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Question: Can you give some recommendations on a chemical storage cabinet for our home?
We just moved into a new house, at our old house the chemicals (wrongly) sat on a wooden shelf with easy access. We know we need to store chemicals for our pool and garden properly and all locked up (especially with grand kids around). Any advice would be appreciated! Allen, Gulfport, Mississippi
Answer: Allen, storing chemicals in a lockable cabinet in their proper containers is a must for chemical safety.
However, DO NOT combine your lawn chemicals – insecticides, pesticides, herbicides and fungicides in the same chemical locker as your pool chemicals. You need separate chemical storage cabinets for each of these functions.
The chemicals may both be hazardous but serve to very different needs and you DO NOT want to take a chance of them being used improperly.
Storing garden and pool chemicals in a storage locker or cabinet provides a safety factor but also code compliance even with small quantities of hazardous material. Effectively safe-guarding potentially dangerous chemicals complies with Health and Safety requirements and regulations.
It does not matter if we are talking about a home, business, nursery, greenhouse, farm or any type of service application or you just want safety and protection for children – locking up chemicals is a must!
Picking a Cabinet for Chemical Storage
When selecting units or safety storage cabinets for chemical storage of pesticide, herbicides, fertilizers, combustible liquids, corrosive chemicals, toxic chemicals, and other hazardous chemicals, you need to find those that best fit your needs.
The choosing of a proper chemical cabinet is essential for compliance of codes, risk management and maximum service life. Cabinets come in a variety of sizes, colors, shelf, door and lock styles as well as construction materials. Avoid flammable storage cabinets as they won’t be able to reduce the when issues took place in the containment of these hazardous materials.
Most homeowners will not need something big enough to hold a 55 gallon drum but needs to be large enough to hold many of the 1 gallon and smaller containers found at most garden supply stores.
This cabinet should keep chemicals and other flammable materials locked up to protect individuals, the environment and restrict pesticide handling to authorized and trained users.
Most commercial chemical cabinets from companies like JustRite are double-walled, heavy-duty, welded of 18-gauge steel construction and include a locking mechanism. Storage shelves should support 200 lbs. each and be equipped with a corrosion-resistant polyethylene trays.
The stainless steel shelves should also adjust to accommodate a wide variety of containers. The cabinet and its doors should also meet OSHA and NFPA code 30 requirements.
Chemicals, which are usually flammable liquids, should always be stored in original containers. When handling chemicals wear proper personal protective equipment including resistant goggles or face shields especially when handling corrosives.
Never store chemicals on the top shelf of a storage unit. The storage should be no higher than eye level. Safety cabinets should be off the floor so moisture will not be a problem.
By centralizing storage chemical, inventory can be accurately maintained and also prevent incompatible chemical storage – such as mixing garden chemicals and pool chemicals.
When storing chemicals keep them only in containers which are chemically compatible to prevent leakage or damage. Dispose of any out of date chemicals as they can become unstable. Consider a retention tray to absorb liquids inside the chemical storage unit.
Apart from choosing the right flammable cabinet, segregating incompatible materials is important to avoid accidental mixing which may cause fire, explosion, and creation of toxic gases. Such scenarios may occur if the incompatible chemicals in the safe storage mix due to:
- Accidental breakage
- Container failure
- Poorly closed containers
- Improperly labeled containers
Below lists two groups that can be kept together in corrosive cabinets as secondary containment.
Flammable liquids – ex. alcohol, acetone, benzene, ethyl acetate, xylene.
Compressed gases – ex. oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen, arsine.
Volatile poison – ex. toxins, poisons, carcinogens.
Acids – ex. acid corrosives, oxidizing acids, sulfuric acid, chromic acid, nitric acid, acetic acid, perchloric acid, picric acid, fulminic acid.
Liquid bases – ex. sodium hydroxide, ammonium hydroxide, calcium hydroxide
Liquid oxidizers – ex. hydrogen peroxide, ammonium persulfate.
Non-volatile liquid poisons – ex. acrylamide solutions, uncured epoxy resins, triethanolamine.
Dry solids – ex. oxalic acid, cyanide.
Metal hydrides and pyrophorics (water-reactive chemicals) – ex. calcium hydride, sodium borohydride.
Before handling any chemical – READ THE LABEL – and follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer. Wear protective clothing, and safety googles.
Keep the MSDS – (Material Safety Data Sheets) handy as this information is vital for first aid or contact the manufacturer/supplier for assistance. You must be responsible for the chemicals you handle and their storage areas.
A chemical storage cabinet is a tool which must be used properly. When used correctly chemicals are safe and you can rest easier knowing the chemicals are secure and properly managed.