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Chemical safety

The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 1999 (COSHH, updated 2002) require the use of chemicals in the workplace to be controlled.  If it is not reasonable or practical to prevent the use of a chemical the agent involved should be the least harmful that the nature of the activity will permit.  Furthermore, any potential hazards associated with the chemical and any control measures required must be identified using a COSHH form - available below

It is strongly recommended that you attend the course “COSHH Risk Assessment in Laboratories” (HS005) run by OHSD through CAPD before you complete the risk assessment and start any work.

COSHH risk assessment

Completing part 2 of this form will be of key importance. In order to do this:

  1. Visit the website www.sigmaaldrich.com
  2. Type in the chemical name in the search bar
  3. Click on MSDS next to the corresponding chemical in the search results
  4. Note the hazards - look for the 'H' and 'P' terms and pictograms
  5. Complete them on to the RA form
  6. Complete the rest of the RA
  7. Print a copy and keep it on file
  8. You should update the form when an experimental protocol changes

Chemical transportation

Transport of Winchesters of solvents

  • It is generally unadvisable to transport chemicals.  
  • Where transport is necessary you must carry solvents in Winchesters in a wire carrier. These are available from Joseph Priestly stores but must be returned immediately.
  • Where it is necessary (e.g. between department buildings) chemicals should be sealed and placed into suitable sealed secure containers. A suitable clean up kit should be taken.

Chemical disposal

The process for removing large quantities of chemicals during a laboratory clearance is:

  • Complete the OHSD form
  • Contact sbcs-healthandsafety@qmul.ac.uk to arrange for disposal
  • Chemicals should be boxed and in sealed secure containers
  • Avoid transporting chemicals that might react with each other

Experimental waste

  • The majority of chemicals must not be disposed of down the sink.  Where waste is considered non-hazardous because of its concentration, then it may be discharged to drain with copious amounts of running water
  • Work should be planned to avoid generation of hazardous waste wherever possible. Where the generation of hazardous waste is unavoidable, and until we can get specific permissions from Thames Water about which chemicals can be discharged to drain, then please follow the Environmental Agency’s guidance on classifying hazardous waste below.
  • No strong acids (<pH 6.0; threshold concentration >/= 5% or for those causing severe burns >/= 1%) or corrosive substances(similar pH limits and thresholds) are allowed to be discharged to drain
  • The definitions and hazardous thresholds for each of the key Risk Phrases are given below, with further detail to be found within the ‘Interpretation of the definition and classification of hazardous waste’ guide.  
  • Please note also that hazardous waste should not be diluted with large volumes of water to reduce the concentration and therefore change its classification to non-hazardous.
  • If the concentrations exceed the threshold values for the category of substance, then the waste may have to be disposed of via a specified disposal route and cannot be discharged to drain.
  • Once a volume is accumulated it must be prepared for transportation to JP stores ready for collection by an external company.
UK Red List/EU Waste Directives Substances The following substances are listed in EU Directives or the 'UK Red-List' and are considered to be dangerous if they are discharged to water.
Metals and their compounds, substances which are similar to metals Aluminium
Antimony
Arsenic
Barium
Berylium
Boron
Cadmium
Chromium
Cobalt
Copper
Iron
Lead
Mercury & its compounds
Molybdenum
Nickel
Selenium
Silver
Tellurium
Thallium
Tin
Titanium
Uranium
Vanadium
Zinc
Organohalogens
Pesticides
2-Chlorophenol
4-Chloro-3-methyl-phenol
2,4-Dichlorophenol
Aldrin
Biphenyl
Bisphenol-A
Carbon tetrachloride
Chloroform
Chloronitrotoluenes
Chlorotoluron
DDT / DDD / DDE
1,2 - Dichloroethane
Dieldrin
Endosulfan
Endrin  
Gamma - hexachlorocyclohexane
Hexachlorobenzene
Isodrin
Naphthalene
Nonyl Phenol
Nonyl phenol Ethoxylate
PAH’s
Pentachlorophenol
Polychlorinated biphenyls
Tetrachloroethylene
1,1,1-Trichloroethane
1,1,2-Trichloroethane
Trichlorobenzene
Trichloroethylene
Any other organohalogen compounds and substances which may form these compounds.
Organophosphorus or Organonitrogen pesticides Azinophos - ethyl
Azinophos - methyl
Chlorofenvinphos
Cyfluthrin
Cypermethrin
Deltamethrin
Demeton
Diazinon
Dichlorvos
Dimethoate
Fenthion
Fenitrothion
Flucofuron
Flumethrin
H-cis Cypermethrin
Malathion
Mevinphos
Omethoate
Parathion
Parathion-methyl
PCSD’s
Permethrin
Propetamphos
Pyrethroids
Sulcofuron
Triazophos
Trifluralin
Any other organophosphorus compounds
Organotin compounds Tributyltin compounds Triphenyltin compounds Any other organotin compound
Triazine Herbicides
Herbicides
2,4 D-ester/non-ester Atrazine  
Bentazone
Cyromazine
Diuron
Isoproturon
Linuron
MCPA
Mecroprop
Simazine
 
