ABC of Safety in the Biological Sciences
Storage of Specific Classes of Chemicals
- Do not store excessive quantities of chemicals in any
- Purchase the minimum amount required for immediate local
- Regularly review the disposal of unneeded chemicals.
- Date bottles of chemicals when they are opened.
- Chemicals which produce peroxides such as diethyl ether
should be tested periodically or discarded according to set time
- Discard any chemical of dubious purity (by the usual waste
disposal procedures) if it cannot be purified safely.
- Store reagents on shelves or in cabinets. Store large
bottles of chemicals on the lowest shelves of any chemical
storage area. Ensure that bottles sit safely on a shelf and do
not overhang the edge.
- Do not store chemicals on benchtops where thay might be
knocked over increasing a risk of potential exposure to hazards
and to an exposed naked flame.
- Hoods should not be used for chemical storage. Hood storage
interferes with air flow in the hood, causes clutter, and
increases the fuel load in the event of a hood fire.
- Bottles containing chemicals (either reagents or waste
chemicals) should not be stored on the floor. Floor storage
presents a major safety hazard because bottles can break if
knocked over or struck together.
- Chemicals requiring refrigerated storage should be properly
labelled and sealed to prevent escape of any vapors. Use only
refrigerators designated for chemical storage, with spark free
fitments. Flammable liquids MUST be stored only in
explosion-safe refrigerators. Do not refrigerate chemicals
- Seal caps of open bottles of volatile chemicals using
Parafilm. This will prevent odor problems and deterioration of
air/moisture sensitive reagents.
- Periodically inspect chemicals in storage areas for damaged
containers such as cracked bottles or caps or rusted cans.
Replace loose or deteriorating labels.
- Provide separate storage areas for corrosive chemicals,
solvents, oxidizing agents, pyrophoric materials, and air- or
- Store acids separate from bases. Store ammonium hydroxide in
a separate cabinet, preferably ventilated.
- Store oxidizers, including oxidizing acids such as nitric
and perchloric acids separate from oxidizable compounds such as
acetic acid. Perchloric acid MUST be stored where it cannot
contact organic material.
- Store highly toxic chemicals in unbreakable secondary
containers labelled with a description of the contents. Cyanides
and sulfides MUST be kept safe from any contact with acids.
Store cyanides in a closed cabinet, not in a location visible to
passersby. Dispose of cyanides for which you have no current
- Store pyrophoric materials separate from flammable
materials, in a dry, inert atmosphere such as a nitrogen-filled
desiccator or a glove box.
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