ABC of Safety in the Biological Sciences




Isopropanol, dimethylcarbinol, IPA, N­propan­2­ol, PRO, propan­2­ol, isopropyl alcohol, sec­propyl alcohol.
Use a spark proof fume hood.
Avoid skin and eye contact.
Avoid inhalation.
Keep away from heat, sparks or naked flames.
Keep away from strong oxidising agent.
Do not pour down the sink.
Colourless liquid with a slight odour resembling a mixture of acetone and ethanol. Flammable liquid. Vapours are heavier than air and may travel a considerable distance to a source of ignition and flash back.
2­Propanol is a severe eye, skin and mucous membrane irritant and a central nervous system depressant. Death may occur from respiratory paralysis. Acute exposure of the vapours to the eyes can cause profuse lacrimation. A splash may cause irritation, burns and permanent corneal damage. It is absorbed through the skin causing narcosis with nausea, vomiting, hypotension, anaemia, uraemia, depressed respiration and coma. Inhalation at 20,000ppm causes dizziness, incoordination, headache, confusion, persistent nausea, haematemesis, abdominal pain, stupor, hypotension, anaemia, refractory narcosis, areflexia, depressed respiration, oliguria followed by diuresis and uraemia. Severe cases may cause coma. Ingestion causes the same symptoms with death possibly occurring from respiratory paralysis.
Skin ­ remove contaminated clothing and shoes 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). Seek medical advice.
Eyes ­ if eye contact occurs immediately wash the affected eye with large amounts of water until all evidence of the chemical has been removed (approximately 15 minutes). Seek medical advice.
Inhalation ­ immediately remove the patient to fresh air. Administer oxygen if required. Keep warm and allow to rest. Seek immediate medical advice.
Ingestion ­ get immediate medical advice. If medical attention is not available immediately and the victim is conscious attempt to induce vomiting by touching a finger to the back of the throat.
2­Propanol is incompatible with:
Strong oxidising agents ­ explosive mixtures.
Metal alkalis, e.g. aluminium, tri­isobutyl.
Phosgene ­ in the presence of iron salts may explode.
Trinitromethane ­ possibly explosive.
Hydrogen and palladium with 2­propanol vapour ­ flammable on contact with air.
Potassium tert­butoxide ­ ignites.
Dioxygenyl tetrafluoroborate ­ ignites at ambient temperatures.
Chromium trioxide ­ ignites.
2­Butanone ­ forms potentially explosive products.
Hydrogen peroxide ­ forms an explosive compound.
Oxygen gas ­ forms potentially explosive ketones.
Heating 2­propanol produces toxic oxides of carbon.
Do not pour waste material down the sink as it may produce a fire or explosion hazard.
Keep away from heat, sparks or naked flames. Store in a cool, dry, well ventilated area away from strong oxidising agents and incompatible substances.
Use a fume hood that will keep the level of exposure below the recommended limit, ie. 400ppm OSHA, TWA, NIOSH. Above this limit use a respirator.
If exposure is likely to exceed 800ppm over 15 minutes then wear a self­contained breathing apparatus. The fume hood should be spark proof. Wear protective clothing, a long sleeved laboratory coat or gown, rubber gloves, 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.


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