ABC of Safety in the Biological Sciences




None known.
Use a spark proof fume hood.
Avoid skin and eye contact.
Avoid inhalation of the vapour.
Keep away from heat or naked flames.
Keep away from oxidising materials.
Wash hands thoroughly after handling.
Colourless liquid with a pleasant odour.
This is a combustible substance which readily ignites when exposed to a naked flame. It is a skin and eye irritant and produces narcosis when the vapour is present and it is inhaled in high concentrations. There is very little data about its effects on the body when it is ingested but it is assumed that it will be harmful. The threshold level for exposure is 200ppm.
TREATMENTS Skin ­ remove contaminated clothing and immediately wash the affected area with large amounts of water until all evidence of the chemical has been removed (approximately 15 minutes). If irritation persists seek medical attention.
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 persists seek 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 signs of narcosis develop seek medical attention.
Ingestion ­ wash out the mouth thoroughly with water and give water to drink. If signs of narcosis develop seek immediate medical advice.
Methyl acetate can react vigorously with oxidising materials. Heating produces acrid fumes of carbon.
Store in a cool, dry atmosphere away from heat, naked flames or oxidising materials.
Take precautionary measures against static discharges. No naked flames and the receptacle holding the chemical must be earthed. Use a fume hood that is spark proof to keep the level of exposure below the recommended threshold level, ie. 200 ppm. If exposure is expected to exceed this level then a respirator must be worn. Wear protective clothing. A long sleeved laboratory coat or gown, rubber gloves (nitrile or neoprene), safety goggles and a face mask as a minimum standard.
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.


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