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Introduction

Always follow these guidelines when working with chemicals:

  • Assume that any unfamiliar chemical is hazardous.
  • Know all the hazards of the chemicals with which you work. For example, perchloric acid is a corrosive, an oxidizer, and a reactive. Benzene is an irritant that is also flammable, toxic, and carcinogenic.
  • Consider any mixture to be at least as hazardous as its most hazardous component.
  • Never use any substance that is not properly labeled.
  • Follow all chemical safety instructions precisely.
  • Minimize your exposure to any chemical, regardless of its hazard rating.
  • Use personal protective equipment, as appropriate; check with your principal investigator or safety officer.
  • Use common sense at all times.

The five prudent practices of chemical safety sum up these safety guidelines:

  1. Treat all chemicals as if they were hazardous.
  2. Minimize your exposure to any chemical.
  3. Avoid repeated exposure to any chemical.
  4. Never underestimate the potential hazard of any chemical or combination of chemicals.
  5. Assume that a mixture or reaction product is more hazardous than any component or reactant.