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What chemicals should you be aware of in the lab?


You will likely come into contact with many different chemicals as a lab technician. Below is a list of the usual chemicals used in laboratories.


Acids are common in labs because they aid in chemical reactions and can be used to prepare other substances for analysis. Nitric acid, sulfuric acid, hydrochloric acid, acetic acid and other strong acids and bases. These can cause chemical burns or blindness if they come into contact with your skin or eyes. Even mineral acids like hydrochloric acid or sulfuric acid, which may not be very strong, can react with other chemicals creating dangerous fumes.

Alcohol can cause chemical burns as well as flammable fires. Alcohols are organic compounds that contain oxygen and hydrogen. They have one or more hydroxyl (-OH) functional groups. Common examples of alcohols include methanol (wood alcohol) and ethanol. They are commonly used as solvents.


Acetone is often found in nail polish remover. If you breathe in large amounts of acetone, it can cause dizziness and nausea. It can also irritate your eyes and skin. Acetone is flammable, so wear protective clothing when working with it.


Ammonia is used as a cleaning agent in many labs because it can easily remove surface dirt and stains. Ammonia has a strong odour and can irritate the eyes and lungs if inhaled. It can also cause burns if it comes into contact with your skin. It should not be mixed with other chemicals or gases because it could create toxic fumes or even explosions.


Alkaline solutions

These include sodium hydroxide and potassium hydroxide, which are used for cleaning glassware and other equipment. They can cause eye irritation and burns on contact with the skin. They are also corrosive to metals like lead or iron.


Cadmium is an element that exists in several different forms, including cadmium sulphide (CdS), cadmium selenide (CdSe), cadmium telluride (CdTe), and cadmium zinc telluride (CZT). This chemical is dangerous because it's highly toxic to humans, and proper precautions should be taken when handling it.

Aluminium chloride

This chemical is used as an oxidizing agent to remove stains from glassware or equipment. It's corrosive to human tissue, so avoid contact with it as much as possible.


Ethyl Ether is used in ether distillation, a method for purifying liquids by boiling them with water at 100°C. The resulting solution will have a lower boiling point than pure water. If you breathe in large amounts of ethyl ether, it can cause dizziness and nausea. It can also irritate your eyes and skin and is flammable, so wear protective clothing when working with it.


Some chemicals found in the lab are cancerogenic. The examples of them are:

Formaldehyde is used for preserving tissue samples and is used in embalming fluid. Formaldehyde can cause eye irritation and headaches.

Lead is a heavy metal used in batteries, paints and many other products. It can cause memory loss, kidney problems and blood disorders.


Benzene is a colourless liquid that evaporates quickly when exposed to air. It is used as a solvent and linked to leukaemia, bone marrow disease and other cancerous cells within the body.


Trichloroethylene can irritate the eyes, nose, throat and skin if exposed directly by touching or inhaling large amounts of this substance into your lungs.


All carcinogenic substances should be avoided in the laboratory, but if they must be used, all possible precautions should be taken to ensure that exposure does not occur. Every lab worker must be informed of what chemicals are used and get training on the emergency procedures in case of spillage or another accident.

When working in a lab, you're constantly at risk of exposure to dangerous chemicals. Whether in the air or on your skin, these chemicals can affect your health—and even cause long-term damage if they're not handled correctly.


The above list of laboratory chemicals is not exhaustive. It's essential to learn about all the chemicals you have in your lab before starting a project so that you know what safety precautions to take when using them! Always use the substances according to the manufacturers' instructions! Always presume you are dealing with dangerous substances even if they are not labelled with the Hazard or Risk and Safety symbols.

If someone else has an accident, you must be familiar with all the chemicals used in the lab, even if you don't personally deal with some of them.


Always handle chemicals with care and ensure you use personal protective equipment to be safe at the laboratory. Head to Parrotias.com to find much high-quality protective gear, such as gloves, goggles, masks and coveralls, which will keep you safe from the hazards of chemicals.


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