Acetonitrile is a toxic, colorless liquid with an ether-like odor and a sweet, burnt taste. It is an extremely dangerous substance and must be handled with caution as it can cause severe health effects and/or death. It is also known as cyanomethane, ethyl nitrile, ethanenitrile, methanecarbonitrile, acetronitrile cluster and methyl cyanide.
Acetonitrile is easily ignited by heat, sparks or flames and gives off highly toxic hydrogen cyanide fumes when heated. It dissolves easily in water. It can react with water, steam or acids to produce flammable vapors that can form explosive mixtures when exposed to air. The vapors are heavier than air and can travel to low or confined areas. Containers of the liquid can explode when heated.
Acetonitrile is used to make pharmaceuticals, perfumes, rubber products, pesticides, acrylic nail removers and batteries. It is also used to extract fatty acids from animal and vegetable oils. Before working with acetonitrile, employee training should be provided on safe handling and storage procedures.
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