Phosphoric acid, also known as orthophosphoric acid (H3PO4), is one of the most widely known and used acids in agricultural, industrial and food applications. Phosphoric acid is a colourless, odourless, sparkling liquid or transparent, depending on concentration and temperature. It is used as an additive to acidify foods and beverages including various colas, providing a tangy or sour taste. Phosphoric acid also functions as a rust inhibitor, a dental and industrial etchant, as fertilizer feedstock and is an ingredient in home cleaning products.
What are the stability and reactivity hazards of phosphoric acid?
- Chemical Stability: Normally stable.
- Conditions to Avoid: Heat.
- Incompatible Materials: Reacts violently with: strong bases (e.g. sodium hydroxide). Increased risk of fire and explosion on contact with: strong oxidizing agents (e.g. perchloric acid).
- Forms flammable chemicals on contact with: metals (e.g. aluminum). Corrosive to: carbon steel, aluminum alloys, and other metals.
- Hazardous Decomposition Products: None known.
- Possibility of Hazardous Reactions: None known.
What are accidental release measures for phosphoric acid?
- Personal Precautions: Keep unnecessary and unprotected personnel out of spill area. Ventilate area. Use personal protective equipment as required.
- Methods for Containment and Clean-up: Do not touch spilled material. Stop or reduce leak if safe to do so. Contain and soak up spill with absorbent that does not react with spilled product. Dike spilled product to prevent runoff. Small spills or leaks: neutralize with sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3) or a mixture of soda ash/slaked lime. Collect using shovel/scoop or approved HEPA vacuum and place in a suitable container for disposal. Large spills or leaks: place used absorbent into suitable, covered, labelled containers for disposal. Collect using shovel/scoop or approved HEPA vacuum and place in a suitable container for disposal.
What handling and storage practices should be used when working with phosphoric acid?
- Handling: Before handling, it is important that all engineering controls are operating and that protective equipment requirements and personal hygiene measures are being followed. Only use where there is adequate ventilation. Avoid generating vapours or mists. Immediately report leaks, spills or failures of the safety equipment (e.g. ventilation system). If product is transferred to another container, ensure new container is suitable for the product. Prevent accidental contact with incompatible chemicals. Never add water to a corrosive. Always add corrosives slowly to COLD water. Never reuse empty containers, even if they appear to be clean.
- Storage: Store in an area that is: cool, dry, well-ventilated, out of direct sunlight and away from heat and ignition sources, separate from incompatible materials. Keep amount in storage to a minimum. Shelving, floors, walls, etc. should be made from materials that resist attack from phosphoric acid. Store in the original, labelled, shipping container. Store in tightly closed, properly labelled containers. Regularly inspect for physical changes or signs of crystallization, damage or leaks. Contain spills or leaks by storing containers in trays made from compatible materials. Install pressure and vacuum-relief venting in all drums. Equip storage tank vents with a flame arrestor. Do not handle swollen drums.
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