ABC of Safety in the Biological Sciences




Phosphoric anhydride.
Very corrosive.
Avoid skin and eye contact.
Avoid inhalation of the vapour.
Keep away from heat or naked flames.
Keep away from water.
Keep the lid tightly closed.
Wash hands thoroughly after handling.
White, very hygroscopic crystals which deliquesces on contact with air.
An extremely corrosive substance which reacts violently with water to form phosphoric acid. It can be absorbed into the body by inhalation (fumes) or by ingestion (liquid). Contact with combustible substances may cause fire and explosion. Acute exposure to the eyes causes redness, burning, pain and blurred vision. Skin contact causes painful burns. Inhalation causes sore throat, coughing, shortness of breath and laboured breathing. Lung oedema may occur which can result in serious respiratory problems. Ingestion causes sore throat, abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhoea. Burning to the mouth and oesophagus will occur.
Skin ­ remove contaminated clothing, immediately wash the affected area with large amounts of water until all evidence of the chemical has been removed (approximately 15 minutes). If burning pain persists seek medical attention. Wash contaminated clothes 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 burning or pain persist seek immediate medical attention.
Inhalation ­ remove from the area of exposure to fresh air. Keep warm and sit in a half­upright position. Seek immediate medical advice.
Ingestion ­ rinse the mouth with water and give plenty of water to drink. Seek immediate medical attention.
Phosphorus pentoxide is incompatible with:
Water ­ violent reaction.
Strong oxidising agents, reducing agents and strong bases ­ many of these reactions cause fire or explosion.
Store in a tightly sealed container in a cool, dry atmosphere away from incompatible substances.
Use a fume hood to keep the level of exposure below the recommended threshold limit, ie. 1ppm. If levels of exposure are expected to exceed this limit then a respirator should be worn. Wear protective clothing. A long sleeved laboratory coat or gown, rubber gloves, safety goggles and a face mask as a minimum standard.
Rubber gloves, laboratory coat and self contained breathing apparatus. have a body shield available.
Cover the contaminated surface with sodium bicarbonate or soda ash-slaked lime mixture (50/50). Mix, and add water if necessary to form a slurry. scoop up the slurry and discharge to the sewer with a large excess of water.. wash the spill site with a soda ash solution.
Add slowly to a large volume of an agitated solution of soda ash and slaked lime until the solution is neutral. Discharge to the sewer with a large excess of water.


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