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Introduction to Laboratory Chemical Storage II

  1. Introduction
    In the previous article, “Introduction to Laboratory Chemical Storage part 1” we took a look at the basics of a Chemical Hygiene Plan. This brochure will list chemical storage tips that will serve as reminders for your lab personnel or a quick guide to find possible chemical storage problems within your lab.
  2. Relevant Codes Recap
    The applicable code regarding chemical storage is the U.S. Department of Safety & Health Administration Standards -29 CFR 1910.1450 Subpart Z. This standard is most commonly referred to as “The Laboratory Standard.” The following information in this article will highlight many of the items in the standard but if you want the complete text you can consult the Code of Federal Regulations. The information concerning laboratory chemical storage is found in Part 1910 of Title 29 (cited as 29 CFR 1910) section 1450 of subpart Z, “Occupational Exposures to Hazardous Chemicals in Laboratories.”
  3. A Storage Methodology: Categorical Storage
    How you organize your storage space is vital to the overall effectiveness of your chemical storage plan. One method of storage that has wide acceptance is categorical storage. This is the storage of chemicals based on their inclusion in one of ten categories. The ten most commonly cited segregation classifications are: flammables, oxidants, reducers, concentrated acids, concentrated bases, water reactive, extreme toxics, peroxide formers, pyrophorics and gas cylinders.

    • The first five groups are separated to avoid accidental contact with an incompatible material which could result in a violent or explosive reaction.
    • Water reactive is isolated to lessen the probability of their involvement in a fire situation.
    • Extreme toxics are segregated to provide some degree of control over their distribution and to lessen the possibility of accidental spills.
    • Peroxide formers should be stored in a cool, dark environment, whereas pyrophorics need only contact with air to burst into flames.
    • Gas cylinders have the added hazard, regardless of their contents, of possessing high kinetic energy due to the compressed nature of the gas.

    There is not clear consensus on what and how many classes of chemicals should be segregated. To a large extent, how the chemical groups are divided and assigned will depend largely upon the amount of space available.

  4. Chemical Storage tips
    1. There are four major modes of entry into the human body for chemicals: 1. Inhalation. 2. Skin Absorption. 3. Injection. 4. Ingestion. Inhalation and skin absorption are the predominate occupational exposure you may expect to encounter in the laboratory.
    2. A place for everything and everything in its place. Every chemical in the laboratory should have a definite storage place and should be returned to that location after each use.
    3. Typically, solvents, acids, bases, reactives, oxidizers, and toxins will be stored separately. Separation refers to physical separation of containers and isolation of potential spills and releases. Separate cabinets or isolated areas within a central storage area should be utilized for segregated storage of incompatibles.
    4. Hazardous chemicals should never be stored on the floor. Containers should be kept on low shelves or in cabinets. The shelves should have a lip on the forward edge to prevent bottles from slipping off.
    5. Utilize a compatible/suitable container for experiments, stored, chemicals and collected wastes. In instances of corrosive wastes or solvents, the use of metal containers is often unsuitable, even if the solvents were originally shipped in metal containers. In these instances, plastic carboys or lined metal containers may be more suitable.
    6. Be on the lookout for any sign of chemical leakage. Containers storing chemical waste must be inspected weekly for any sign of chemical leakage. Containers of all types should be free of rest and dents.
    7. Caps and covers for containers shall be securely in place whenever the container is not in immediate use.
    8. NFPA labeling shall appear on cabinets and room doors at approximately waste level or lower to allow adequate visualization in dense smoke conditions.
    9. All containers used for storage (even short term) shall be labeled in accordance with hazard communication regulations and NFPA fire codes. At a minimum, all containers must be labeled with regard to content and general hazard.
    10. Metal drums used for storage and dispensing of flammable chemicals shall be properly grounded. Ground cables shall be available and utilized in any lab using metal storage containers for flammable liquid storage.
    11. Bulk quantities of chemicals (i.e. larger than one gallon) must be stored in a separate storage area. Transfer of flammable liquid from five gallon or larger metal containers may not be done in the laboratory.
    12. Liquid or corrosive chemicals should never be stored on shelves above eye level.
    13. Glass containers should not touch each other on shelves.
    14. Fume hoods should not be used as general storage areas for chemicals.
    15. Gas cylinders must be securely strapped to a permanent structure.

If you have any questions feel free to give me, Bruce Ciloski, a call. You can reach me at 832.256.0014 or email me at bruce@laboratorydesign.com.

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