Others Hexachlorobutadiene
Any other biocides or their derivatives
Carbohydrates (sugar,starch,malts)
Fluorides
Mineral oils, vegetable oils, and hydrocarbons
Hydrocarbon solvents (benzene, xylene, toluene)
Amitraz
Ammonia (and any compounds or derivatives)
Cyanides
Di-Ethylhexyl phthalate
Dioxins
Dyestuffs
Pharmaceuticals
Surface Active Agents (detergents)
Trifluralin
VOC’s
Substances which are toxic (sulphide)
Substances which can cause cancer, mutations or other defects in or through the aquatic environment
Inorganic compounds of phosphorus and elemental phosphorus
Inorganic acids/alkalis (hydrochloric acid, Sodium hydroxide)
Substances which can affect the taste or smell of groundwater and compounds which cause these substances to form in groundwater making it unfit to drink

Prohibited chemicals

The following procedure for handling and use of CWC chemicals must be implemented at all times:

  • A risk assessment must be completed.
  • Request authorised person to grant access to storage area.
  • Sign out the chemical and how much you intend to use- in an audit book stored locally with the chemicals.
  • Return chemical immediately after use and confirm return in book by signing chemical back in.
  • Do you need access outside working hours? You must notify an authorised person to sign out a key to you. This will be your responsibility up to the point the key is returned.

Schedule 3 chemicals:

Chemical CAS
Phosgene: Carbonyl dichloride (75-44-5)
Cyanogen chloride (506-77-4)
Hydrogen cyanide (74-90-8)
Chloropicrin: Trichloronitromethane (76-06-2)
Phosphorus oxychloride (10025-87-3)
Phosphorus trichloride (7719-12-2)
Phosphorus pentachloride (10026-13-8)
Trimethyl phosphite (121-45-9)
Triethyl phosphite (122-52-1)
Dimethyl phosphite (868-85-9)
Diethyl phosphite (762-04-9)
Sulfur monochloride (10025-67-9)
Sulfur dichloride (10545-99-0)
Thionyl chloride (7719-09-7)
Ethyldiethanolamine (139-87-7)
Methyldiethanolamine (105-59-9)
Triethanolamine (102-71-6)

Liquid nitrogen

Liquid nitrogen is a colourless, odourless liquid with a boiling point of -196 °C.

There is a store of liquid nitrogen on the 4th floor of the G.E. Fogg building.  You must not take liquid nitrogen without prior training (email: p.ungerer@qmul.ac.uk).

Hazards:

1 Asphyxiation:

Liquid nitrogen is an odourless gas that rapidly evaporates to a much larger volume of gas that is heavier than air. In an enclosed space this will displace the oxygen present causing asphyxiation.

At low oxygen concentrations unconsciousness and death may occur in seconds and without warning.

2 Cryogenic burns and frostbite:

Caused by touching a metal surface that has been in contact with liquid nitrogen. Touching the surface will cause the skin to stick and the flesh will tear when you attempt to withdraw away from it.

3 Soft material breakage:

Soft materials such as plastics and rubber may become brittle and break causing spills and presenting a hazard. Be aware of the limits of your containment vessels and the materials that make them.  

