I've been using chloroform for NMRs since sophomore organic chemistry. Why should I worry about such common solvents?
Chloroform, dichloromethane, and many other halogenated organic compounds readily pass through nitrile gloves. This means that the disposable gloves most people wear every day in laboratories provide no protection from chloroform and dichloromethane, and small splashes can result in exposure. And these chemicals are known or suspected carcinogens and teratogens.
The interaction of chloroform and dichloromethane with different glove polymers is shown below on glove manufacturer’s chemical compatibility charts.
Polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) gloves provide good protection, but their thickness can make some lab techniques difficult. The “Working with Thick Gloves” guide illustrates how to incorporate PVA gloves into chemical handling while maintaining manual dexterity.
Dichloromethane is included with the following chlorinated compounds among the OSHA-listed carcinogens. This means that lab-specific training and a Standard Operating Procedure are required before your lab can begin using these chemicals. The OSHA standard also requires carcinogen storage for the lab or part of the lab where the chemical(s) will be stored and used.
|dichloromethane (methylene chloride)||methyl chloromethyl ether||3,3′-dichlorobenzidene (and its salts)|
|bis-chloromethyl ether||vinyl chloride||1,2-dibromo-3-chloropropane|
Chloroform is suspected to be a human carcinogen and is known to be carcinogenic to animals.
- chloroform (CAS# 67-66-3)
- dichloromethane (also called methylene chloride; CAS# 75-09-2)
- carbon tetrachloride (CAS# 56-23-5)
- chlorobenzene (CAS# 108-90-7)
- perchloroethylene (also called PERC; CAS# 127-18-4)
- trichloroethylene (CAS# 79-01-6)