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Author: Subject: Liquid Bromine Accident
Loptr
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shocked.gif posted on 26-7-2019 at 09:38
Liquid Bromine Accident


So I had my first major lab accident. I was going through one of my corrosive cabinets to move the contents onto a bench, so that I could get behind the cabinet. I grabbed a bottle of Br2 that had well over 500ml (I get a little carried away sometimes...), and started to pull it out of the cabinet. Now, recently, I had also bagged this bottle of Br2, so that I could tell if it was leaking, which it seemed to be doing alright. Well, I had also heat sealed the bag. When I grabbed the bottle, my hand was mostly holding onto the bottle above the heat seal line, when suddenly the heat seal tore. The bottle falls from my hand, still very much contained in the bag, and hits the shelve, flips over and falls onto the floor in front of the cabinet. The bottle seemed to bounce, which is from the floor being covered in a plastic tile, which didn't break it. However, when it bounced, it bounced into the cabinet and broke the side wall of the bottle.

Time came to a crawl, and my only thought was "Oh Shit!"... I was standing there trying to think of what to do, because the vapors had already started to roll, and my other chemicals were locked up in cabinets downwind from the spill, and I knew I wouldnt be able to get into them and still be able to breath.

So i grabbed a fan and decided to get some air moving towards the exterior pull up door. It was strong! Omg. I hate the smell of halogens, especially bromine because it's almost a musty smell. Eventually grabbed some long sleeve PVC gloves that I have and was able to get the bottle/bag into a PVC bucket with some water (didn't want to loose all of it...), and then proceeded to try and absorb it with bicarbonate, and then added some water to make it react and form bromide and bromate.

This was bad. Very bad. I am still cleaning up the mess it has left behind. It ate into the concrete floor and left a large divit.

Anyway, that's what I have been dealing with this week.

Very irresponsible of me. I will no longer be keeping such large quantities of similar chemicals on hand.

Thankfully Br2 is very volatile, and most of it was able to be evaporated and sent out the door.

Never again.

[Edited on 26-7-2019 by Loptr]




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happyfooddance
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[*] posted on 26-7-2019 at 10:32


Make sure to take your vitamin C ;)
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Abromination
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[*] posted on 26-7-2019 at 11:58


Half a liter of bromine?! I think you are very lucky to have escaped with your life!
Maybe thats a hyperbole of a statement, but thats a lot of bromine.




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Schleimsäure
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[*] posted on 26-7-2019 at 13:13


I also have half a liter of bromine. I refilled into a VWR flask, I think they have in most cases PTFE liners in the cap.
Works very well, even with the elevated temperatures. Doesn't stink at all. Of course there is some vapor pressure and opening it produces a good cloud shooting out.
But it holds the bromine very well (for years now), recommendation of a VWR reagent bottle for everybody who doesn't want to ampule.




Sorry to hear that your flask broke. The positive, nothing serious happened.

P.S. I always have a liter of thiosulfate solution ready, maybe I should make a little more.

[Edited on 26-7-2019 by Schleimsäure]
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XeonTheMGPony
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[*] posted on 26-7-2019 at 16:46


I have an SCBA system for my lab, and a dual cartridge mask with halogen rated filters.

Store all dangerous chemicals at floor level! for this reason, can't fall if it is all ready lowest energy state.
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Metacelsus
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[*] posted on 26-7-2019 at 22:39


I once spilled a few drops of bromine on my wrist while taking apart glassware after a distillation. Even though I immediately washed it off, it still left an itchy brown stain on my skin that lasted for a few weeks.

500 mL is quite a different story, though. Glad to hear you weren't seriously injured.




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Loptr
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[*] posted on 27-7-2019 at 08:44


Quote: Originally posted by Metacelsus  
I once spilled a few drops of bromine on my wrist while taking apart glassware after a distillation. Even though I immediately washed it off, it still left an itchy brown stain on my skin that lasted for a few weeks.

500 mL is quite a different story, though. Glad to hear you weren't seriously injured.


Thanks! Yeah, I am fine. Really freaked me out, though.




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Loptr
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[*] posted on 27-7-2019 at 19:19


Why did the bromine stain things red? I am specifically talking about the plastic floor tile, and the pvc bucket. That cant be free bromine, can it? It didnt clear up with a thiosulfate solution.

[Edited on 28-7-2019 by Loptr]




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[*] posted on 27-7-2019 at 19:30


Quote: Originally posted by Loptr  
Why did the bromine stain things red? I am specifically talking about the plastic floor tile, and the pvc bucket. That cant be free bromine, can it? It didnt clear up with a thiosulfate solution.

[Edited on 28-7-2019 by Loptr]

Maybe it permeated the plastic layers and you are seeing free bromine underneath. The thiosulfate may just not be able to pass through the plastic.




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--------------------------------
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[*] posted on 28-7-2019 at 08:22


It will probably fade with time as the bromine diffuses back out. I also wouldn't be surprised if the area ends up bleached white. I briefly stored bromine in a GL45 bottle with a blue cap, and it permeated all the way through the cap with a dark bromine stain. Later, bromine diffused out leaving a white circle where the plastic was once blue.
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[*] posted on 31-7-2019 at 13:03


You might consider getting a emergency spill kit (e.g. from 3M) - these are sorbents to quickly contain the spill. Not sure how it would stand against bromine though.

I try to keep a neutralization agent at hand. When pulling bottles of acid, I keep baking soda at hand. When working with bromine compounds, I have sodium thiosulfate soln. at hand. Etc...

Also I keep some bottles in large zip-loc bags even though it's an extra hassle.

Hope you are well now.

[Edited on 31-7-2019 by nimgoldman]
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Loptr
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[*] posted on 1-8-2019 at 09:07


Things are good now. The smell has largely gone away. I have spent the last few days washing everything down. It is amazing how much everything corroded. Little whet spots of corrosion all over the place.



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[*] posted on 1-8-2019 at 11:51


Good to hear everthing is more or less cleaned up now.

Imagine that, in Germany in a school, when a 25ml flask of bromine falls to the floor and breaks, they evacuate the school and shut off the whole complex and half of the local fire department and a hazmat team with special vehicels arrives.
Costs the taxpayer some 10.000s Euros everytime in similar cases.
Only 30 years ago, the pupils of the chemistry class would have left the room and the teacher had cleaned off the few mls with some thiosulfate and opened the windows for a day.
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