Corrosive Chemicals


Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are intended to provide you with general guidance on how to safely work with a specific class of chemical or hazard.  This SOP is generic in nature.  It addresses the use and handling of substances by hazard class only.  In some instances multiple SOPs may be applicable for a specific chemical (i.e. both the SOPs for flammable liquids and carcinogens would apply to benzene).  If you have any questions concerning the applicability of any items listed in this procedure, contact EH&S 1-2356 or the Principal Investigator.


Corrosive chemicals are substances that cause visible destruction or permanent changes in human skin tissue at the site of contact, or are highly corrosive to steel.  The major classes of corrosives include strong acids, bases, and dehydrating agents.




Personnel:         Immediately flush contaminated area with copious amounts of water after contact with corrosive materials.  Remove any jewelry to facilitate removal of chemicals.  If a delayed response is noted report immediately for medical attention.  Be prepared to detail what chemicals were involved.


                        If the incident involves hydrofluoric acid (HF), apply calcium gluconate gel immediately and seek medical attention.


                        If there is any doubt about the severity of the injury, seek immediate medical attention.


Area:                Decontamination procedures vary depending on the material being handled.  The corrosivity of some materials can be neutralized with other reagents.


See Spill Response Procedure



Protection:      Eye protection in the form of safety glasses must be worn at all times when handling corrosive chemicals.  Ordinary (prescription) glasses do not provide adequate protection. Adequate safety glasses must meet rigorous tests and safety standards according to ANSI Z.87.1 and must be equipped with side shields.  Safety glasses with side shields do not provide protection from splashes, therefore, when the potential for splash hazard exists, other eye protection or face protection must be worn.


Eyewash:         Where the eyes or body of any person may be exposed to corrosive chemicals, suitable facilities for quick drenching or flushing of the eyes and body shall be provided within the work area for immediate emergency use.  Bottle type eyewash stations are not acceptable.


Fume hood:     Manipulation of corrosive chemicals should be carried out in a fume hood.  If the use of a fume hood proves impractical refer to the section of special ventilation.


Gloves:           Gloves should be worn when handling corrosive chemicals.  Disposable latex or nitrile gloves provide adequate protection against accidental hand contact with small quantities of most laboratory chemicals.  Lab workers should contact EH&S 1-2356 for advice on chemical resistant glove selection when direct or prolonged contact with hazardous chemicals is anticipated.



Assessment:   Hazard assessment should focus on proper use and handling; spill control; and splash protection.



Apparel:          Lab coats, closed toed shoes and long sleeved clothing should be worn when handling corrosive chemicals.  Additional protective clothing should be worn if the possibility of skin contact is likely.



Shielding:        Safety shielding is required any time there is a risk of explosion, splash hazard or a highly exothermic reaction.  All manipulations of corrosive chemicals that pose this risk should occur in a fume hood with the sash in the lowest feasible position.  Portable shields, which provide protection to all laboratory occupants, are acceptable.



Shower:           A safety or drench shower should be immediately accessible at all times when working with corrosive chemicals .


Labels:            Containers: All corrosive chemicals must be clearly labeled with the correct chemical name.  Handwritten labels are acceptable; chemical formulas and structural formulas are not acceptable.



Storage:          Segregate the various types of corrosives.  Separate acids and bases.  Liquids and solids should also be separated.  Specially designed corrosion resistant cabinets should be used for the storage of large quantities of corrosive materials.  Store corrosives on plastic trays.  So not store corrosive materials on high cabinets or shelves.


Spills:              Please See Spill Cleanup Procedures



Disposal:         All waste shall be placed in closed containers, properly labeled and moved to the Hazardous Waste Accumulation Structure (south west corner of SGM).  Notify Roger Clark of Waste to be picked up from the Hazardous Waste Accumulation area.