Restricted Chemicals – Suggestions from the STAO Safety Committee


Restricted Chemicals

There has been a lot of confusion generated when a select group of chemicals were listed as restricted, and special ordering procedures were initiated by the Federal government.

What are restricted chemicals?

 

To prevent their criminal use, 10 chemicals have been identified by the Natural Resources branch responsible for compliance with the Explosives Act. They are:

Hydrogen peroxide, Nitric acid, Potassium chlorate, Sodium chlorate, Potassium nitrate, Sodium nitrate, Ammonium nitrate, Nitromethane, Potassium perchlorate, and a mixture of sodium nitrate and potassium nitrate.

Only 7 of these (in bold print) are commonly used in high school chemistry, and can be purchased from any major science supplier. Restricted chemicals are not inherently more dangerous than other chemicals used in teaching high school science, nor do they require special treatment as to storage conditions and security.

Ordering restricted chemicals:

As you might expect, the policies at each science supplier are different. What they all agree on is that a school account is required to purchase any chemical supplies, and that purchases can only be sent to a school address. The Explosives Act requires that the purchaser be identified and that their intended use be recorded. This does not necessarily mean that teachers must send their personal identification. In contacting several suppliers, we have learned the following:

  • Supplier A: Requires only the school name, school address and will record educational use in their records. No personal teacher identification is required. An intent of use form does not have to be completed.
  • Supplier B: Requires the school Tax ID number or business registration number or personal teacher photo identification. An Intent of Use form must be on file.
  • Supplier C: Requires a school board official complete a blanket form and then each school can place their order after they open a school account. If the school board does not do this, then each school must have a teacher provide Photo ID and complete an Intent of Use form.

Explosives Act

Within the Explosive’s Act, there is a small order exemption. The quantity limits set for the small order exemption are quite high (e.g., 1 kg), and school orders generally would fall into this exemption category. Seller’s then require far less information for school orders than for large industrial sized orders. This probably explains the range of policies from the various suppliers. Restricted chemicals do not have to be placed as a separate order, but can be included within your regular school order. In response to questions sent by the STAO Safety Committee, a Senior Inspector indicated that:

  • High school labs will not be subject to audits or inspection
  • By restricting access to our chemical storage area, and locking up at night, our security measures are more than sufficient to protect our chemical inventory.

Conclusions:

  1. Check with your science supplier as to their ordering policy.
  2. Ask for an alternative to supplying individual teacher identification.
  3. Place your order for both restricted and non-restricted chemicals.
  4. Restrict access to the chemical storage area to teachers only.
  5. Protect your inventory by locking up your storage area at night.

If you have any safety questions, please send them to info@stao.org and we will promptly respond.

Dave Gervais

Chair STAO Safety Committee

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