FAQs

Department of Chemistry




FAQs

Who is responsible for ensuring that a safe environment exists in a given laboratory?

It is the responsibility of every member of the Department of Chemistry to ensure that a safe work environment is available for all faculty, staff, and students be it in a laboratory or office space.

 

Who is responsible for providing lab-specific safety training?

It is every laboratory supervisor’s obligation to ensure that the personnel operating in their lab environments have the necessary skills and training to ensure that they can work safely.

 

Is it appropriate to neutralize acids/bases prior to having them removed as chemical waste?

It is not necessary, nor recommended, that acids/bases be neutralized prior to disposal.  Not only will the neutralization process generate larger quantities of waste, neutralizing substances could in itself pose a safety concern.

 

What is the minimum personal protection equipment (PPE) required in a lab?

The minimum PPE required in a chemistry lab consists of safety glasses and closed toed shoes.  The use of lab coats is highly recommended.  It is recommended that contact lenses not be worn in chemistry labs as they can trap chemicals close to the eyes causing serious damage.  Individual lab supervisors do have the right to require additional PPE above and beyond the minimum requirement.

 

How should solvent waste be segregated prior to disposal?

Organic solvents should also be segregated into halogenated and non-halogenated containers since these two classes of solvents require different disposal considerations by RPR Environmental.  Containers of chemical waste should be stored in a vented solvent cabinet or in a fume hood.  Waste containers must be intact and suitable for holding the chemical with a tightly fitting lid to prevent leakage. Twenty liter pails must be sealed. Pour-spout containers must have an intact cap. These containers should be stored in an area with secondary containment in case of a leak or breech of the original container.    No waste container should ever be filled beyond 80% of its capacity.    List the content(s) of the container on the Chemical Waste Label and their approximate volumes (percentages) -   do not use short forms or abbreviations   -   full chemical names are required.

 

What is the proper storage procedure for chemical waste?

Liquid and solid chemical waste should be segregated where possible as should any incompatible compounds.    It is the responsibility of the lab personnel, including the lab supervisor, to ensure that incompatible chemicals are not combined in the waste containers.    Acids and bases should not be stored in the same waste container, nor should they be stored with organic solvents.  Organic solvents should also be segregated into halogenated and non-halogenated containers since these two classes of solvents require different disposal considerations by RPR Environmental.  Containers of chemical waste should be stored in a vented solvent cabinet or in a fume hood.

 

What chemicals can be disposed of down the sink?

No chemicals, including aqueous solutions, are to be disposed of down the sinks no mater how dilute.

 

What height should the sash be set to for optimal fume hood operation?

For optimal fume hood operations the sash should opened to a height of approximate 15.25 cm (6 inches).

 

Are the fire extinguishers in the lab good for all fires?

The extinguishers in most of the research and teaching labs are carbon dioxide extinguishers.  Although they can be used on a wide variety of fires they are never to be used on fires caused by reactive metals.  In lieu of a Class D fire extinguisher, sand should be used to smother metal fires

 

What general chemical incompatibilities should I be aware of?

The following is a list of some common chemicals encountered in chemistry labs and their associated incompatibilities.  This list is by no means exhaustive.  It is the responsibility of the lab supervisor and lab personnel to be aware of the hazards associated with the chemicals in their labs.

