Laboratory - Storage of chemicals
Storage of many different chemicals in a laboratory setting is done following a few simple rules
- Store by chemical compatibility
- Use secondary containment
- Store the minimum quantity needed consistent with use requirements
The sorting of diverse chemicals found in laboratories by compatibility is often a difficult task. The Safety Data Sheets may have some compatibility information, but this is frequently terse and difficult to interpret. The hazard classifications of the Global Harmonization System provides a starting point for setting up a storage compatibility program. The following table lists the GHS-drived Storage Groups.
|Explosives||Separate storage for 6 Divisions of explosives||Explosive use and storage must follow rules of the local/national agencies have jurisdiction.|
|Compressed or Liquified Gases||Flammable gases||Aerosols are stored with their corresponding GHS classification.|
|Flammable liquids||Local codes may apply|
|Self-reactive chemicals||All types|
|Pyrophoric liquids||Local codes may apply|
|Self-heating substances||May require refrigeration|
|Water reactive substances||Releases a flammable gas|
|Oxidizing liquids||All categories||Acids|
|Oxidizing solids||Bases (Caustics)|
|Organic peroxides||All types|
|Corrosive to metals|
|Skin/eye corrosive||All categories||Acids|
|Acute toxicity||All categories|
|Serious eye damage/irritation||All categories|
|Respiratory sensitivity||All categories||May require secure storage|
|Skin sensitizer||All categories||May require secure storage|
|Germ cell mutagenicity||All categories||Category 1 may require secure storage|
|Carcinogenicity||All categories||May be subject to local regulation|
|Reproductive toxic||All categories||Category 1 may require secure storage|
|Lactation effects||All categories|
|Specific target organ toxicity||Both single and repeated exposure, all categories||Category 1 may require secure storage|
|Aquatic Toxicity||Both acute and chronic|
Chemicals in the Storage Groups in Section 1 may require dedicated safety cabinets, dedicated rooms, or possibly outside storage, depending on quantities and local ordinances. Chemicals in the Storage Groups in Section 2 may be stored together, but placed in dedicated secondary containment within that location.
Secondary containment can be a simple polyethylene tray of sufficient size to contain 100 percent of the contents of the largest container in the tray. These trays can also be used within safety cabinets to provide further segregation, if needed.
The nest method to limit the amount of chemicals in a laboratory is “just-in-time” delivery. This arrangement with a supplier uses a scheme such as “order by 10h00, deliver by 15h00”. In the absence of a just-in-time program, then ordering chemicals in the smallest size containers consistent with needs must suffice. While this may increase the cost per container, it will reduce waste disposal costs and may also make more laboratory space available for work, rather than storage.