ABC of Safety in the Biological Sciences
The hazard factor with dyes is often ignored, yet dyes pose a serious health threat. Many dyes are irritants, toxic, potentially or definitely carcinogenic. Dyes prepared in methanol or phenol are particularly toxic while aqueous solutions of some dyes will grow bacteria. Dyes dissolved in alcoholic solution are flammable. Therefore when preparing or handling a dye solution, take the same precautions that would be applied to any dangerous substance. These include wearing protective clothing, a long sleeved laboratory coat or gown, rubber gloves, safety goggles and a face mask as a minimum standard, using a fume hood if one is available and avoiding breathing in the dye dust and aerosols which may form.
Handling dyes which are carcinogenic, mutagenic, teratogenic or toxic should be avoided during pregnancy.
Dyes which are known to be hazardous are given in TABLE 6. The list is incomplete because there is little data available on many dye compounds. If the chemical nature of a dye is not known it should be treated as a dangerous substance.9