Urethane Standard Operating Procedure
Urethane is an anesthetic for non-survival surgical procedures on laboratory animals that is used alone or in combination with other drugs. One key advantage of urethane is that it produces 1) an extended period of anesthesia, and 2) minimal physiological changes. Urethane is not a good choice for survival procedures because it has post-operative health effects on animals and humans. It arrives as a solid and is mixed as a liquid to be injected into a research animal on an approved IACUC protocol.
A. Specific hazards:
Urethane has been shown to be a mutagen and a group 2B carcinogen. It is readily absorbed through the skin, targets multiple organs, suppresses bone marrow, readily crosses the placenta, induces fetal tumor formation (in utero), and initiates preneoplastic changes in the skin. Specific hazards are the following:
Skin/eye contact with powder or inhalation of dust of solid powder
Accidental injection of liquid urethane into humans
Handling by pregnant women; pregnant women should never work with urethane powder
B. Use in the lab:
Urethane should be stored at room temperature with other chemicals.
On a given day, staff will only prepare liquid urethane necessary for that day's experiments.
Gloves, eye protection, and a lab coat will be worn while mixing urethane powder with a solvent.
Immediately after measuring the powder necessary for mixing in a large weigh boat, the urethane powder will be mixed in the fume hood. The mixing will be done by transferring the solvent from a luer-lock syringe into the large weigh boat, and the liquid will be pulled into the syringe and transferred out multiple times until the solution is well mixed. The weigh boat will be disposed of as solid hazardous waste (urethane powder).
The luer-lock syringe will be fitted with a capped needle to prevent inadvertent loss of liquid and labeled as containing urethane.
The syringe can then be transferred to the experimental room, and used for injections. The syringe will be handled with gloves.
At the conclusion of the experiment, excess urethane should be injected into the carcass, and the syringe is disposed of as urethane solid waste.
C. In the event of a spill:
We only work with small volumes (less than 20ml) so only small spills should occur.
Wearing gloves and a lab coat, use paper towels to wipe up the urethane, and dispose of the paper towels as solid hazardous waste (urethane). Clean the area with plenty of water and dispose of the paper towels that are used to clean up the first round of water as solid hazardous waste (urethane).
A large spill should never occur because we never work with large volumes, but if it does call 781-736-3333 to alert appropriate emergency response personnel.
D. In the event of human contact:
In the event of a minor exposure, wash the area quickly, and report the accident to your supervisor.
In the event of a serious exposure, call 781-736-3333 to alert emergency response personnel.
Working with Urethane, Virginia Commonwealth University, 2006