Date: Fri, 21 Aug 2009 14:24:31 -0400
Reply-To: Heinz Trebitz <iht63**At_Symbol_Here**WAVECOMM.COM>
Sender: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
From: Heinz Trebitz <iht63**At_Symbol_Here**WAVECOMM.COM>
Subject: Andrew Gross' question aboutsStorage of lab Ccemicals

To: DCHAS list editor:
I agree with Russ Pfifer's suggestion to use plastic trays for secondary containment. I'd keep the chemicals at the work bench  where they can be reached easily. Standard surfaces for work benches are usually resistant to acids or bases. Leaks can be easily detected and limiting the container size to <1  liter limits the damage from a major spill.
Keeping chemicals used on a daily basis in a cabinet increases the spill potential during carrying a bottle between the cabinet and the work area. Also, leaks  in a closed cabinet may go undetected for quite a while.
Finally, accidents happen and students have to learn how to handle corrosive chemicals in a safe manner. As you cannot avoid hands-on work, try to keep the accidental damage to a minimum.
Teaching is the key. From my student times I remember the rule governing the mixing of concentrated sulfuric acid with water:
In German: "Erst das Wasser, dann die Saeure, sonst geschieht das Ungeheure".
Translated: Avoid the terrible from happening: first the water then the acid!
Better still: avoid mixing altogether.
Heinz Trebitz, Ph.D.
480 Colby Road North
Thetford Center, VT 05075
Tel., Fax: 802-785-2129
e-mail: iht63**At_Symbol_Here**

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