ABC of Safety in the Biological Sciences




None known.
Avoid skin and eye contact.
Avoid inhalation or ingestion of the powder or dust.
Keep away from heat.
Keep away from sodium chlorite.
Wash hands thoroughly after handling.
Colourless crystals or crystalline powder, no odour.
This substance is a severe eye and respiratory tract irritant and a corrosive. It will irritate the skin and may cause burns and dermatitis. It is very toxic, when inhaled as a powder or dust, or when ingested. It causes severe pain followed by collapse.
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 or burning persist or dermatitis develops, 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 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 or pain persist or signs of toxicity develop seek immediate medical attention.
Ingestion ­ wash out the mouth thoroughly with water and give water to drink followed by Milk of Magnesia. Seek immediate medical attention. Milk of Magnesia is available off the shelf from pharmacies. If oxalic acid is handled in your laboratory then Milk of Magnesia should be in your laboratory first aid kit.
Heating produces toxic fumes of carbon. Mixtures with sodium chlorite can explode when water is added to the mixture.
Store in a cool, dry atmosphere away from heat and incompatible substances.
Wear protective clothing to avoid skin or eye contact, inhalation or ingestion. The recommended threshold limit of exposure for oxalic acid is 1 mg/m3. Wear a long sleeved laboratory coat or gown, rubber gloves, safety goggles and a face mask as a minimum standard. If exposure is expected to exceed the recommended threshold limit then a respirator is recommended.
Rubber gloves, face shield and laboratory coat. A body shield and self contained breathing apparatus should be available.
Eliminate all sources of ignition. Cover the contaminated surface with soda ash or sodium bicarbonate. Mix and add water if necessary. scoop up the slurry, check for neutrality with litmus then discharge to the sewer with a large excess of water. Wash the spill site with soda ash solution.
1 Liquid acid may be injected at the base of an incinerator after mixing with a flammable solvent. the incinerator should be equipped with an afterburner and scrubber.
2 A solid acid may be dissolved in a flammable solvent and burned as above.
3 A solid acid may be packaged in paper or other flammable material and burned in an incinerator equipped with an afterburner.


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