Hazardous substances are some of the most dangerous and complicated materials to handle in the whole material handling industry. They range from corrosive acids to high pH alkali solutions. Due to the complex and interesting nature of these chemicals, they need bespoke storage and handling systems for their use in industry. In this article we will be looking at these storage systems, both the materials used for holding the substances and the storage units used for containing.
Materials used for Hazardous Substances
Hazardous substances need to be handled in particular types of materials. Some dangerous chemicals such as corrosive acids would eat through metal containers. It is therefore important employees handle hazardous chemicals in the right way. Many chemicals will come in plastic, typically large plastic drums or smaller plastic containers. Most hazardous substances do not react with the plastics used. A good example would be Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), as it does not react or corrode with chemicals, and is also relatively cheap.
When storing hazardous substances, it is not just reactions with the material that you should be wary of. For example, you might see many hazardous chemicals, such as stock solutions of perchloric acid, stored in strongly tinted glass. This stops the penetration of UV light into the container, which can cause reactions such as oxidation. There are complexities even here; for instance, hydrofluoric acid can’t be stored in glass.
For any hazardous substance, it is imperative that you store the chemicals according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Consult material safety data sheets, as well as any ‘control of substances hazardous to health’ forms.
Storage of Hazardous Substances
As well as the chemistry of storing hazardous substances, it is also important to store them in the right areas in line with safety regulations. Hazardous chemicals need to be stored in safe, secure storage areas such as steel cabinets or toxic chemical storage cabinets. These cabinets stop the potential spillage of chemicals occurring or damage to the containers, and they also stop anyone tampering with the chemicals.