Q:

How do you clean up acid spills?

A:

Cleaning up spilled acid requires disposing of the material in a plastic or glass container with a sealable lid; a chemical neutralizer should be used if the spilled acid is in liquid form. Safe clean-up requires the use of eye and skin protection, such as goggles, acid-resistant gloves, shoe covers and a lab coat. Ensure all sources of ignition are turned off before beginning the clean-up process.

Limbs can suffer serious damage when exposed to spilled acid. If the material is dry, it can simply be collected in a container of plastic or glass for disposal.

For a liquid spill, apply a spill pillow, pad or other absorbent agent to keep the spill from spreading. Then, add the neutralizing agent to the acid spill. Weak bases, like calcium carbonate, sodium carbonate and sodium bicarbonate are ideal. The neutralizer should be added slowly from the edges inward to prevent splattering. After adding the neutralizing agent, mix with a spatula or similar tool.

To ensure the mixture is neutralized, a pH test should be conducted. According to the Environmental and Health Safety Department of the University of Iowa, a pH reading of 6 to 8 is no longer hazardous. At this point, the acid can be absorbed, sealed away, labeled and left for collection. The area of the spill should be ventilated and cleaned with detergent and water.


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