Acetone: The Hidden Hazard
Posted on June 18, 2013 | in Safety
What Is Acetone?
Acetone, also known as propanone, is a clear, colorless liquid that is highly flammable. It is not necessarily a household word, but this will ring a bell: nail polish remover. Acetone is also used as a degreaser, for thinning fiber glass resin, and helps remove adhesives and vinyl resins. While it is a widely used product, and is even made in our bodies, acetone is considered a hazardous waste material and needs to be handled and disposed of properly. The potential negative health effects are skin, eye and lung irritation. Long-term exposure can result in dry, cracked skin and possible damage to the nervous system. Here is a sample MSDS for acetone in the GHS format (not for official use). For more SDS information about acetone and other chemicals, try our SDS/MSDS search tool.
What Is Acetone Used For?
The majority of the world’s acetone is used as a solvent, but it also has laboratory, medical, cosmetic and other uses. Acetone’s most well-known use is in nail salons, but it appears in many other industries:
- Printing – as a cleaning solvent
- Adhesives Manufacturing – most commonly in carpet adhesives
- Wood Stains and Varnishes – for varnish solvents – very common in households
- Paint Stripping – as a solvent, also common in households
- Polystyrene Manufacture – for polystyrene production
- Machinery Manufacture and Repair – as a cleaning solvent
- SBR Latex Production – as a solvent
- Electroplating – as a vapor degreaser and cold-cleaning solvent
Acetone Safety Tips
Below are some tips on how to stay safe when using acetone. Try our SDS/MSDS search tool.
- Make sure the area in which the acetone is used is well-ventilated
- Wear proper PPEs (gloves, goggles, mask)
- If you work with acetone on a surface, make sure the surface it’s a surface that doesn’t soak up the liquid
- If you use acetone in your business, make sure you have got the proper licensing in place to do so
Acetone is a common item, but it can pose some serious risks, particularly in regard to its high flammability. By taking these simple steps, you can ensure a safe environment any time you use acetone.
If you need to store your acetone, do so with a tight-fitting lid and store in a space where there are no electrical outlets, stoves, or heat-producing sources. As stated above, acetone is highly flammable and can be ignited from a distance.
If your business uses a large quantity of acetone, you’ll need to consult with your local fire department to ascertain how to store your acetone in a manner that accommodates large amounts of the liquid and also to determine if the acetone needs to be in a fireproof container.
How to Dispose of Acetone
Acetone disposal needs to be handled according to how much is being used. If you are using acetone for a small item, like removing nail polish, you can dispose them in a metal container lined with a plastic garbage bag; this bag can then be placed with regular garbage. However, if you have a fully saturated cotton ball or rag, you need to squeeze the excess acetone liquid into a container that will seal tightly, double-bag the material and then place into a regular garbage bag.
To dispose of liquid acetone, you need to take the acetone to a hazardous waste treatment, storage, disposal or recycling facility (TSDR) drop off site or contract with a TSDR to pick it up from your business. To find a hazardous waste disposal facility in your regional area, visit the Environmental Protection Agency website at www.epa.gov.
For more information on acetone and other hazardous chemicals call 1-888-362-2007.