All chemicals in the laboratory must be considered poisonous, flammable, corrosive, or any combination of the above. Distinct labels (such as "POISON" and "FLAMMABLE") must be affixed to the respective containers. Work with chemicals should be performed in a chemical fume hood. Some chemicals require special attention. Read about these below:
a. Mercuric Compounds. The half-life for the decomposition of mercury is very long; therefore, mercuric compounds cannot be disposed of as regular trash because they pollute the environment. The easiest and safest method for the disposal of mercury is to contract a local company that works with these substances. But if local disposal is necessary, a closed steel container is suitable for accumulation pending disposal.
b. Corrosives. Strong acids and bases are harmful because of skin burns and inhalation. They can also be the cause of corrosion of the laboratory equipment. A sandbox is required for the storage of these chemicals. Avoid storing strong acids and bases together.
c. Flammables. Some liquids and solids have a low flash point and react so violently to sudden changes in temperature or pressure that they are considered to be explosives. When using these materials, ensure that there is adequate ventilation and that there are no open flames in the area.
d. Poisons. Some substances can intoxicate to the extent of death, even when small amounts are ingested or inhaled. Pipetting by mouth should be avoided at all times. Poisons that are given to patients as fixative (PVA) must have a prominent red label marked "POISON."
e. Carcinogens. Certain reagents, such as xylene and formaldehyde, upon prolonged contact with the skin or mucous membranes, are suspect as the cause of cancerous processes.
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