2021 Volume 40 Issue 1 Pages 15-24
This report comprehensively explores the risks of organic solvents as both fire and health hazards based on the results of "working environment measurements", as specified in Japan's safety and health laws. The results in 2018 and 2019 in our chemical laboratory determined that the lids of many waste solvent containers were open, which may potentially result in both fire and health hazards. When organic solvents volatilize to fill a laboratory, the vapor may be markedly harmful to human health. Although the conditions in our laboratory have improved by 2020, our laboratory mainly uses methanol and acetone, both of which are highly flammable and could ignite to cause a fire. It should be noted that vaporizing liquid organic solvents and other gases are not under the purview of the Fire Service Act on Hazardous Materials (in Japan), which is limited to condensed or liquid phases with ignition and explosive properties. In this context, herein, we summarized the health hazards and fire hazards of organic solvents (category 4), including methanol, acetone and N,N-dimethylformamide, by analyzing the results of working environment measurements in our laboratory over a period of several years. From the perspective of health and fire safety, it is imperative to focus on strategies to mitigate the risks of organic solvents in chemical laboratories. The correlation of both aspects is also discussed based on the results.