ABC of Safety in the Biological Sciences




Terpolymer of polyvinyl butyral, polyvinyl alcohol and polyvinyl acetate.
White, granular, solid.
Dust mixed in sufficient quantities of air will form explosive concentrations. Can react violently with strong oxidising agents. Heating produces toxic fumes of carbon.
Butvar is only slightly irritating to eyes. Otherwise it is regarded as being non­irritating and non­toxic provided that good laboratory hygiene is followed.
Avoid eye contact.
Keep away from heat.
Keep away from oxidising agents.
Wash hands thoroughly after handling.
Wear protective clothing. A long sleeved laboratory coat or gown, rubber gloves, safety goggles and a face mask as a minimum standard.
Skin ­ immediately remove contaminated clothing 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). 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 or pain persist 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 develops seek medical attention.
Ingestion ­ wash out the mouth thoroughly with water and give water to drink.
Store in a cool, dry atmosphere away from incompatible substances.
Keep your stock low and date each container as received. Never transfer to glass stoppered containers or screw cap bottles which can cause dangerous friction. See code 15 for ether peroxides.
Rubber gloves, large heavy face shield and laboratory coat. Work under a flash proof fume hood and from behind a heavy body shield.
Eliminate all sources of ignition.
Liquid peroxide - spills may be absorbed in a large quantity of vermiculite or sand. Using a soft, plastic scoop, carefully place the mixture in a plastic container. Spread on a steel pan or in a deep pit. Ignite from a safe distance with a torch or fuse. Wash the scoop and container with 20% sodium hydroxide. Burn the original cartons and bags.
Solid peroxide - spills should be mixed with a large volume of vermiculite or sand. Cautiously transfer to a deep pit and ignite from a safe distance with a torch or fuse.
Small quantity - a very small amount of solid or liquid may be destroyed by adding 10 volumes of 20% sodium hydroxide. after 24 hours, neutralise using litmus paper as an indicator then discharge to the sewer with a large excess of water.
Absorb or mix in small portions of vermiculite or sand. Wet down with 10% sodium hydroxide. Scoop up with plastic scoops and remove to an open incinerator-pit. When dry, ignite from a safe distance with a torch or fuse.


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