ABC of Safety in the Biological Sciences




Tetrachloromethane, perchloromethane, carbon chloride, tetrachlorocarbon, methane tetrachloride, carbon tet, freon 10, halon 104, benzinoform.
Colourless liquid with an ethereal odour.
Carbon tetrachloride is incompatible with:
Metals such as sodium, magnesium, aluminium and potassium ­ explosive.
Ethylene ­ explosive when under pressure in the presence of an organic peroxide.
Burning wax ­ explosion.
Aluminium powder ­ explosive on impact.
Calcium hypochlorite ­ explosive on heating.
Potassium and its alloys ­ explosive.
Liquid oxygen ­ violent explosion.
Finely divided barium ­ violent explosion.
Lithium ­ violent explosion.
Fluorine ­ violent explosion.
Dimethyl formamide ­ violent reaction in the presence of iron.
Heating produces toxic fumes of phosgene, hydrogen chloride, chlorine and carbon.
This is not a complete list of incompatibilities.
A proven animal carcinogen, a suspected human carcinogen and mutagen. It is a highly toxic narcotic and central nervous system depressant causing possible unconsciousness, coma and death from respiratory failure. It causes permanent kidney and liver damage. It can be absorbed via the skin as well as by inhalation or ingestion. The consumption of alcoholic beverages enhances the toxic effect. Persons with a history of liver, kidney, central nervous system disease or alcoholism may be at an increased risk from exposure. Acute exposure to the eyes causes redness and pain with possible conjunctival damage. Skin contact causes defatting of the epithelium with the risk of infection and possible dermatitis. Headache and light­headedness may occur with long exposure. Absorption through the skin can occur in doses large enough to cause narcosis. Inhalation causes headache, dizziness, stupor, nausea and possible loss of consciousness. Ingestion causes nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, headache, stupor, renal damage and possible loss of consciousness. The estimated fatal dose in healthy adults is 5 to 10 ml but as little as 1 ml may prove fatal in adults with previous medical problems.
Mutagen, not to be handled by staff who are pregnant.
Suspected carcinogen, handle with extreme care.
Use a fume hood.
Avoid skin and eye contact.
Avoid inhalation.
Wash hands thoroughly after handling.
Heating produces toxic phosgene gas, chlorine and hydrogen chloride.
Use a fume hood that will keep the level of exposure below the recommended threshold limits, i.e. 2 ppm with a 1 hour ceiling NIOSH, 10 ppm OSHA and TWA. Above 100 ppm a respiratory is recommended. If exposure limits are expected to exceed 300 ppm a self­contained breathing apparatus is recommended. 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 shoes and clothing. Wash the affected area with large amounts of water until all evidence of the chemical has been removed (approximately 15 minutes). Seek immediate medical advice. 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). Seek immediate medical advice.
Inhalation ­ remove from the area of exposure to fresh air. If the patient has ceased breathing apply artificial respiration. If the patient is unconscious also apply artificial respiration until consciousness returns. Do not give enephrine or other stimulants. Give oxygen if the skin is blue or there is difficulty with breathing. Seek medical attention.
Ingestion ­ Get medical attention immediately. If medical attention is not immediately available and if the victim is conscious, attempt to induce vomiting by touching a finger to the back of the throat. Give oxygen if the skin is blue or if there is any difficulty breathing.
Keep tightly sealed in a well ventilated, cool, dry atmosphere away from heat or naked flames. Store away from incompatible substances.
Rubber gloves, laboratory coat and self contained breathing apparatus (or work in a fume hood).
SPILLS: Absorb on paper towels and allow to evaporate in the fume hood. Burn the paper. Wash the spill site with a soap solution.
PACKAGE LOTS: The toxic liquid compounds concerned here are insoluble in water and cannot be burned. purify the contaminated liquid by distillation and place the purified distillate back on the shelf.
Disposal of according to any local regulations.


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