ABC of Safety in the Biological Sciences




Cellosolve, ethylene glycol mono­ethyl ether, ethyl icinol, oxitol.
Colourless liquid with a faint ether odour ­ sweet, musty.
Flammable liquid ­ keep away from heat and all sources of ignition. Heating produces toxic fumes of carbon.
This is a flammable liquid and should never be handled close to heat or a naked flame. It is a teratogen and foetotoxin and should never be handled by staff who are pregnant. Has decreased sperm counts in tests on laboratory animals. It is a toxic substance and a skin, eye and respiratory tract irritant. The vapour is also toxic and an irritant. It can be absorbed through the skin in amounts sufficient to cause toxicity. Inhalation of the vapour can cause headache, dizziness and nausea. Systemic effects include anaemia and liver and kidney damage. The threshold limit value (TLV) is 5 ppm.
Use a fume hood.
Not to be handled by staff who are pregnant.
Avoid skin and eye contact.
Avoid inhalation of the vapour.
Avoid ingestion.
Keep away from heat or naked flames.
Wash hands thoroughly after handling.
Use a fume hood to minimise exposure to this substance. 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). If irritation persists or signs of toxicity develop seek 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 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. Induce vomiting by touching a finger to the back of the throat. Seek immediate medical advice.
Store in a cool, dry atmosphere away from heat or ignition sources.
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 leak: 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.


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