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Should I Purchase This Chemical?

Some questions any lab manager or professional at the collegiate, university, or high school levels might want to consider prior to purchasing chemicals.

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Some questions any lab manager or professional at the collegiate, university, or high school levels might want to consider prior to purchasing chemicals.

Has your state or district started to prohibit the use of certain chemicals in your science laboratory? This is a growing problem! Banning chemicals from the school science laboratory without giving thought to how often the chemical is used, its educational value, or its hazard level, is similar to banning a textbook from the classroom.

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Chemicals in any form can be safely stored, handled or used if the physical, chemical and hazardous properties are fully understood and the necessary precautions, including the use of proper safeguards and personal protective equipment, are observed.

What is the relative hazard level of the chemical?

Is the chemical water - or air - reactive? Is it corrosive, flammable, or hazardous by inhalation? Is the chemical irritating to body tissue or carcinogenic? In other words, how can these chemicals hurt me?

How often is the chemical used in laboratory activities such as experiments and/or demonstrations?

Is the chemical commonly used in a school setting?

What is the educational value of using the chemical?

What specific topic or lesson does the chemical help teach or illustrate? If the chemical is commonly used in other laboratory activities, you can generally say it has educational value. If the chemical is infrequently used and extremely hazardous, then we suggest you review the specific laboratory activity to judge its educational value for yourself. Further investigation may identify a less hazardous substitute. Only you, the teaching professional, can ultimately decide the chemical’s educational value.

Have I used this substance before?

Am I familiar with the use of the chemical? Have I tried the experiment before? Do I feel comfortable using this chemical? Remember, try all experiments and demonstrations first before using them in the classroom.

Is my laboratory facility equipped for the safe use of this chemical?

Do I have the correct type and size fire extinguisher? Do I have an eyewash? Is my room properly ventilated, etc., etc.…?

Source: Flinn Scientific Inc.