ABC of Safety in the Biological Sciences




None known.
Avoid skin and eye contact.
Avoid inhalation or ingestion.
Keep away from heat.
Wash hands thoroughly after handling.
White crystalline powder.
Sodium sulphite is corrosive to the eyes, skin and respiratory tract. Eye contact will cause redness, pain and blurred vision. Skin contact will cause redness, pain and skin burns. Inhalation causes sore throat, coughing, shortness of breath and potentially fatal lung oedema. Lung oedema may not develop until a few hours have passed after exposure. Ingestion causes abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhoea and kidney damage.
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 or pain persist 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 or pain persist or vision does not clear, 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 in a half­upright position. Seek medical attention.
Ingestion ­ wash out the mouth thoroughly with water and give water to drink. Seek immediate medical attention.
Acids and heating produces toxic fumes of sulphur dioxide.
Store in a cool, dry atmosphere away from heat and acids.
Use a fume hood to minimise exposure to this substance. 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.


BACK to the top of the Glossary Contents List
BACK to the top of the Chemical Contents List