ABC of Safety in the Biological Sciences - Tetrahydrofuran

 

ABC of Safety in the Biological Sciences

 


 

TETRAHYDROFURAN [O(CH2)3CH2]

SYNONYMS
Cyclotetramethylene oxide, diethylene oxide, furanidine, hydrofuran, tetramethylene oxide, 1,4­epoxybutane.
GENERAL PRECAUTIONS
Avoid skin and eye contact.
Avoid inhalation.
Keep away from heat, sparks or naked flames ­ highly flammable.
Keep away from strong oxidants.
Store in a cool, dry place.
Vapour/air mixtures are explosive.
Do not pour down the sink.
CHARACTERISTICS
Colourless, highly flammable liquid with an ethereal odour. The vapour is heavier than air and may travel a considerable distance along the ground to a source of ignition and flash back.
HEALTH HAZARD DATA
A flammable liquid, the vapour forms explosive mixtures with air. It is a skin, eye, mucous membrane irritant and a central nervous system depressant. The substance may be absorbed into the body by inhalation and ingestion. Persons with a history of chronic respiratory or skin disease may be at increased risk from exposure. The use of alcoholic beverages enhances the toxic effects. Acute exposure to the skin and eyes may cause redness, pain and irritation. Inhalation at 20,000ppm causes nausea, dizziness, headache and loss of consciousness. Liver and kidney damage may occur. In addition, ingestion causes sore throat, abdominal pain and nausea. It is a narcotic and ingestion of large quantities may cause unconsciousness.
TREATMENTS Skin ­ remove contaminated clothing and 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). 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). Seek medical advice.
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 ­ if the victim is conscious give two to four glasses of water and induce vomiting by touching a finger to the back of the throat. Seek immediate medical attention.
INCOMPATIBILITY
Tetrahydrofuran is incompatible with strong oxidising agents with which there are violent reactions and occasionally explosive reactions. Sodium or potassium hydroxide ­ fire or explosion in the presence of peroxides. Sodium aluminium hydride ­ violent explosion. Lithium aluminium hydride ­ fire or explosion in the presence of peroxides. Heating produces toxic oxides of carbon.
STORAGE
Store in a cool, dry atmosphere away from heat or naked flames. Store away from strong oxidisers and incompatible substances.
HANDLING
Use a fume hood to keep exposure levels below recommended threshold levels, 200ppm OSHA and TWA. A respirator is recommended for exposure levels up to 1,000ppm. Self­contained breathing apparatus is recommended for exposure levels above 1,000ppm. 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, face shield and laboratory coat. Have an all purpose canister respirator available.
SPILLS:
A gas leak: keep the concentration of the gas below the explosive mixture range by forced ventilation. Remove the tank to an open area and allow dissipation to the atmosphere. Attempt to cap the valve outlet and return the tank to the supplier.
A liquid: absorb on paper. Evaporate in an iron pan in a flame proof fume hood then burn the paper.
A solid: sweep on to paper and place in an iron pan in a fume hood. Burn the paper and compound.
PACKAGE LOTS:
A gas leak: pipe the gas into an incinerator or lower into a pit and allow to burn.
A liquid: atomise into an incinerator. Combustion may be improved by mixing with a more flammable solvent.
A solid: make up packages in paper or other flammable material. Burn in the incinerator. Or the solid may be dissolved in a flammable solvent and sprayed into a fire chamber.
ENVIRONMENT:

 


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