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Safe handling and storage of Acetone

Method C301

  1. Intent
  2. Description
  3. Use
  4. Storage
  5. Spill
  6. Disposal
  7. Hazard
  8. First Aid
  9. Technical

1. Intent

This laboratory technique describes the processes for use, storage, spill resolution and disposal for acetone. The technique also provides information on fire, explosion and hazards as well as first aid treatment.

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2. Product description

Acetone is a Class 3: Flammable Liquid and has damaging properties as follows:

Acetone toxicity information 

Inhalation May cause irritation to the mucous membrane and upper airways, especially where vapours or mists are generated. Symptoms include sneezing, coughing, wheezing, drowsiness, shortness of breath, headache, dizziness, nausea and vomiting.
Ingestion Ingestion of this product may irritate the gastric tract causing nausea and vomiting.
Skin May cause redness, itching and irritation. Prolonged contact with skin may cause blistering, and repeated contact may have a defatting effect causing dryness and cracking.
Eye Irritating to eyes. On eye contact, acetone will cause tearing, stinging, blurred vision, and redness.
Chronic Effects
Repeated or prolonged skin contact can cause severe irritation or dermatitis. Contact with this product over long periods can aggravate pre-existing medical conditions. Use of alcoholic beverages enhances toxic effects. Exposure may increase the toxic potential of chlorinated hydrocarbons, such as chloroform, trichloroethane.

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3. Use of acetone

3.1 Mandatory PPE

When handling acetone, utilise the following mandatory PPE:

  • Long-sleeved 100% cotton shirt and full-length 100% cotton trousers. For additional protection, a knee-length 100% cotton laboratory coat (with long sleeves which clip at the wrist) can also be worn.
  • Nitrile or super nitrile gloves.
  • Eye Protection: either safety glasses, spectacles, goggles or face shield (complying with AS 1337).
  • Enclosed safety shoes (complying with AS 2210).

Fig 1: PPE

Figure 1: Person wearing appropriate PPE

3.2 Precautions

When handling acetone:

  • It is advisable to apply a barrier cream to the hands prior to use.
  • Always have at least one other person present in the laboratory.
  • Keep containers closed and in an upright position when not in use.
  • Drums in bulk storage may be stored horizontally.
  • Keep containers away from sources of heat (including hot plates, Bunsen burners, ovens and sunlight) except when heating for testing purposes.
  • Exercise caution when opening containers, as contents may be under pressure.
  • Use only in a well ventilated area.
  • Ensure there is a supply of water readily available.
  • Maintain a high level of personal hygiene when using acetone by always washing hands before eating, drinking, smoking or using toilet facilities.
  • It is advisable to apply a moisturiser after washing hands.

3.3 Decanting

When decanting acetone, the following must be observed:

  • Decanting must be carried out in a well ventilated area (do not inhale vapours).
  • Decanted aliquots can be stored in small safety drums, wash bottles or reagent bottles. Never return decanted aliquots to the supply container.
  • Dispose of unused aliquots in an appropriate manner (see Section 6: Disposal).
  • Before decanting from one metal container to another metal container, connect an earthing strap between the containers or have one or both of the containers connected to an earthing rod.
 
Fig 2: Earthing strap

Figure 2: Earthing strap

3.4 Labelling

Containers must be appropriately labelled.

Containers with capacity larger than 500 mL:

Fig 3: Labelling on reagent container >500 mL

Figure 3: Labelling on reagent container > 500 mL

Labels on containers require the following information:

  • Product and chemical name.
  • Dangerous goods class (e.g. Class 3: Flammable Liquid).
  • United Nations (UN 1090) Number.
  • Ingredients and formulation details where relevant.
  • Risk phrases.
  • Safety phrases.
  • First aid procedures.
  • Emergency procedures.
  • Details of manufacturer or importer.
  • Reference to MSDS.

Wash bottles or reagent bottles with capacity 500 mL or smaller:

Labels on containers require the product and chemical name.

Fig 4: Labelling on reagent bottle <500 mL

Figure 4: Labelling on reagent bottle < 500 mL

3.5 Carrying acetone

Acetone containers are to be transferred as follows:

  • Wash bottles may be transferred by hand.
  • Reagent bottles must be transferred using laboratory carriers.
  • Containers with a mass of 20 kg or larger must be transferred using a trolley.

Fig 5: Carrying apparaus

Figure 5: Carrying apparatus

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4. Storage of acetone

To prevent injury to personnel, damage to equipment and to meet legislative storage requirements, acetone is to be stored as follows:

4.1 Storage general

Acetone, being a flammable liquid is to be stored as follows:

  • Monitor containers for deficiencies such as damage or leaks on a monthly basis.
  • Store in an approved container with appropriate labelling.
  • Store containers in an upright position. Drums in bulk storage may be stored horizontally.
  • Keep containers tightly closed when not in use and protected against physical damage.
  • Never store with food, beverages or food packaging.

