acid. When settled, decant the sulphate solution and discharge to the sewer with a large excess of water. The sand can be used for land fill.
Hydrogen peroxide: spill or packaged lots - dilute and discharge to the sewer with a large excess of water.
PACKAGE LOTS:
Use the above method for the encrusted, impure peroxide. Repackage the recovered pure granular peroxide in glass containers with rubber stoppers.
ENVIRONMENT:

 


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