Also, be aware of the amount of pressure that can build up in screw top vials when freezing samples.

Personal protective equipment (PPE):

It should be remembered that PPE is not designed to withstand immersion in, or prolonged contact with, cryogenic liquids.

Splashing should be regarded as likely during any pouring operation. The PPE options are:

  1. Gloves (insulated)
  2. Lab coat
  3. Full face visor

Handling, storage and use:

1 Pouring into a dewar:

  • Always pour the LN into a receiving container slowly to prevent splashing and cool it down gradually
  • The container should always be vented to the atmosphere
  • High concentrations of oxygen and/or nitrogen should not be allowed to build up

2 Venting mechanism on personal dewars:

The ability to vent should be checked periodically. If you are not confident doing so yourself then seek technical assistance. **Never do this alone**

Under NO circumstances shall the Dewar’s default mechanism for opening and shutting be altered.

Transportation of liquid nitrogen:

  1. Transporting LN in a lift must be carried out by two people.
  2. Do not enter the lift with cold gases/liquid gases; there is a risk of asphyxiation in all enclosed spaces.
  3. Where possible an override key must be used to stop any unauthorised entry into the lift as the LN is being transported.

Disposal of unused liquid nitrogen:

Allow the liquid nitrogen to sublimate to the atmosphere in a well-ventilated area where no build up of nitrogen gas can occur.

Dry ice

Dry ice is solidified carbon dioxide (CO2).

Dry ice is stored besides stores in the Joseph Priestley (JP) building - on the first floor.

Hazards:

1 Asphyxiation:

Solid CO2 sublimates releasing CO2 vapour. CO2 vapour is substantially heavier than air. 

In confined, poorly ventilated spaces, it can displace air, causing asphyxiation.  

2 Causes frostbite/burns:

Dry ice is solid at -79 °C.  Direct contact with the skin will cause frostbite within seconds of contact.  

Frostbite is a freezing injury resembling a burn.

Personal protective equipment (PPE):

Always wear insulated gloves, safety glasses and a lab coat.

Handling, storage and use:

Use only specified equipment which is suitable for the storage or transportation of dry ice.

  • *Avoid contact with skin and eyes*
  • Never handle dry ice with your bare hands.
  • Always wear insulated gloves, safety glasses and a lab coat.
  • Do not put dry ice in your mouth or otherwise ingest it.
  • If dry ice is accidentally ingested, it can cause severe internal injury.
  • Never store dry ice in glass or other sealed (air-tight) containers or coolers.
  • Do not use dry ice in confined areas. Dry ice releases heavy carbon dioxide vapour that can cause rapid suffocation.

Transportation of dry ice:

Always carry Carbon Dioxide (solid) Safety Data Sheet in the cab or driver's compartment of any vehicle carrying significant quantities of dry ice.

Disposal of unused dry ice:

Always ensure that there is adequate ventilation during transportation.

  • Do not attempt to dump unused dry ice.
  • Allow the dry ice to sublimate to the atmosphere in a well-ventilated area where no build up of carbon dioxide vapour can occur.
  • Do not dispose of dry ice in sewers, sinks, or toilets. The extreme cold will harm sink disposals, toilet parts, and pipes.
  • Do not dispose of dry ice in garbage receptacles or garbage chutes.
  • Do not dispose of dry ice in areas accessible to the general public.

Compressed gas cylinders

There are a wide variety of compressed gas cylinders, supplied by BOC, throughout SBCS. Where possible, the gas should cylinder should be stored externally to the building and piped in. Where this is not possible, a cylinder can be located in a laboratory area that is: 

  • Well ventilated 
  • Secured to a laboratory 
  • Has been inspected by both BOC and an appropriate member of the SBCS health and safety team. 

Under no circumstances should an individual member of SBCS be manoeuvring gas cylinders. This is to be done by BOC staff only. 

For assistance please contact QMUL@BOC.com

Radiation

No radioactive work is currently carried out within the School. 

For any advice please contact the SBCS radioactivity safety officer Steve Pestaille (email s.r.pestaille@qmul.ac.uk).

For further advice on anything covered on this page contact the SBCS Health and Safety coordinator: sbcs-healthandsafety@qmul.ac.uk

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