ABC of Safety in the Biological Sciences
SODIUM NITRITE (NaNO2)
Use a fume hood.
Avoid eye contact.
Avoid inhalation of the vapour.
Keep away from combustible material.
Keep away from heat.
Keep away from moisture.
Keep the container tightly closed.
Wash hands thoroughly after handling.
White to pale yellow deliquescent crystals.
HEALTH HAZARD DATA
Sodium nitrite is a suspected carcinogen and very toxic. It is an eye and respiratory tract irritant. Exposure causes cyanosis, nausea, vertigo, vomiting, collapse, spasms of abdominal pain, coma, convulsions and death. A prompt fall in blood pressure is a common sign of exposure, this reaction can be delayed.
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). 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 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 immediate medical attention.
Ingestion wash out the mouth thoroughly with water and give water to drink. Induce vomiting by touching a finger to the back of the throat. Seek immediate medical attention.
Mixtures with combustible materials are readily ignited and may burn fiercely. Mixtures with ammonium salts or cyanides may explode. Explosions occur when heated with ammonium salts, metal cyanides, phthalic acid or anhydride, sodium azide, sodium thiocyanate and other acids and organic materials. Heating produces toxic fumes of nitrogen compounds.
Store in a cool, dry atmosphere away from moisture and incompatible substances.
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.
Rubber gloves, face shield and laboratory coat. A body shield should be available for the more active agents. Replace the face shield with self contained breathing apparatus for such agents as chlorine and bromine.
Gas leak: if the valve is leaking because it cannot be closed, the gas can be bubbled through a reducer (sodium sulphite) and excess sodium bicarbonate solution. Be sure to include a trap in the line to prevent the solution being sucked back into the cylinder. If this cannot be done the cylinder should be placed in or adjacent to a fume hood and left to bleed off. If the leak is in the valve assembly, a plastic bag can be fastened over the head of the cylinder which can then be taken outside or to a fume hood.
Liquid or solid: cover with a reducer (sodium thiosulphate, a bisulphite or a ferrous salt not carbon, sulphur or strong reducing agent). Mix well and spray with water. A sulphite or a ferrous salt will require addition of 3mol/l sulphuric acid to promote a rapid reduction. Scoop the slurry into a container of water and neutralise with soda ash. Discharge to sewer with a large excess of water. Wash the site thoroughly with a soap solution containing some reducer.
Add to a large volume of concentrated solution of reducer (sodium thiosulphate, a bisulphite or a ferrous salt and acidify with 3mol/l sulphuric acid). When the reduction is completed add soda ash or dilute hydrochloric acid to neutralise the solution. Discharge to sewer with a large excess of water.