Working Safely

Acetone is regarded as a relatively common laboratory chemical, and is frequently used as a drying agent for pipettes and other glassware. It is not generally considered to be a dangerous fluid. It can be harmful but the circumstances needed are not usually met and it is not a major concern in histotechnolgy.

Its major disadvantage is that it is inflammable and must be kept away from all open flames or other ignition sources. It must be stored in an explosion safe cabinet and should not be kept with oxidising agents as it may form an explosive compound on oxidation (acetone peroxide). In practice, reasonable care ensures it can be used safely. Appropriate fire fighting materials should always be readily available for use when appropriate, although large fires should be left for professional fire fighters.

Acetone spills may be cleaned up by soaking into a cloth or paper towels, then washing out the cloth and wiping down the area with a wet cloth. Other than sufficiently large quantities of water being used, no further treatment is necessary. Do ensure that the area is well ventilated to remove all vapour. If using a fan for this, make sure it is one that is shielded for use in such situations. Ensure the cloth or towels are not just thrown into a closed container but made safe by dousing with water or by evaporation.

The disposal of used acetone may be a problem. Many jurisdictions permit small amounts to be discharged into their waste water systems. Check with your municipality for their regulations on this. Large amounts should be stored in an explosion safe environment and disposed of with other inflammable materials.




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