ABC of Safety in the Biological Sciences




None known.
Greyish­white crystals.
Highly flammable solid. Decomposes upon heating forming combustible hydrogen gas. Reacts violently with oxidising agents. Reacts violently and explosively with water, water vapour or steam.
Calcium hydride is a highly flammable solid and reacts violently and explosively with many substances including water and steam. It is a strong corrosive and irritant to skin, eyes, respiratory tract and gastrointestinal tract. Eye contact will cause redness, pain and blurred vision, damage may be permanent. Skin contact causes redness, pain and severe burns, particularly if the skin is moist. Inhalation causes sore throat, coughing, lung oedema and laboured breathing. Ingestion causes abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhoea. Serious cases of inhalation or ingestion may be fatal.
Avoid skin and eye contact.
Avoid inhalation or ingestion.
Keep away from heat or naked flames.
Keep away from moisture.
Wash hands thoroughly after handling.
Use a fume hood to minimise exposure to this substance. Use an explosion proof shield. 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). Burns will require immediate 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 or pain persist seek medical attention. If vision remains blurred 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 in a half­upright position. Seek immediate medical attention.
Ingestion ­ wash out the mouth thoroughly with water and give water to drink. Seek immediate medical advice.
Store in a cool, dry atmosphere away from moisture, incompatible substances and all sources of heat or ignition.
Rubber gloves, fire proof clothing and face shield. Work from behind a body shield. Keep available pulverised dolomite or dry graphite for fire fighting.
Eliminate all sources of ignition. Scoop spill into a dry plastic bag which has first been purged with inert gas. Remove to the outside for burning. flood the burned residues with water to ensure complete destruction of the hydrides.
1. Mix with dry sand to avoid or stop a fire. Scoop into a bucket and remove to an open area. Slowly spray with dry butyl alcohol. Later ad water by fogging until the last of the hydrides is destroyed. Scoop the solid into a large container. Neutralise with 6M hydrochloric acid and allow to settle. Decant and discharge to the sewer with a large excess of water. Send the sand residue to landfill. If the hydride is a gas, dispose of it by controlled burning.
2. Burn in an iron pan or an open pit.


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