Leadership

Tetrahydrofuran

Issue 3 and Volume 141.

Tetrahydrofuran HAZARDOUS MATERIALS Chemical Data Notebook Series #22: Tetrahydrofuran, a solvent for plastics, resins, inks, and pharmaceuticals, is bad enough for responders in its liquid state. It’s narcotic, irritating, volatile, and flammable, and it offers the potential for a violent BLEVE (boiling-liquid, expanding-vapor explosion). But should THF spill, it becomes even more dangerous, because then it’s subject to slow oxidation upon exposure to air. That could lead to the formation of an unstable, explosive organic peroxide, or result in an explosion caused by runaway polymerization. Tetrahydrofuran will often be found in industrial operations where polyvinyl chloride or other vinyl resins are converted into film and other shapes that are “cast” rather than extruded. To be cast, the materials need to first be dissolved, and THF is the solvent that does it. Tetrahydrofuran is colorless, with a faint, etheror acetone-like odor. It has a flash point of – 4° F, a…

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