aerosol storage

Aerosol storage: Where can I find the standards and requirements for safe aerosol storage in the lab prep area?

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Publication Date: 18 June 2014
Asked By: Kathleen Lacey
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aerosol storage

In response to this subsequent question:

I have joined my schools OSH team and we have aerosols all over the school. What Australian Standards cover the storage of aerosols in a school or on a commercial building? Some of the answers below cover it but is there anything else I need to be aware of? We have no outside storage as we are an inner city school in a multistorey building.

The Pratt document and the information from the aerosol association of Australia are still current and very good sources of information for general storage of aerosols.

Small amounts of general-use aerosol cans throughout a building should not be a cause of concern. However, in the event of a fire, there may be a risk of aerosol cans becoming projectiles. Therefore, we reaffirm the previous advice (below) to keep quantities to a minimum and, if there are large quantities, to consider storage in a suitable metal cabinet/cage, which will aid in the prevention of aerosol cans becoming projectiles in the event of a fire.

In addition, consider the people who may have access to places where aerosols are held and determine if the aerosols need to be kept secure. For example, aerosol cans that contain paint should be kept secure so that they are not taken by unauthorised persons and used for inappropriate activities like graffiti.

The Australian Standards referred to in our previous answer generally refer to storage of large quantities of aerosols. There is no specific Australian Standard that covers the storage of aerosols in a school or public building. Two other related Standards are also not relevant to storage of aerosol cans ≤ 1L:

  • AS 2278.1—2008 Aerosol containers Part 1: Metal aerosol dispensers of capacity 50 mL to 1000 mL inclusive

Note: this deals with the requirements for the construction and testing of, rather than the storage of aerosols.

  • AS 4332—2004 The storage and handling of gases in cylinders

Note: This applies to storage of Class 2 substances in the ADG Code in relation to aerosols having a capacity of greater than 1 L (i.e., this does not apply to aerosols of capacity ≤ 1L).

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Expert Answer

The following Australian Standards make reference to aerosol storage:


  • AS 1940:2004 The storage and handling of flammable and combustible liquids.
  • AS/NZS 2243.10:2004 Safety in laboratories – Part 10: Storage of chemicals.
  • AS/NZS 3833:2007 The storage and handling of mixed classes of dangerous goods, in packages and intermediate bulk containers.

Aerosols are often metal aerosol dispensers from 50 mL to 1000 mL maximum net capacity. They are pressurised by liquefied, dissolved or compressed propellant gases. The pressure within the can increases with temperature and so storage in hot areas can potentially cause the can to burst or rupture explosively. The contents of aerosols may be flammable, toxic, corrosive, or a combination of these. They may also present other physical or health hazards.


The Australian Standards generally refer to storage of large quantities of aerosols. The main intent of the legislation is to prevent aerosols from becoming missiles or projectiles in the event of a fire. In a laboratory setting, if there are only one or two aerosol containers, they could be stored throughout the laboratory.


AS/NZS 2243.10:2004: Safety in Laboratories – Part 10: Storage of Chemicals[i] states:


4.4 QUANTITIES OF CHEMICALS IN STORAGE WITHIN A LABORATORY


4.4.1 General


The quantities of chemicals should be restricted to the minimum levels consistent with the operations of the laboratory. Following use, chemicals should be returned to storage.


4.4.2 Maximum quantities of hazardous chemicals in storage within a laboratory other than in chemical storage cabinets


The quantities of hazardous chemicals stored in a laboratory other than in chemical storage cabinets shall not exceed those specified (below). For particular groups of chemicals or items, due to their hazardous nature or regulatory requirements, additional storage requirements may be necessary.’(p18)


‘Quantities of hazardous chemicals permitted to be stored in a laboratory other than in a chemical storage cabinet


Type of substance or class of dangerous goods – Class 9 and aerosols.


Maximum per 50m2 kg or L – 50 for liquids, 100 for solids.


Maximum pack size kg or L – 5 for liquids, 20 for solids.


Conditions for storage – labelled standard laboratory cupboard or in small amounts throughout the laboratory.


Alternative storage options – AS/NZS 4681 or AS/NZS 3833.’ (converted to text from Table 1, p19)


You can see that the requirement for a dedicated storage cabinet depends upon the quantity of aerosol containers, as well as the floor area of a laboratory. Therefore, it is necessary to conduct a site-specific risk assessment to determine if a dedicated storage cabinet is required.


Where an aerosol is classified as Dangerous Goods Class 3 Flammable Liquid, it is appropriate to store it in the flammable liquids cabinet. When it is classified as Dangerous Goods Class 2.1 Flammable Gas, then storage recommendations are not so clear. With the increasing number of aerosols complying with the GHS labelling system, it will be necessary to consult Section 14 Transport Information of a Safety Data Sheet in GHS format to determine the Dangerous Goods Class.


If there are several aerosol containers, projectile protection could be in the form of a metal cage, similar to the storage in large hardware stores where aerosols are protected in cages by small aperture weldmesh. Another alternative could be for a metal cabinet that will remain closed in the event of a fire, subject to it being of a robust construction with locks and hinges that would last longer in a fire than the aerosols. Another aspect to consider is that aerosols, as well as all chemicals at schools should be securely stored.


General principles for storage of aerosols:


General flammable gas storage requirements apply. These are:


  • Keep away from any sources of heat or ignition, such as heat, sparks, open flames and hot surfaces.
  • Provide adequate ventilation.
  • Store in a cool and dry area.
  • Keep away from combustible and incompatible goods.
  • Do not expose to temperatures exceeding 50 °C. Protect from sunlight. 
  • Do not keep in cars.
  • Do not allow to freeze.
  • Do not store near acids where the cans could corrode.
  • Do not store where they are likely to suffer mechanical damage.
  • Piercing a can even when empty may cause it to explode.

Pratt Safety systems has produced a document called ‘The Storage and Handling of Small Quantities of Aerosol Cans’ that is a good summary of information and guidance. See http://www.store-safe.com/docs/Aerosolfacts.pdf


The Australian Aerosol Association Inc. has some general advice concerning general safety with aerosols. See http://aerosol.com.au/about-aerosols/safety-at-home/ 


If you are considering the purchase of an aerosol cage, here are a couple of options to consider:


http://perthpetroleum.com.au/products/safety-cabinets-dg-stores/aerosol-...


http://www.laftech.com.au/products/chemical-powder-safe-handling/safety-...


Science ASSIST recommends that:


  • a review of the number and type of aerosols is conducted to ensure that minimum required quantities are stored;
  • a risk assessment be conducted to determine if a dedicated storage cabinet is required for your specific site according to Table 1 in AS/NZS 2243.10:2004;
  • a means of projectile containment is provided where several aerosols are kept, but quantities are less than that required for a dedicated cabinet;
  • aerosols are kept securely out of the reach/access of students except when required for use.

This advice is based upon general information currently available. Science ASSIST will be developing detailed guidelines for chemical storage for Australian schools over the next 12 months and will notify schools when this is completed.


(Update: The Science ASSIST Chemical Management Handbook is available through the following link: https://assist.asta.edu.au/resource/4193/chemical-management-handbook-au...)


[i] These extracts are from AS/NZS 2243.10:2004: Safety in Laboratories – Part 10: Storage of Chemicals is reproduced with permission from SAI Global Ltd under Licence 1407-c117.

aerosol storage

I have joined my schools OSH team and we have aerosols all over the school. What Australian Standards cover the storage of aerosols in a school or on a commercial building. Some of the answers below cover it but is there anything else I need to be aware of? We have no outside storage as we are an inner city school in a multistory building.

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