Glass Waste Bottle Ruptures, Possible Reaction of Incompatible Chemical Wastes

Key Instruction Points 

  • Chemical containers should be triple rinsed and dry before being used for waste accumulation.

  • Wear safety glasses while in the laboratory, even while performing non-laboratory work.

A graduate student sitting at a lab computer was surprised by a chemical waste bottle which burst and sprayed nitric acid and shards of glass all over the lab.

Approximately two liters of nitric acid waste had been accumulated in a chemical waste bottle which originally contained methanol. Over the course of 12-16 hours, it is likely that some residual methanol reacted with the nitric acid waste and created enough carbon dioxide to over pressurize the container. Two other waste containers in the hood were severely damaged and several others were cracked ​​or leaking.

Fortunately, the laboratory worker was not injured.

Chemical containers should be triple rinsed and dry before being used for waste accumulation. Safety glasses should always be worn while in the laboratory, even while performing non-laboratory work.​​