ABC of Safety in the Biological Sciences




Electrostatic charges represent a risk of ignition to flammable substances when they discharge. This form of charge can develop:

  • When non-conducting containers are filled with non-conducting liquids such as acetone, cyclohexane, diethyl ether, carbon disulphide and toluene.
  • With the rapid escape of gases containing solid particles such as rust or liquid droplets.
  • With persons who are insulated from the earth by shoes or floors of a non-conductive material.

The dangers from electrostatic build up can be minimised by adopting the following procedures:

  • Pour slowly and not from a great height.
  • Use combinations of equipment which all have the same conductive or non-conductive properties. For example, avoid using metal funnels with glass or plastic flasks.
  • Provide an electrical connection between conductive equipment and ensure that it is earthed.
  • Use a funnel with a stem that reaches to the base of the vessel being filled in order to avoid splashing or spraying the liquid being poured.


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