ABC of Safety in the Biological Sciences




Methyloxirane, propylene oxide.
Colourless, flammable liquid with an ethereal odour.
Incompatible with strong oxidising agents, metal salts and strong bases. Heating produces toxic fumes of carbon.
This chemical is carcinogenic (Category 2 carcinogen, Worksafe Australia). The liquid and vapour cause eye irritation. Liquid splashes to the eyes will cause burns. Skin contact causes irritation, blistering and can cause severe burns. Rapid evaporation can cause frostbite. Inhalation can cause irritation and narcosis. The presence of odour is an indication that dangerously high concentrations of vapour are present. Ingestion causes corrosion, abdominal pain and spasm.
Carcinogen, handle with extreme care.
Flammable, keep away from heat and naked flames.
Avoid skin or eye contact.
Avoid inhalation or ingestion.
Keep away from oxidising agents.
Wash hands thoroughly after handling.
Wear protective clothing to avoid skin or eye contact. A long sleeved laboratory coat or gown, rubber gloves, safety goggles as a minimum standard.
Skin ­ immediately 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). If irritation persists or burns or blistering develops seek immediate medical attention. Remove contaminated clothing and wash before re-use.
Eyes ­ immediately wash the affected eye with large amounts of water until all evidence of the dye 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. Keep warm and allow to rest. If irritation develops and persists seek immediate medical attention.
Ingestion ­ wash out the mouth thoroughly with water and give two to four glasses of water to drink. Never give anything by mouth to a person that is not conscious. Seek immediate medical attention.
Store in a cool, dry, well ventilated atmosphere away from incompatible substances. Keep the container tightly closed.
Rubber gloves, large, heavy face shield (if any doubt also use a body shield) and self contained breathing apparatus.
Eliminate all sources of ignition. Absorb the spill on a paper towel. Evaporate from an iron pan in a fume hood that is flash proof. Allow time for the vapours to completely escape the hood vents, then burn the paper. If a large spill, absorb using larger quantities of paper or vermiculite. Then proceed as above.
1 Pour on the ground in an open area. Allow to evaporate or ignite from a safe distance by means of a long fuse.
2 Dissolve the waste in a high alcohol (eg. butyl), benzene or petroleum ether then incinerate.
3 If ether peroxides are present - DO NOT OPEN THE CONTAINER. Explosions have occurred when stoppers were removed or caps turned. Transport the can or bottle to an isolated area (eg. deserted quarry). Each container or bottle should be wrapped in padding material or packed in sawdust. At the site, uncover the containers and arrange a fuse. from a safe distance puncture the container near the bottom with rifle fire. Ignite the fuse. Always observe local regulations.
This substance has a low potential to affect aquatic life. it is expected to be biodegradable and is not likely to bioconcentrate. When diluted with water and released directly into the environment it is unlikely to cause a significant impact.


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