ABC of Safety in the Biological Sciences




Butanol, n­butanol, n­butyl alcohol.
Flammable, clear, colourless liquid with an irritating odour. The vapour is heavier than air and may travel a considerable distance along the ground to a source of ignition and flash back.
Butanol is incompatible with oxidising agents. Heating produces toxic fumes of carbon.
This substance is a flammable liquid and should never be stored or handled close to heat or a naked flame. It is an irritant to the eyes, skin and mucous membranes and is a central nervous system depressant. Prolonged exposure can damage the auditory nerve resulting in hearing loss and impaired balance. Acute exposure to eye causes redness and pain and can cause permanent eye damage. Skin contact causes localised irritation and prolonged exposure may cause dermatitis. The vapour is a narcotic and inhaling may cause headache, dizziness and drowsiness. Ingestion may cause nausea and vomiting. High concentrations can lead to central nervous system depression.
Use a fume hood.
Avoid skin and eye contact.
Avoid inhalation or ingestion.
Keep away from heat or naked flames.
Keep away from combustible substances.
Keep away from oxidising agents.
Keep the container tightly sealed.
Wash hands thoroughly after handling.
Handle in a well ventilated area that will keep the level of exposure below the recommended threshold limit, i.e. 50 ppm (vapour), 150 mg/m3 (liquid). If the level of exposure is expected to exceed these limits then a fume hood should be used or a respirator should be worn. Wear protective clothing. A long sleeved laboratory coat or gown, rubber gloves, safety goggles and a face mask as a minimum standard.
Skin ­ remove contaminated clothing then immediately wash the affected area with large amounts of water until all evidence of the chemical has been removed (approximately 15 minutes). If irritation persists or dermatitis develops seek medical attention.
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. If irritation persists or signs of toxicity develop seek immediate medical attention.
Ingestion ­ wash out the mouth thoroughly with water. Induce vomiting by touching a finger to the back of the throat. Seek immediate medical attention.
Store in a well ventilated, cool, dry atmosphere away from heat and incompatible substances.
Rubber gloves, face shield and laboratory coat. Have an all purpose canister respirator available.
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.
A gas - 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.


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