Safety Hazards of Acetone

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Acetone is highly flammable, and should not be handled around sources of ignition.
Acetone is highly flammable, and should not be handled around sources of ignition. (Image: Flammable image by Jauhari Subhi from Fotolia.com)

If you have ever gotten your nails done, then you have most likely encountered acetone. This is more than just a substance that removes old nail polish; it is a hazardous, flammable chemical that can pose occupational safety threats to employees, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Flammability Hazards

It is important for employees to adhere to occupational safety policies when working with acetone, according to the Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety. The reason for this, as this government agency explains, is that acetone is an extremely flammable chemical. It can ignite materials even at room temperature; when it accumulates in confined spaces, there is a risk of toxicity and flammability. To avoid flammability hazards, employees should be trained on how to work with, and properly prepare for, acetone exposure. For instance, eliminating open flames and other ignition sources proximal to the acetone can decrease the hazard of flammability.

Physical Health Hazards

Acetone is low on the toxicity scale for chemicals. Therefore, it has no proven severe, long-term health effects on the human body, according to the Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety. However, following safety precautions will protect against irritating or painful exposure. Wearing protective equipment is also vital, like facemasks, gloves and ventilation devices. If accidental exposure to acetone occurs, such as to eyes or skin, medical attention should be sought immediately.

Reactivity

Since acetone is a flammable solvent, it has a high reactivity level when combined with combustible materials. Explosion can occur when acetone is mixed with hydrogen peroxide, nitric acid and sulfur dichloride, according to Science Lab. Consequently, to avoid occupational safety hazards, employees must know what chemicals to segregate from acetone. Since acetone, in vapor form, is capable of traveling considerable distances to the source of ignition, it is important to confine it to a controlled environment and only around non-combustible materials.

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