Pyrophoric Material Handling-Environmental Health & Safety - Carnegie Mellon University

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Pyrophoric Material Handling

Some years ago, the university developed a Pyrophoric Handling Policy to address this very high hazard work. 

Some important elements of the policy are worth reminding you all:

  1. Pyrophoric materials include metal alkyls, aryls, and carbonyls.  Also, alkali metals, finely divided metal powders, metal hydrides and certain non-metal hydrides.  Also, white and red phosphorus.
  2. In addition to the flammability issues (the materials may ignite on contact with air or water) there may also be issues of toxicity, corrosivity or peroxide formation.
  3. Safety practices should include:
  • Reading and familiarization with the Safety Data Sheets for the materials.
  • Preparation of a Particularly Hazardous Substance (PHS) procedure.
  • NEVER work alone with pyrophoric materials.
  • Appropriate protective equipment is ESSENTIAL.  This includes eye and skin protection, and a flame-resistant lab coat.  It is also critical that no synthetic clothing be worn under the lab coat—these materials will melt and embed into the skin causing severe burns.

If you work with pyrophoric materials PLEASE read and remind yourself of the important safety requirements of our Pyrophoric Handling Policy.  Where they are indicated, the presence of a flame-resistant lab coat will be an inspection item in your annual EH&S audit.