Safety & Handling 

Safety has always been one of Evonik's main concerns. As we have clearly committed ourselves to the Responsible Care Program of the chemical industry, we strive for the highest possible level of safety within our own plants and laboratories as well as those of our customers.

On this page we have summarized the safety risks related to hydrogen peroxide and peracetic acid, its handling and storage. Today, many risks are rather unlikely due to globally accepted technical standard exists.

However, our customers should be aware of the risks and understand the necessity of certain precautions while working with hydrogen peroxide or peracetic acid.

Hydrogen peroxide is a clear colorless liquid, which in appearance resembles water. Therefore, spilled product or hydrogen peroxide in unlabelled containers could erroneously be regarded as water. Hydrogen peroxide is highly corrosive to the skin and eyes. It is a strong oxidizing chemical and, therefore, tends to react rapidly, sometimes even violently with various substances, such as several metals, leather, alkali reagents, etc. Hydrogen peroxide solutions themselves are not flammable. Highly concentrated hydrogen peroxide, however, can ignite inflammable materials, and the oxygen released by decomposition additionally promotes the combustion. Even at low concentrations, ignition can occur under unfavorable conditions after a gradual concentration of the hydrogen peroxide due to the preferred evaporation of water.

Vapors can explode if the hydrogen peroxide concentration in the vapor phase is higher than 26 mol% (40%w/w). Explosions are ignited by sparks, contact with a catalytically active material, or – at temperatures above 150°C – even by catalytically non-active materials. At normal pressure, such vapor compositions can only occur if the hydrogen peroxide concentration of the liquid is 74 wt% or higher and the temperature of the liquid is higher than 100°C.

Explosive and shock-sensitive mixtures can be formed if concentrated hydrogen peroxide comes into contact with organic compounds. According to literature data, there is a general risk of detonations if the content of hydrogen peroxide in the resulting mixture is 25% by weight or above. In any case, appropriate safety precautions must be taken to avoid critical conditions.


As a consequence of the hazards resulting from the properties of hydrogen peroxide it is imperative that all personnel handling hydrogen peroxide receive proper training and instructions for safe handling, first aid and emergency response, which meet the local regulatory standards as well as special requirements. Some basic but essential rules for the handling of hydrogen peroxide are summarized in the table below:

Guidelines and rules for a safe handling of hydrogen peroxide

Rule
Comment

Everybody working with H2O2 should be trained regularly.

It is our policy to eliminate or sufficiently minimize the safety risks to avoid incidents and injuries. Therefore, all personnel should be familiar with properties of this chemical and all resulting necessary precautions including emergency procedures.

Use dedicated equipment.

It is the easiest way to avoid unintended contamination and compatibility issues, which may result potentially fatal accidents.

Only carefully and thoroughly pre-cleaned tanks, pipes, pumps and other equipment should be used.

Even with dedicated equipment it is essential to make sure, that all surfaces which come into contact with H2O2 are cleaned thoroughly. This ensures no contamination takes place.

Avoid any contamination! 

Any contamination with impurities like metals, metal salts, dust, rust, wood or others can accelerate the decomposition.

Avoid higher pH values! 

Like contamination, a higher pH value will increase the decomposition reaction. For optimum stability, the pH range should be below 4.5. Above pH 5, the decomposition increases sharply, so it must be avoided. Any alkali products or caustic solutions have to be kept strictly separate from H2O2.

Protect hydrogen peroxide from heat, direct sunlight and UV radiation. 

Heat, light and radiation can also increase the decomposition process.

Never return any unused or spilled H2O2 into its original container.

H2O2 taken out of its original storage container or tank should never be returned. The risk of unintended contamination of the whole storage volume is just too high.

Make sure that Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is used and emergency showers with eyewash stations are always available nearby!

Every person involved in handling of H2O2 has to wear its PPE (chemical splash proof goggles, gloves, etc). It is necessary to have immediate access to emergency showers and eye wash stations in case of any incident.

Have water hoses available in case of an emergency. 

Besides water for personal safety it is always the method of choice to have plenty of water available for dilution and cooling in case of an emergency.

Never confine hydrogen peroxide in drums, tanks, pipes etc.!

H2O2 always releases gas at a slow rate, resulting if confined, in overpressure. Therefore, it is mandatory to have pressure relief equipment installed in every part of your system.

Monitor temperature of your tanks.

Rising temperature can indicate increased decomposition rate in the tank. The tank should be equipped with temperature meter and high temperature alarm. I case of alarm emergency measures must be taken according to the emergency plan.

Make sure that only compatible and properly pre-treated materials are used.

The most common compatible materials are glassware, Polyethylene, pure Polyvinylchloride, Teflon, stainless steel, pure aluminum. Metals should be pickled and passivated prior to use. For further advice please contact your Evonik representative.

Avoid any contact with flammable, combustible material and organic substances.

H2O2 is a reactive agent and a strong oxidizer. It is very likely that it reacts with combustible, flammable or oxidizable materials, possibly resulting in a violent reaction and start fire.

For further information please consult the MSDS/SDS of your specific product, available from your local Evonik representative. If you require any additional advice please also don’t hesitate to get in touch with your local Evonik expert.