ABC of Safety in the Biological Sciences




Sodium hydrosulphite, sodium hyposulphite.
Avoid skin and eye contact. Avoid inhalation or ingestion.
Keep away from heat.
Keep away from moisture.
Keep the container tightly closed.
Wash hands thoroughly after handling.
White to off white crystals with a slight sulphur dioxide odour.
Sodium dithionite is mildly toxic and a skin, eye and respiratory tract irritant. This substance although not flammable has been known to spontaneously combust.
Skin ­ immediately remove contaminated clothing and 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). If irritation persists seek medical advice. 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 or pain persist 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 irritation persists or develops seek medical attention.
Ingestion ­ wash out the mouth thoroughly with water and give water to drink. Seek medical advice.
Sodium dithionite is incompatible with acids, oxidising agents and small amounts of water. Heating produces the toxic fumes of sulphur dioxide.
Store in a cool, dry atmosphere away from moisture and incompatible substances.
Wear protective clothing. A long sleeved laboratory coat or gown, rubber gloves, safety goggles and a face mask as a minimum standard.
Rubber gloves, safety glasses and laboratory coat. Work in a fume hood or wear a respirator.
Gas leak: eliminate all sources of ignition. If the valve is leaking because it cannot be closed, the gas can be bubbled through a calcium hypochlorite solution. Be sure to include a trap in the line to prevent the solution being sucked back into the cylinder.
Solid: cover the spill with soda ash or sodium bicarbonate. Mix and spray with water. If effervescent wait until the reaction is complete. Scoop into a large beaker and cautiously add an equal volume of calcium hypochlorite (the reaction may be vigorous). Add more water, stir and allow to stand for one hour. Dilute and neutralise the oxidised solution and discharge to sewer with a large excess of water.
If a gas, bubble into a soda ash solution. if a solid, mix with an equal volume of soda and water to form a slurry, use a large container. In either case add calcium hypochlorite. Add more water if necessary and allow to stand for two hours. Neutralise the oxidised solution then discharge to the sewer with a large excess of water.


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