Nitric acid fumes. Image credit

ZIMSEC O Level Biology Notes:Causes of accidents in the laboratory

  • Fire – There should never be open flames in the lab. Make it a working rule that water is the only nonflammable liquid you are likely to encounter.
  • Explosion – Never heat a closed system or conduct a reaction in a closed system (unless specifically directed to perform the latter process and then only with frequent venting).
  • Chemical and Thermal Burns – Many inorganic chemicals such as the mineral acids and alkalis are corrosive to the skin and eyes.
  • Cuts – All broken glassware should be discarded into the ‘broken glass container’
  • Absorption of Chemicals – Keep chemicals off the skin. Many organic substances are not corrosive, do not burn the skin, or seem to have any serious effects. They are, however, absorbed through the skin, sometimes with dire consequences. Always wear gloves.
  • Inhalation of Chemicals – Keep your nose away from chemicals.
  • Ingestion of Chemicals – The common ways of accidentally ingesting harmful chemicals are: (1) by pipette, (2) from dirty hands, (3) contaminated food or drink and (4) food use of chemicals taken from the laboratory. Pipettes must be fitted with suction bulbs to transfer chemicals. DO NOT USE MOUTH SUCTION.

To access more topics go to the O Level Biology Notes page