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. 
In this chapter 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.


Safety

Hydrogen peroxide is a clear colorless liquid, which resembles water. Therefore, spilled product or hydrogen peroxide in unlabeled containers could erroneously be regarded as water. Hydrogen peroxide is corrosive to the skin and eyes as well as to metal surfaces. It is a strong oxidizing chemical and, therefore, tends to react rapidly, sometimes even violently with various substances. 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 evaporation of water.

Vapors can explode if the hydrogen peroxide concentration in the vapor phase is higher than 26mol% (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 74wt%w/w 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 data in the literature, 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. 

Handling 

As a consequence of the properties of hydrogen peroxide and the safety aspects outlined in the previous chapters some basic rules for the handling of hydrogen peroxide are summarized as follow:

Rule

Comment

Everybody working with H2O2 should be trained to do so. 

It is our policy to avoid safety risks and incidents wherever possible. Therefore, all personnel should be familiar with all necessary precautions and properties of this chemical.  

Use dedicated equipment only.

It is the easiest way to avoid unintended contamination and compatibility problems.

Only carefully pre-cleaned drums, tubes, 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 carefully.

Avoid any contamination! 

Any contamination with impurities like metal salts, dust, rust, wood, equipment or others is likely to accelerate the decomposition process.

Avoid higher pH values! 

Like contamination, a pH value of 5 or above will increase the decomposition reaction. Any alkali products or caustic solutions have to be avoided.

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

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

Never return H2O2 to 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 are available nearby!

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

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 or cooling in case of an emergency.

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

H2O2 always tends to develop overpressure. Therefore, it is mandatory to have pressure relief equipment installed in every part of your system.

Keep storage temperature under surveillance. 

Increasing temperature is an excellent indicator for problems in a tank.

Make sure that only compatible working materials are used. 

The most common compatible materials are glassware, Polyethylene, Polyvinylchloride, Teflon, stainless steel, pure aluminum.

Avoid any contact with inflammable material and organic substances. 

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