ABC of Safety in the Biological Sciences




Perspex [CH2C(CH3)(CO2CH3)]2 (Polymethyl methacrylate) is available as a white powder or clear crystals which are shaped by heating.104

Once polymerised, perspex is not hazardous to handle except for the risk of abrasive injury caused from sharp edges. However, fine perspex dust produced during sanding, filing or drilling will cause damage to lungs with granulomas developing around the dust particles. Wearing a surgical mask whilst performing the above tasks will eliminate the danger.

Loose beads of perspex on a hard floor make the surface extremely slippery. These can also attach to the soles of shoes transposing the problem from one area to another. Removing of the dust as it is produced, using a vacuum evacuation system can eliminate this problem.

Perspex cements use a solvent which is both highly flammable and highly toxic. Continuous breathing of small quantities of vapours may have accumulative effect and cause serious illness. The area used for cementing must be well ventilated and have an air extraction system. There should also be some extraction at floor level as the vapours are heavier than air. When working with perspex protective clothing, comprising a long sleeved laboratory coat or gown, rubber gloves, safety goggles and a mask should be worn.


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