Fire and Polymers. Materials and Solutions for Hazard Prevention

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Store smaller containers at a convenient height for handling below eye level if possible to reduce the risk of dropping them. Avoid overcrowding in storage areas.

Uses of Borates in Flame Retardants

Do not store containers in out-of-the-way locations where they could be forgotten. Store containers away from doors. Although it is convenient to place frequently used materials next to the door, they could cut off the escape route if an emergency occurs. Store dangerously reactive materials in dry, cool areas, out of direct sunlight, and away from steam pipes, boilers or other heat sources.

Follow the chemical supplier's recommendations for maximum and minimum temperatures for storage and handling. Higher temperatures can be hazardous since they can start and speed up hazardous chemical reactions. In many cases, inhibitors can be rapidly depleted at higher-than-recommended storage temperatures. Loss of inhibitor can result in dangerous reactions. Some dangerously reactive materials must be kept at low temperatures in refrigerators or freezers. Use only approved or specially modified units. These are generally known as "laboratory safe".

Standard domestic refrigerators and freezers contain many ignition sources inside the cabinet. It can also be hazardous to store dangerously reactive materials at less than the recommended temperature. For example, acrylic acid is normally supplied with an inhibitor to prevent polymerization. Acrylic acid freezes at 13? At temperatures less than this, it will partly solidify. The solid part contains little or no inhibitor; the inhibitor remains in the liquid portion.

Fire and explosion risks -

The uninhibited acrylic acid can be safely stored below the freezing point but it may polymerize violently if it is heated to warmer temperatures. Some organic peroxides are sold dissolved or dispersed in solvents, including water, to make them less shock-sensitive. If these are cooled to below their freezing points, crystals of the pure, very sensitive organic peroxide may be formed. Follow the chemical supplier's directions about inhibitors used in a particular product.

Where appropriate, check inhibitor and oxygen levels and add more as needed according to the supplier's instructions. Open and dispense containers of dangerously reactive materials in a special room or area outside the storage area. Do not allow any ignition sources in the vicinity. Take care that the dangerously reactive materials do not contact incompatible substances.

Use containers and dispensing equipment, such as drum pumps, scoops or spatulas, that the chemical supplier recommends. These items must be made from materials compatible with the chemicals they are used with. Keep them clean to avoid contamination. When transferring materials from one container to another, avoid spilling material and contaminating your skin or clothing. Spills from open, unstable or breakable containers during material transfer have caused serious accidents. NEVER transfer liquids by pressurizing their usual shipping containers with air or inert gas.

How Do I Work Safely with - Dangerously Reactive Liquids and Solids

The pressure may damage ordinary drums and barrels. If air is used, it may also create a flammable atmosphere inside containers of flammable or combustible liquids. Glass containers with screw-cap lids or glass stoppers may not be acceptable for friction-sensitive materials. Avoid using ordinary screw-cap bottles with a cardboard liner in the cap for moisture-sensitive chemicals.

Airborne moisture can diffuse slowly but steadily through the liner.


NEVER transfer materials stored in a vented container into a tightly-sealed, non-vented container. The buildup of gas pressure could rupture it. Dispense from only one container at a time. Finish dispensing and labelling one material before starting to dispense another. Dispense the smallest amount possible, preferably only enough for immediate use.

NEVER return any unused material, even if it does not seem to be contaminated, to the original container. If a dangerously reactive material freezes, do not chip or grind it to break up lumps, or heat it to thaw it out. Follow the chemical supplier's advice. Avoid dropping, sliding or skidding heavy metal containers such as drums or barrels of friction- or shock-sensitive material.

Make sure that all areas where dangerously reactive liquids and solids are used are clean and free of incompatible materials and ignition sources. Do not allow temperatures in these areas to become hot enough to cause a hazardous reaction. Regular workplace inspections can help to spot situations in which dangerously reactive materials are stored, handled or used in potentially hazardous ways.

Following these basic safe practices will help protect you from the hazards of dangerously reactive liquids and solids:. Ensure that processing equipment is clean, properly designed and made from materials compatible with the dangerously reactive material used. Find out from the chemical supplier what materials are suitable for the specific chemical.

For example, some steels and aluminum alloys, zinc and galvanized metal can cause rapid decomposition of certain organic peroxides. Accidents have happened when reactive materials came in contact with incompatible heat exchange fluids or fluids used in instruments to monitor processes. Reactive substances have, on occasion, leaked and soaked into equipment insulating materials. Insulators have good heat-keeping ability.

Chemical Storage Guidelines from The CDC

Once a reaction begins within the insulating material, the heat given off from the reaction can rapidly build up to hazardous levels and may result in fire. Some jobs require that dangerously reactive materials be diluted prior to use. Always strictly follow the chemical supplier's advice. Using the wrong solvent or a contaminated solvent could cause an explosion. Using reclaimed solvents of unknown purity can be hazardous. They might contain dangerous concentrations of contaminants that are incompatible with the dangerously reactive material. Some operations involving dangerously reactive materials can be especially hazardous.

Many accidents have occurred during distillation, extraction or crystallization because these processes involve concentrating reactive substances.

Sieving dry, unstable materials might result in static electricity sparks which could cause ignition. Filtering friction- or shock-sensitive chemicals with materials and devices that produce frictional heat, such as sintered glass filters, can be hazardous.

Before using a new material in an operation, find out as much as possible about the potential hazards of the particular chemical and operation. Dangerously reactive wastes are hazardous. Dispose of unwanted or contaminated reactive chemicals promptly using a method the chemical supplier recommends. Consider any reactive materials accidentally mixed with an unknown or foreign material as contaminated, and dispose of them.

NEVER attempt to salvage spilled or contaminated dangerously reactive materials. NEVER use these "empty" containers for anything else, no matter how clean they seem to be. Treat them as dangerously reactive wastes. Follow the chemical supplier's advice for safely handling or decontaminating "empty" containers. Store reactive waste in the same way as unused dangerously reactive materials. Use only compatible containers for wastes. Identify their contents with suitable labels. NEVER dispose of these wastes in ordinary garbage or down sinks or drains.

Dispose of them according to the supplier's advice, or through hazardous waste collection and disposal companies.

In all cases, dispose of dangerously reactive wastes according to the environmental laws that apply to your jurisdiction. Contact the appropriate environmental officials for details.

Do not use sawdust or other combustible sweeping compounds to clean up spills of oxidizers or organic peroxides. If other methods, such as engineering controls, are not available or effective in controlling exposure to dangerously reactive materials, wear suitable personal protective equipment PPE. Choosing the right PPE for a particular job is essential. MSDSs should provide general guidance.

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Also obtain help from someone who knows how to evaluate the hazards of a specific job and how to select the proper PPE. When using materials that are harmful by skin contact, wear protective gloves, aprons, boots, hoods or other clothing depending on the risk of skin contact.