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Bases are proton-acceptor substances and include metal oxides, hydroxides or compounds, such as ammonia, that give hydroxide ions (OH-) in aqueous solution.

12.2.1 Hazards of Bases

Strong basic or alkaline substances such as potassium hydroxide (13.5 pH in 0.1 molar aqueous solution) or sodium hydroxide (45-75 percent solution) gelatinize tissue to form soluble compounds that are difficult to remove and can cause deep destruction.

12.2.2 Handling Procedures for Bases

Work with bases should be performed in the chemical fume hood. Gloves, lab coat and safety glasses must be worn. If handling strong bases, neoprene or nitrile gloves, a neoprene apron and a face shield with chemical splash goggles should be worn. If inhalation hazard exists, a respirator with the appropriate cartridges should be worn.

12.2.3 Storage of Bases

Bases should be stored in safety cabinets and can be stored with flammables, but not if volatile poisons are present. If safety cabinet space is limited, bases can be stored in tubs or trays inside a general storage cabinet.

12.2.4 Disposal of Bases

Some bases (such as potassium and sodium hydroxide) can be neutralized and sewered; see Chapter VI, Hazardous Waste Directory. Other bases (such as aluminum hydroxide) cannot be sewered and must be labeled and collected by EH&S.

12.2.5 Emergency Response: Exposure

  • Skin: Remove contaminated clothing and flush affected area with copious amounts of water for 15 minutes. If skin is injured, go to a hospital ER.

  • Eyes/Face: Rinse with eyewash for 15 minutes holding eyelids open. If eyes were exposed, visit physician for evaluation.

Complete an Accident-Illness Report Form as soon as possible and mail to EH&S at J3-200.

12.2.6 Emergency Response: Spills

While wearing safety goggles, gloves, and a lab coat, absorb a small spill with a dampened towel. For large spills (>200 ml), call EH&S for clean-up.