ABC of Safety in the Biological Sciences




Many solvents are used in histopathology laboratories and all personnel should be aware of the potential dangers. To reduce the risk of a solvent fire, store only the minimum amount required close to the laboratory9, in metal, fire-proof cabinets, away from any source of ignition. Daily supplies can be drawn from bulk solvent stores ideally located in an isolated area, well away from other buildings. Carbon dioxide fire extinguishers must be placed near these stores.47 Ideally solvents should not be stored at low temperature but if this is necessary only refrigerators fitted with external thermometers and spark proof interior lighting should be used.125

Metal. explosion proof containers can be used as an alternative to fire-proof cabinets when only small volumes of solvent need to be stored.

This is an example of an explosion proof safety can

Special care should be taken to ensure that corrosive agents, (such as acids), are not stored with solvents, (such as acetone), as an explosion could result.

In all laboratories where solvents are used a 'SOLVENT SPILL KIT' should be available and proper disposal procedures must be observed. Generally waste solvents should be re-distilled or disposed of in high temperature incinerators. Commercial spill kits or universal spill products are quite suitable for containing laboratory solvent accidents.

Personnel affected by fumes should be removed to fresh air and medical advice obtained.


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