Explosive Chemical

Last updated: August 2, 2018

What Does Explosive Chemical Mean?

An explosive chemical is a substance or mixture that experiences violent combustion as a reaction to an ignition source. This reaction is an exothermic process that involves the rapid release of large amounts of energy and is characterized by a rapid, violent release of pressure, gas, and heat. Ignition sources include heat, shock, and other substances that react with a chemical substance to cause it to explode.

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Safeopedia Explains Explosive Chemical

Some chemicals are used specifically for their explosive properties. For instance, TNT is used where blasting work is necessary. In other instances, the explosive properties of chemicals exist solely as an undesirable workplace hazard. Because of their potential to cause catastrophic workplace accidents, and to be misappropriated for criminal use, a variety of national and international regulations govern the proper handling and storage of explosive chemicals in the workplace.

Explosive chemicals belong to two categories: Substances that detonate and those that deflagrate. Detonating substances are referred to as "high explosives" and experience combustion reactions that occur at supersonic speeds. Substances which undergo deflagration are referred to as "low explosives" and experience combustion reactions that occur at subsonic speeds. Chemicals belonging to both categories are used for both deliberate work-related explosions and for non-explosive purposes.

The explosive risk posed by chemicals in transport is particularly high, as transportation often involves changes in environmental conditions, shocks, and large volumes of substance in an enclosed area. Most national transportation 9agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Transportation, regulate the movement of chemicals according to model regulations provided by the United Nations Dangerous Goods System. This system acts as a quasi-universal standard.

The UN’s model regulations for the transportation of dangerous goods classify explosive chemicals as a Class 1 dangerous good, and provides guidance regarding how chemicals may be transported together based on subclasses that describe their individual risk features. The identification of explosive chemicals is a key facet of the hazard communication standards required by occupational health and safety agencies around the world.

In most cases, including the United States, employers must communicate hazards according to the labeling requirements laid out in the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) for hazard communication. These requirements are built on the same UN Dangerous Goods System scheme used to aid in the transportation of hazardous goods, and include the mandatory use of pictograms as well as the use of other standardized identifiers to indicate that a substance is explosive .


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