ABC of Safety in the Biological Sciences - Xylene

 

ABC of Safety in the Biological Sciences

 


 

XYLENE [C6H4(CH3)2]

SYNONYMS
Oxylol, dimethylbenzene, xylol.
GENERAL PRECAUTIONS
Avoid skin contact ­ causes dermatitis.
Avoid eye contact and inhalation.
Foetotoxic - should not be handled by staff who are pregnant.
Keep away from heat, sparks or naked flames.
Do not dispose of down sinks.
Use in a well ventilated area, preferably a fume hood with downdraft fume extraction.
CHARACTERISTICS
Light coloured or colourless mobile liquid with an aromatic 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
Xylene is a moderately flammable liquid. It can be toxic to embryo and foetus and may reduce fertility. The vapour is a mild eye and mucous membrane irritant, a primary skin irritant and a central nervous system depressant. Xylene defats skin causing drying and cracking. Xylene is absorbed slowly through the skin. Acute exposure to high vapour concentrations may cause severe eye irritation. A liquid splash to the eye can cause corneal burns. Inhalation may cause irritation to the nose and throat, headache, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, dizziness, incoordination, loss of balance, loss of appetite, irritable behaviour and possible unconsciousness. Coma and death may result from excessive exposure due to respiratory failure. Death has been reported in one case exposed to 10,000ppm for 18 hours. Ingestion causes burning in the mouth and stomach with nausea, vomiting, salivation and possibly haematemesis. Narcosis may occur when the symptoms are as for inhalation. Coma, liver and kidney damage may result. The narcotic effects of xylene are enhanced by the consumption of alcohol.
TREATMENTS
Skin ­ remove contaminated clothing and shoes immediately 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. 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 persists 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 and seek immediate medical attention.
Ingestion ­ if ingestion occurs, wash the mouth with water. Do not induce vomiting but seek immediate medical attention.
INCOMPATIBILITY
Nitric acid and sulphuric acid together ­ intense exothermic reaction.
1,3­dichloro­5,5­dimethyl­2,4­imidazolidindione ­ possible explosion.
Heating may produce toxic oxides of carbon.
Do not dispose of down the laboratory sink as this may cause a fire or explosion hazard.
STORAGE
Store in a cool, dry atmosphere away from heat or naked flames. Store in a well ventilated area away from incompatible substances.
HANDLING
Use a fume hood or well ventilated area that will keep levels of exposure below the recommended threshold limits, ie. 100ppm OSHA. For levels of exposure up to 1,000ppm a respirator is recommended. If levels of exposure exceed 1,000ppm a self­contained breathing apparatus is recommended. Wear protective clothing. A long sleeved laboratory coat or gown, rubber gloves (nitrile, acrylonitrile, viton or polyvinyl alcohol), safety goggles and a face mask as a minimum standard. Xylene softens and dissolves rubber gloves. Avoid skin contact as much as possible.
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
No data available.

 


BACK to the top of the Glossary Contents List
BACK to the top of the Chemical Contents List

REFERENCES