Acetone cannot be stored with any of the following substances:

Class     Definition Chemicals included in this class
1 Explosives  -
2.1 Flammable Gasses Liquid Petroleum gas, Dymark Spray and Mark Aerosol (paint), Hydrogen (compressed).
2.3 Toxic Gasses  -
4.2 Spontaneously Combustible Substances Activated Charcoal.
4.3 Dangerous When Wet Substances  -
5.1 Oxidising Agents Ammonium Nitrate, Hydrogen Peroxide, Perchloric Acid, Silver Nitrate, Potassium Permanganate, Chromic Acid.
5.2 Organic Peroxides  -
6 Toxic Substances (where toxic substances are cyanides and  corrosives are acids) Ammonium Oxalate, Mercuric Iodide, Phenol crystals and solution, Barium Chloride (6.1), Chloroform (6.1), Methyl Orange (6.1), PotassiumAmericium/Beryllium, Cesium. Chromate (6.1), Trichloroethylene (6.1)
7 Radioactive Substances Americium/Beryllium, Cesium.
9 Miscellaneous Dangerous Lead (metal plate), Magnesium (tooling plate/slab).

4.2 Laboratory storage

  • For quantities of 20 litres or less, store in a bunded, vented flammable liquid storage cabinet (complying with AS 1940).
  • Storage cabinets must be located away from sources of heat such as hot plates, Bunsen burners, ovens and sunlight.
  • Have appropriate fire extinguishers available near any storage area. Suitable extinguishers include water fog, carbon dioxide, dry chemical or alcohol foam.

4.3 Bulk storage

  • For bulk storage e.g. 200 litre drums, store in a secure, well ventilated, bunded storage area.
  • Have appropriate fire extinguishers in and near any bulk storage area. Suitable extinguishers include water fog, carbon dioxide, dry chemical or alcohol foam.

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5. Spill resolution

Spills or leaks of acetone must be cleaned up immediately.

5.1 Mandatory PPE

  • Long-sleeved 100% cotton shirt and full-length 100% cotton trousers. For additional protection, a knee-length 100% cotton laboratory coat (with long sleeves which clip at the wrist) can also be worn.
  • Respiratory Equipment eg. Half-Face Filter Respirator Class A1P2 (complying with AS/NZS 1715) for spills in excess of 2 litres.
  • Nitrile or super nitrile gloves.
  • Eye protection: either safety glasses, spectacles, goggles or face shield (complying with AS 1337).
  • Enclosed safety shoes (complying with AS 2210).

5.2 Immediate action

  • Stop any leak if safe to do so.
  • Evacuate all unnecessary personnel.
  • Turn off all sources of heat.
  • Keep combustible materials away from the immediate area of the spill.
  • Turn off air conditioning (if possible).
  • Open windows and doors to increase ventilation (if possible).
  • Use a water spray to prevent vapours from entering the atmosphere.
  • Inform the local water authority and EPA if contamination of sewers or waterways occurs.
Acetone Spill Procedures Title Screen

Video transcript

Spills or leaks of acetone must be cleaned up immediately. However, before attending to any acetone spill, it’s imperative the correct PPE is worn.

For acetone spills, this includes:

  • Enclosed safety shoes which comply with AS2210.
  • A knee length 100% cotton laboratory coat with long sleeves that are clipped at the wrist.
  • Safety glasses; and
  • Super nitrile gloves

If the spill is greater than 2 litres, respirator equipment such as a half faced filter respirator class A1P2 must be worn. Following a spill, you must:

  • Stop any leak if it’s safe to do so.
  • Evacuate all unnecessary personnel, making sure there’s at least 2 people remaining in attendance.
  • Keep combustible material away from the immediate area of the spill.
  • If possible, increase ventilation by opening doors and windows.
  • Turn off air conditioning and heat sources like ovens or hot plates; and
  • Gather the spill kit suitable for cleaning up the chemical. In this example, a flammable liquids or hydrocarbon spill kit is required.

If contamination of sewers or waterways occurs, the relevant local authorities and EPA must be informed in accordance with local regulations.

With the correct PPE and spill kit, the spill can now be attended to. First, use a water spray to prevent vapours from entering the atmosphere and cover the spilled acetone using:

  • Chemsorb
  • Vermicullite; or
  • Absorbent Hydrocarbon Pads

In this demonstration, absorbent hydrocarbon pads are being used.

  • Place the pads over the spill to absorb the solution. 
  • Once the acetone has been absorbed, place the pads into a fume cupboard free from any heat source to evaporate the solvent.
  • When the acetone has been evaporated, place the pads into a plastic bag and seal. 
  • Finally, place this bag into general waste.

To recap the procedures following an acetone spill:

  • Ensure correct PPE is worn.
  • Secure the site.
  • If necessary, notify any relevant authorities.
  • Use the flammable liquids or hydrocarbon spill kit.
  • Dispose of waste correctly; and
  • Ensure personal safety is maintained at all times.

