Hydrogen peroxide is a dangerous liquid with strong oxidizing characteristic. You have to handle it with care. Otherwise, you will get injured as what has happened to a student who unwittingly made explosive from hydrogen peroxide recently at University of Bristol. That’s why you must understand hydrogen peroxide safety tips very well.
As you might already know that beside as a strong oxidizer, hydrogen peroxide is also an irritant and toxic chemical.
You have to handle this hazardous chemical with care and follow the safe handling procedure. This starts from good preservation or storing, handling, usage and also disposal.
Do you know how to handle hydrogen peroxide safely?
Hazard List of Hydrogen Peroxide
You have to know the hydrogen peroxide hazards in order to be able taking correct actions when handling it.
The followings are hydrogen peroxide hazards:
- Strong oxidizing agent, which may cause fire or explosion
- Irritant that can cause severe burns on skin and damage on eyes
- Harmful if it is inhaled or swallowed
- Can cause pressure build up inside closed container or closed piping from oxygen gas that is released when it decomposes
- Uncontrolled decomposition may cause high temperature increase
More About Hydrogen Peroxide Decomposition
After you know the hazards, it is also important for you to understand well about the hydrogen peroxide decomposition reaction.
Basically, the reaction does not release any toxic or harmful substance. It results only water and oxygen gas. Besides water and oxygen gas, the decomposition reaction also releases heat.
The reaction can be shows in the following equation:
H2O2 –> H2O + O2 + heat of reaction
There are several factors that will increase speed of the above hydrogen peroxide decomposition reaction. You have to control these factors carefully.
Here are the factors that affect the decomposition reaction:
- Temperature. According to research result, the rate of decomposition will be twice in every 10 degree Celsius increase.
- Hydrogen peroxide concentration.
- The existence of heavy metals in hydrogen peroxide solution.
- Concentration of stabilizer added during manufacturing process
- pH value. The higher, the faster.
- The existence of contaminants like dust, dirt, other chemicals, etc.
- Type of packaging and piping materials used for hydrogen peroxide
Hydrogen Peroxide Safety Tips
Okay, so far you have learned about hydrogen peroxide hazards and hydrogen peroxide decomposition reaction.
Now, it is the time for me to talk about hydrogen peroxide safety tips. I will talk about all aspects that will affect your safety while dealing with this hazardous chemical.
I will begin with how to store it safely.
1. How to Store Hydrogen Peroxide Safely
At first, you should choose the right packaging type for hydrogen peroxide that you will buy.
Smaller packaging size is also available in the market. It is usually used for medical grade, food grade or analytical grade hydrogen peroxide.
Despite of packaging type you choose, the procedure is similar. First, you have to store hydrogen peroxide in a clean area with good ventilation.
Second, you have to store it separated from combustible materials, bases, organic materials, or any other materials that will react with hydrogen peroxide. Never expose the packaging to heat source
Third, use only plastic pallets. Never use wooden pallet or combustible materials for the base.
Forth, use spill-containment pallet. With this, you do not need to worry if the packaging is leaked or spill happens.
Fifth, do not stack the packaging more than the allowable maximum layer.
Sixth, do not use hydrogen peroxide that has unclear label, production date or specification (concentration).
Seventh, always ensure that vent cap of the packaging functions well. This is critically important for continually releasing gas from the inside of the packaging.
Eighth, never return back remaining hydrogen peroxide that you have taken out from the packaging into its original packaging. If you do this, you may contaminate it.
2. Hydrogen Peroxide Storage Tank Design
If you plan to install storage tank for the hydrogen peroxide, the first thing you have to decide is tank material.
Generally, hydrogen peroxide storage tank material must be stainless steel 304 L or 316 L, aluminum or high density polyethylene (HDPE). These materials have excellent compatibility with hydrogen peroxide.
Other design items that must have by a hydrogen peroxide storage tank are:
- Adequate tank vent capacity
- Purified water or de-mineralized water pipe supply attached to the tank
- Temperature indicator, with alarm is preferable
- Tank shading to prevent direct sunshine
- Water spray for tank outside cooling
- At least two tank level indicators
- Manhole at the bottom of shell and at the top of it for cleaning and maintenance
- Tank ladder with safety cage
- Gasket material must be compatible with hydrogen peroxide like PTFE or Viton
- Equipped with earth grounding
3. How to Store Hydrogen Peroxide in Lab
If you also store hydrogen peroxide in lab, at first you need to ensure bottle used for its packaging, has a vent cap.
For the material, you can choose polyethylene or glass bottle. Storing hydrogen peroxide in dark glass bottle is preferable.
Maybe you want to ask this question: How is hydrogen peroxide stored to minimize decomposition? Common practice on this is hydrogen peroxide stored in a refrigerator.
You can refer to the previous sub title about how to store hydrogen peroxide safely for complete storing or preservation tips.
Lastly, always keep the label. Since it explains its identity clearly.
4. How to Deliver Hydrogen Peroxide with Truck Safely
After you have prepared hydrogen peroxide for your customers, then you need to deliver it to the customer’s site.
Delivery can be carried out by using open truck, wing box or ISO tank container.
Despite any type of trucking you choose, you have to pay attention to the following safety tips:
- Inspect the base of truck. Ensure that there is no sharp object exist. Repair it immediately. Otherwise, it will cause packaging leaking.
- Make sure the truck is in good condition.
- Load the product into the truck carefully to avoid damage.
- Arrange the packaging inside truck in good arrangement to have stable layer
- Do not load the truck more that its maximum capacity
- Do not forget to use forklift safely to move hydrogen peroxide onto the truck
5. How to Dispose Hydrogen Peroxide Safely
If you refer to the MSDS of hydrogen peroxide, you will find a special chapter that describes how to dispose hydrogen peroxide safely not to contaminate the environment.
Basically, hydrogen peroxide does not leave any toxic chemicals when it decomposes. It only results water and oxygen.
But, it does not mean that you can dispose hydrogen peroxide into river or waste water line without treatment. You have to reduce its concentration first to a safe level prior to disposal. You can refer to the MSDS for the maximum concentration limit.
Before disposing, you must decompose the hydrogen peroxide in a special tank or pond until its concentration decrease to allowable maximum concentration for disposal.
To speed up the decomposition rate, you can use stone or pumice stone.
Basic PPE That You Have to Use for Handling Hydrogen Peroxide
What kind of PPE (personal protective equipment) should you use to work with hydrogen peroxide?
Here is the PPE list that you should use:
- Eye goggle with chemical splash protection
- Face shield
- Vinyl glove
- Safety shoes made from durable material
- Work clothing
However, please do not rely on PPE only for the protection. It is the final protection method. The best way to minimize the exposure is by following the hierarchy of hazard control methods.
Understand the Hydrogen Peroxide Storage Life
One last thing that you need to understand is about hydrogen peroxide storage life. Basically, there is no storage life applied for this chemical. As long as its concentration is still stable within your usage limit, you can still use it.
In addition, manufacturers add special chemicals called by stabilizers to make it more stable during preservation. So, as long as you can maintain preservation conditions as recommended, you can hope its concentration will be stable for a certain period of time.
Lastly, hydrogen peroxide concentration you receive is more than the nominal concentration mentioned in technical data sheet. Commonly manufacturer add 1% to 2% above its nominal concentration.
Hydrogen peroxide safety is critically important. In order to achieve this, you have to fully understand its nature and the procedure on how to store, handle, use and dispose it safely. The best way to do this is by understanding the hydrogen peroxide MSDS deeply since all the basic safety information are available in it.