  • Chemical                                         Is Incompatible With...
  • Acetic acid                                       Chromic acid, nitric acid, hydroxyl compounds, ethylene glycol, perchloric acid, peroxides, permanganates
  • Acetone                                            Concentrated nitric and sulphuric acid mixtures, chlorinated         solvent/alkali mixtures
  • Acetylene                                          Chlorine, bromine, copper, fluorine, silver, mercury
  • Alkali & alkaline earth metals             Water, carbon tetrachloride or other chlorinated                               hydrocarbons, carbon dioxide, halogens
  • Ammonia (anhydrous)                        Mercury, chlorine, calcium hypochlorite, iodine, bromine,hydrofluoric acid (anhydrous)
  • Ammonium nitrate                             Acids, powdered metals, flammable liquids, chlorates, nitrites,    sulphur, finely divided organic or combustible materials
  • Aniline                                               Nitric acid, hydrogen peroxide
  • Arsenical materials                             Any reducing agent
  • Azides                                                Acids
  • Bromine                                              Ammonia, acetylene, butadiene, butane, methane, propane (or other petroleum gases), hydrogen, sodium carbide, benzene, finely divided metals, turpentine
  • Calcium oxide                                     Water
  • Carbon (activated)                               Calcium hypochlorite, all oxidizing agents
  • Carbon tetrachloride                            Sodium
  • Chlorates                                             Ammonium salts, acids, powdered metals, sulphur, finely divided         organic or combustible materials
  • Chromic acid & Chromium trioxide                                           Acetic acid, naphthalene, camphor, glycerol,alcohol, flammable liquids in general
  • Chlorine                                                See bromine
  • Chlorine dioxide                                    Ammonia, methane, phosphine, hydrogen sulphide
  • Chloroform                                            Strong bases, ketones and strong bases, alkaline metals,        aluminium, strong oxidizers
  • Copper                                                  Acetylene, hydrogen peroxide
  • Cyanides                                               Acids
  • Flammable liquids                                  Ammonium nitrate, chromic acid, hydrogen peroxide, halogens
  • Hydrocarbons                                         Fluorine, chlorine, bromine, chromic acid, sodium peroxide
  • Hydrocyanic acid                                    Nitric acid
  • Hydrofluoric acid (anhydrous)                 Ammonia (aqueous or anhydrous)
  • Hydrogen peroxide                                 Copper, chromium, iron, most metals or their salts, alcohols,              acetone, organic materials, aniline, nitromethane, combustible materials
  • Hydrogen sulphide                                 Fuming nitric acid, oxidizing gases
  • Hypochlorites                                        Acids, activated carbon
  • Iodine                                                   Acetylene, ammonia (aqueous or anhydrous), hydrogen
  • Mercury                                                 Acetylene, fulminic acid, ammonia
  • Nitrates                                                 Sulphuric acid
  • Nitric acid (concentrated)                      Acetic acid, aniline, chromic acid, hydrocyanic acid, hydrogen     sulphide, flammable liquids, flammable gases, copper, brass, any heavy metals
  • Nitrites                                                  Acids
  • Nitroparaffins                                        Inorganic bases, amines
  • Oxalic acid                                             Silver, mercury
  • Oxygen                                                  Oils, grease, hydrogen, flammable liquids, flammable solids,       flammable gases
  • Perchloric acid                                         Acetic anhydride, bismuth and its alloys, alcohol, paper, wood, grease, oils
  • Peroxides, organic                                 Acids (organic and mineral), avoid friction, store cold
  • Phosphorus (white)                                 Air, oxygen, alkalies, reducing agents
  • Potassium                                              Carbon tetrachloride, carbon dioxide, water
  • Potassium chlorate                                 Sulphuric and other acids
  • Potassium perchlorate                            Sulphuric and other acids (see also chlorates)             
  • Potassium permanganate                        Glycerol, ethylene glycol, benzaldehyde, sulphuric acid
  • Selenides                                               Reducing agents
  • Silver                                                     Acetylene, oxalic acid, tartaric acid, ammonium compounds,   fulminic acid
  • Sodium                                                  Carbon tetrachloride, carbon dioxide, water
  • Sodium nitrite                                        Ammonium nitrite, and other ammonium salts
  • Sodium peroxide                                     Ethyl or methyl alcohol, glacial acetic acid, acetic anhydride,    benzaldehyde, carbon disulfide, glycerin, ethylene glycol, ethyl acetate, methyl acetate, fufural
  • Sulphides                                                Acids
  • Sulphuric acid                                          Potassium chlorate, potassium perchlorate, potassium       permanganate (similar compounds of light metals such as sodium and lithium)
  • Tellurides                                                Reducing agents

 

Is it acceptable to prop open lab doors?

Section 4.12.4.1 (4) of the   Ontario Fire Code   requires that laboratory doors remain closed at all times so as to act as a physical barrier against the spread of fire.

 

What are the maximum amounts of flammable and combustible materials that can be stored in open areas of a lab?

According to Section 4 of the   Ontario Fire Code , 50 L of flammable materials and 250 of combustible materials can be stored in open areas of a lab.

 

What is the difference between a flammable and combustible material?

A   combustible   compound has a flash point that is greater than 37.8 ° C but less than 93.3 ° C while a flammable   compound has a flash point less than 37.8 ° C and a vapour pressure of 275.8 kPa at  
37.8 ° C . 

POSTAL ADDRESS
Dept. of Chemistry
Brock University
500 Glenridge Ave.
St. Catharines, ON
Canada, L2S 3A1
Tel: (905) 688-5550 x3406

Administrative Assistant:
Christine Skorski
cskorski@brocku.ca

Webmaster:
Razvan Simionescu
rsimionescu@brocku.ca