ABC of Safety in the Biological Sciences




None known.
Use a fume hood.
Avoid skin and eye contact.
Avoid inhalation or ingestion of the powder.
Keep away from heat.
Keep away from combustible substances.
Keep in the dark.
Keep the lid tightly sealed.
Wash hands thoroughly after handling.
Colourless, transparent crystals or white crystalline powder, odourless. Darkens on exposure to organic matter and light.
This substance is a strong oxidising agent and may cause a fire if in contact with a combustible material. It is a caustic substance and can cause burns and very toxic if ingested, the silver being absorbed into the blood stream followed by deposition in a variety of body tissues. It is a severe eye irritant.
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 or burns develop seek 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 persists seek immediate medical attention.
Inhalation ­ remove from the area of exposure to fresh air. Keep warm and allow to rest. If discomfort persists seek medical attention.
Ingestion ­ wash out the mouth thoroughly with water and give plenty of water to drink. Seek immediate medical advice.
Heating produces toxic oxides of nitrogen. Silver nitrate can form explosive products with ethanol. Causes ignition or explosion if mixed with charcoal, magnesium, phosphorus or sulphur. Ammoniacal solutions can precipitate highly explosive silver in the presence of alkali or glucose. Silver nitrate darkens in the presence of organic material on exposure to light.
Keep away from combustible material and store in a tightly sealed container, in the dark, in a cool, dry atmosphere away.
Use a fume hood that will keep the level of exposure below the recommended threshold limit, ie. 0.01 mg/m3. If exposure is expected to exceed this limit then a respirator is recommended. Wear protective clothing. A long sleeved laboratory coat or gown, rubber gloves, safety goggles and a face mask as a minimum standard.
The elements and their compounds should be dealt with separately. Special instructions should be sought from the supplier.


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