[meteorite-list] Acetone: be carefull (re: Alcohol denaturing agents)

From: Marco Langbroek <marco.langbroek_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Thu Apr 22 10:32:49 2004
Message-ID: <002201c408ea$351dc750$9600000a_at_HAL>

> Having done museum conservation, I would say acetone would be safe to
> meteorites.
> -- no smoking please --
> Nick

Apart from no smoking, be well aware that you should use a good air
ventilation system when using acetone. Most people don't realise, but
acetone (its fumes most notably) is very nasty stuff. While safe to
meteorites, it's definitely not safe to people.

I discovered this the hard way several years ago, when I was trying to
dissolve the glue between conjoined flint artifacts. They wouldn't come off
easily that day, so I started to soak the whole nodule in undiluted acetone
for a while. This was in an ordinary classroom stile of room, with a window
open but no ventilation system. I had a distinct headache when I stopped,
but was not prepared for the rest to come. I went to some friends directly
after work, and did not feel well. While with them, my headache reached
head-splitting dimensions, and then I started to show uncontroled muscle
convulsions, and stammering speech. I was transported to a doctor right
away, and while he examined me, I had distinct memory problems: I had to
think it over for almost half a minute before I was able to tell him my
birthdate for example. The doc's verdict, after consulting the poisening
data center in Utrecht was: acetone poisoning, a known effect of this stuff.
Although the worst effects died down later that evening, I actually
maintained slight oncontroled musscle convulsions and tremble for almost two
days afterward. A doctor later explained to me why, and what the stuff does.
When you inhale the fumes, the stuff heaps up in either your muscle tissue
or fat tissue (I have forgotten which one it was), and is only very slowly
released from it (that's why some effects lingered on for almost two days).
And it is poisenous, in that it works on your central nerve system (hence
the uncontrolled musscle convulsions etc.). I was told that drinking a lot
of milk helps preventing the worst problems, as this seems to bind the stuff
for more easy removal from your body.

Anyway: after this experience, I have never worked with acetone again
without a professional air ventilation system. And I strongly recommend
everybody to follow that same rule. I probably had bad luck in that I might
be somewhat oversensitive to the stuff, but still, it makes clear acetone
has more dangers apart from its highly inflammable character.

- Marco

Dr Marco Langbroek
Leiden, the Netherlands
52.15896 N, 4.48884 E (WGS 84)

e-mail: meteorites_at_dmsweb.org
website: http://home.wanadoo.nl/marco.langbroek
weblog: http://home.wanadoo.nl/marco.langbroek/iss_log.html
Received on Sat 13 Mar 2004 05:59:03 AM PST

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