Using isopropyl alcohol in the lab

By: March 4th, 2010 Email This Post Print This Post

Q: The MSDS says to use isopropyl alcohol under a hood. Is that standard practice in a lab setting or are there occasions when isopropyl alcohol can be used without an exhaust hood? Also, are there products and services for measuring the air level of isopropyl alcohol in labs? Is this something the lab safety officer can do his/herself or is an expert needed to do this?

A: Isopropyl alcohol TWA is 400 ppm and STEL is 500 ppm.  It would take a huge spill to even come close to those numbers. 

Isopropyl alcohol used in a physician office is usually in one of those brown bottles with the top that dispenses the alcohol onto a cotton ball when you press down on it.  Overexposure in that small quantity would not be an issue.  Most physician offices and labs that use isopropyl alcohol do so with preps that are in single packages which are torn open and used and then thrown away, so there would not be any overexposure.

If you thought there was an overexposure you could get a vapor badge to check the levels and then the safety officer could send it off for testing or you could get a continuous monitor.  If you don’t have access to that equipment then you would have to hire an outside firm to check the levels.


By pam dembski hart on March 9th, 2010 at 9:30 am

This response should have included that “the little brown bottle” must be labeled appropriately with the required secondard label(identity, NFPA diamond and target organs (and not just labeled “Alcohol or “isopropyl alcohol” Those “little brown bottles” are usually aproblem for that very reason.. not to mention they are glass.. there is a better way to store iso alcohol other than in a glass bottle. The responder was remiss in that she didnt mention some of the other issues(hazards) with iso as well


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