Usually, a universal spill kit, a biohazard spill kit, or an oil spill kit, will get the job done of absorbing and cleaning up a spill. The following six substances however require specific tools or procedures to be used in the clean-up process. (Remember to refer to Safety Data Sheet’s and OSHA’s guidelines to these specific chemicals if you have any questions or concerns.)
- Acid chlorides will require you to use an absorbent that is specifically designed for acid chlorides. Acid chlorides are water reactive, so it will be important to avoid introducing water into the compound and neutralize the chemical as the reaction may be vigorous.
- A Bromine spill will need to be neutralized with a 5% solution of sodium thiosulfate and then absorbed with inert absorbent material.
- The first step to cleaning up a spill of Alkali metals (lithium, sodium, magnesium, potassium) will be to smother the spill with dry sand or to cover the spill with contents from a Class “D” fire extinguisher (the preferred extinguishing method). It is also important to note that contact with water must be avoided.
- Hydrofluoric acid will have to either be neutralized with soda ash or lime, or the spill needs to be absorbed with a special hydrofluoric spill pillow. The spill will then need to be absorbed with inert absorbent material.
- Phosphorus (white or yellow) should be blanketed with wet sand or other wet absorbent.
- Mercury will need to be cleaned by using an aspirator bulb or suction device to collect mercury beads (Note: do NOT use a vacuum cleaner). Finally, the spill will need to be mopped up with mercury decontaminating powder.
In cases that a facility is handling these types of materials, training and safety is of the utmost importance. Refer to Safety Data Sheets and standards set by OSHA to ensure all safety bases are covered.