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Inside this issue:

Environmental Health
& Safety


Medical Center
630 West 168th Street,
Mailbox #8
New York, NY  10032
Phone:  (212) 305-6780

Morningside Campus
S.W. Mudd Building, Suite 350
New York, NY  10027
Phone:  (212) 854-8749

FDNY Revises List of Peroxide-Formers  by Juliet Ogbonnaya

Certain classes of chemicals (ethers, furans) spontaneously form peroxides upon exposure to oxygen in ambient air.  Over time, the peroxides will crystallize in proportion to the age of the material. Crystallized peroxides are extremely sensitive and may explode when subjected to friction or shock.  Due to the reactive nature of these chemicals, FDNY regulates their storage and handling to reduce the risk of peroxide formation.

Laboratories must safely manage peroxide formers by dating the bottles once opened and discarding them when they reach the end of their allowable storage time.  Some manufacturers pre-label peroxide-forming chemicals (e.g. diethyl ether, tetrahydorfuran) with an expiration date.  These chemicals should be disposed in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations if their limits more conservative than the FDNY’s.  See, for the FDNY peroxide formers list.

Recently, secondary alcohols were removed from the FDNY’s list of peroxide formers and therefore, laboratories are no longer required to note the opening date on containers of 2-Propanol (aka isopropyl alcohol, propan-2-ol, isopropanol, IPA) or other secondary alcohols such as 2-butanol and 2-pentanol.

For safety reasons, testing of expired peroxide-forming chemicals is discouraged. Expired chemicals should instead be properly discarded by submitting an Online Chemical Waste Pick-Up Form.   For any questions, concerns, or assistance, please contact your Laboratory Safety Officer for your particular building.

Black-out Curtain Installation  by John LaPerche

Black out curtains used in laboratories must have the same type of fire protection as those used in places of public assembly, per the NYC Fire Code. There are two ways to provide this protection: have curtains treated with a fire resistant chemical, or use material that is inherently fire resistant (IFR).  EH&S has opted to use the latter approach-IFR curtains.  Although the initial cost may be greater, IFR material provides several advantages. Flame resistance is documented at the time of installation; IFR curtains do not require any fire safety maintenance - as long as they hang, no matter how many times they are cleaned - they maintain their fire resistant qualities.  A combustible curtain, treated with a fire resistant chemical, would have to be retreated each time it was cleaned.  Even without cleaning, the curtains must be tested annually and retreated every three years.  Each test and retreatment requires new documentation from the vendor resulting in an interruption in lab activities, potential exposure to harmful chemicals, additional time spent on arranging for these services, and additional costs.  

Once an IFR curtain is installed, records of each curtain’s unique ID number and location are maintained by EH&S; a copy will be provided to each lab. These curtains enhance the safety of all our fellow Columbians and if that wasn’t enough, they look good too.

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