5.3 Clean up

  • Cover the spill with absorbent material such as Chemsorb, Bentonite or Vermicullite until all the fluid has been absorbed.
  • Place the contaminated absorbent material in a closed fume cupboard free from any heat source and allow the solvent to evaporate using the air from the exhaust system.
  • Once the contaminated absorbent material is dry, place it into a plastic bag and seal with a cable tie for subsequent disposal (see Section 6: Disposal).
  • Ventilate the spill site to evaporate any remaining liquid and dispel vapours.

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6. Disposal

6.1 Pre-Treatment

  • Empty acetone containers (including 200 litre drums) should be thoroughly washed out with water. The washings are to be absorbed by an inert absorbent such as Chemsorb, Bentonite or Vermiculite.
  • Labels on empty supply containers must be removed or fully obliterated.

6.2 Disposal method

The washings, containers and absorbent material can be disposed of as follows:

  • Absorbent material contaminated by washings is placed in a closed fume cupboard free from any heat source and the solvent is allowed to evaporate using the air from the exhaust system, until the absorbent material is dry.
  • Washed out supply drums can be recycled.
  • Supply containers and degraded wash bottles must be placed in general waste.
  • Contaminated dry absorbent material (in a sealed plastic bag) can be disposed of in general waste.

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7. Fire and explosion hazard information

In case of fire with acetone present:

  • Suitable Extinguishing Media: Use water fog, carbon dioxide, dry chemical or alcohol foam.
  • Hazards from Combustion Products: Carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide.
  • Specific Methods: Use water spray to keep fire-exposed containers cool.
  • Specific Hazards: This product is extremely flammable. Vapours are heavier than air and will 'travel' to low-level areas (e.g. sumps, drains, etc) and flashback. Precautions should be taken to eliminate the build up of explosive mixtures.
  • Unsuitable Extinguishing Media: The fire could easily be spread by the use of water in the area where the water could not be contained. Water may be ineffective in fighting the fire.

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8. First aid procedures

In case of exposure with acetone:

  • Inhalation: Remove the source of contamination or move the victim to fresh air – avoid becoming a casualty. Ensure airways are clear and have a qualified person give oxygen through a face mask if breathing is difficult. Seek medical attention.
  • Ingestion: Do NOT induce vomiting. Wash out mouth with water. Seek medical attention.
  • Skin: Wash affected area thoroughly with soap and water. Remove contaminated clothing and wash before re-use or discard. Seek medical attention.
  • Eye: If in contact with the eye(s), hold eyelids apart and flush the eye continuously with running water. Take care not to wash contaminated water into the non-affected eye. Continue flushing for at least 15 minutes or until advised to stop by the Poisons Information Centre or a doctor. Seek medical attention immediately.
  • First Aid Facilities Required: Eye wash station, safety shower and normal washroom facilities.
  • Advice to Doctor: Treat symptomatically. For advice call the Poisons Information Centre below.


Emergency contacts

  • Poisons Information Centre: 131 126
  • Australian Emergency Services: 000

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9. Technical information

Fig 6 : Acetone

Figure 6: Acetone

Acetone chemical and physical information

Molecular Formula C3H6O
Appearance Colourless liquid (white snow-like form when solid).
Melting Point -94.9 °C
Boiling Point 56.53 °C
Solubility in Water Soluble
Specific Gravity 0.791
Flash Point -20 °C
Stability Stable under recommended storage conditions.
Incompatible Materials Strong oxidizing agents, strong acids.
Hazardous Decomposition Products Carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide.
Hazardous Reactions Reacts violently with bromoform and chloroform in the presence of alkalis or in contact with alkaline surfaces. Decomposes violently in contact with nitric/sulfuric acid mixtures. Can react violently with oxidising agents.
Hazardous Polymerisation Will not occur.

The following controls are used by TMR to minimise risks when handling acetone:

Current Transport and Main Roads controls

Engineering Controls / Ventilation Fume cupboard complying with AS 1807 and AS 2243.
Safe Work Procedures As per this technique/MSDS.
First Aid Facilities Eyewash station, safety shower, and normal washroom facilities.
Spill Procedures Refer to Sections 5.2 and 5.3.
Waste Disposal Procedures Waste (solvent) storage system, recycling by authorised agent. Refer to Section 6.2
Fire/Explosion Hazard Refer to Section 7.
Administrative Controls Nil
PPE Refer to Section 5.1.
Emergency Procedures Phone 1800 638 556.
Training Provided Assessed element of competency.
Previous Monitoring Results Nil
Storage & Handling Requirements Flammable liquid cabinet complying with AS 1940 and bulk store complying with this technique.
Monitoring Required No
Health Surveillance Required No

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Last updated
30 September 2013