Proceedings Of The Marine

SUM 2014

Proceedings magazine is a communication tool for the Coast Guard's Marine Safety & Security Council. Each quarterly magazine focuses on a specific theme of interest to the marine industry.

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What is the Coast Guard doing about it? Nitromethane is considered a hazardous material and special requirements have been set for marking, labeling, and transporting this material. The legal airborne permis- sible exposure limit is 100 parts per million (ppm), aver- aged over an 8-hour workday. Clean Air Act performance standards subject nitromethane manufactures to certain provisions for the control of volatile organic compound emissions. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health notes that 750 ppm is immediately dangerous to life and health. The U.S. Coast Guard enforces these limits. In addition, the Coast Guard operates the National Response Center, which is the sole federal point of contact for reporting chemical spills. In the event of a spill or emergency with nitromethane, call (800) 424-8802. About the author: Ms. Stephanie Jocis is a cadet at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, studying marine and environmental science. She is interested in a career in sector response operations. Endnotes: 1. Occurring without gain or loss of heat. References: Acros Organics (July 2007). Material Safety Data Sheet. ANGUS Chemical Company Technical Data Sheet: The Nitroparaff ns (2000). ANGUS Technical Bulletin: Nitromethane. The Dow Chemical Company. LCDR G. Crettol (2013). Understanding Styrene. National Response Center (2013). New Jersey Department of Health (February 2008). Right-to-Know Hazardous Substance Fact Sheet: Nitromethane. NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards: Nitromethane. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Serrano, R.A. (May 4, 2005). Oklahoma City Bomber Nichols Says a 3rd Man Took Part in Plot. Los Angeles Times. Technology Planning and Management Corporation (March 25, 2002). Report on Carcinogens Background Document for Nitromethane. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2011). Report on Carcinogens. Twelfth Edition. Pp 299. What is it? Nitromethane (also known as nitrocarbol, NM, or NMT) is a colorless, oily liquid that is slightly soluble in water. It produces a fruity to disagreeable odor. Nitromethane is a commercially produced nitroalkane that is used as a fuel additive in racing cars, boats, and model engines. It is also used as a component in a binary explosive formulation with ammonium nitrate, as was the case in the tragic Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. Why Should I Care? Shipping Concerns: The U.S. Department of Transportation classif es nitro- methane as a hazard class 3 f ammable liquid. Nitrometh- ane is shock sensitive and thermally unstable. To reduce likelihood of detonation, avoid conditions such as: • very severe shock, • severe and rapid compression under adiabatic condi- tions, 1 • heating under conf nement. Health Concerns: Nitromethane is a f ammable liquid, and its vapors may cause central nervous system depression and liver dam- age. It can also cause eye, skin, and respiratory tract irrita- tion, and may be harmful if swallowed or inhaled. Fire or explosion concerns: Nitromethane is very explosive with a f ash point of 95°F. A single 5-gallon can has a fatality range of 42 feet and can cause signif cant injury or damage to a range of 316 feet, while a full 55-gallon drum of nitromethane has a blast radius of 92 feet and can cause signif cant injury or damage up to 700 feet. Nitromethane forms an explosive sodium salt that bursts into f ame on contact with water. Nitromethane is made more sensitive to detonation by contamination with other compounds such as reducing agents, strong bases, amines, or heavy metals. Understanding Nitromethane by Ms. stePhanie JoCis United States Coast Guard Academy Cadet 66 Proceedings Summer 2014 www.uscg.mil/proceedings Chemical of the Quarter Summer2014_22.indd 66 5/13/14 9:46 AM

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