Chemicals in schools (formaldehyde, melamine and cyanuric acid)

Chemicals in schools (formaldehyde, melamine and cyanuric acid): Can someone please tell me if we can use formaldehyde (37%), melamine or cyanuric acid for IB individual design experiments in schools in Victoria? Thanks.

Voting: 
0
No votes yet
Publication Date: 15 February 2016
Asked By: Anonymous
Showing 1-1 of 1 Responses

Chemicals in schools

Thank you for your question.  In assessing chemicals for use in schools, we are guided in the first instance by the Science ASSIST resource List of recommended chemicals for science in Australian schools.

Summary Response

All three of your chemicals do not appear on the current Science ASSIST List of recommended chemicals for science in Australian schools, which may be the reason why you have raised the question.  Taking the three chemicals in order:

  • Formaldehyde (methanal).  Science ASSIST strongly advises against this being used in a school science setting.  It is a Category 1 (known) human carcinogen, has acute toxicity, and is a Category 2 drug precursor.
  • Melamine (2,4,6-triamino-1,3,5-triazine).  Science ASSIST considers that this chemical can be safely managed within a school setting, and will consider adding it to the recommended list.
  • Cyanuric acid (iso-cyanuric acid).  Science ASSIST considers that this chemical can be safely managed within a school setting, and will consider adding it to the recommended list.

In addition to looking at the individual chemicals, it is important to consider how they will be used and the products of any chemical reactions.

Always check the relevant Safety Data Sheet and conduct a risk assessment prior to purchasing any new chemical. In particular, the ‘handling and storage’ and the ‘stability and reactivity’ sections of the SDS should be consulted to help guide storage and handling, as well as to identify any incompatible materials and storage conditions to avoid.

It is also advisable to seek the SDSs for any chemicals produced to help inform decisions for proceeding with proposed activities. For example, the product of melamine and cyanuric acid is melamine cyanurate.  Some sources of information on this compound are:

Additional Information

  • Formaldehyde (methanal, CH2O) 37%.

Formaldehyde was considered in the development of the Science ASSIST List of recommended chemicals and was deliberately not included because of its acute health hazards, and because it is not regarded as essential or important to the science curriculum.  For further information regarding its classification as a carcinogen to humans, see http://www.iarc.fr/en/media-centre/pr/2004/pr153.html and https://monographs.iarc.fr/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/mono100F-29.pdf (Updated July 2018).

elamine (1,3,5-triazine-2,4,6-triamine, C3H6N6)

This is currently not listed in the Science ASSIST List of recommended chemicals because at the time that the list was developed, there was no identified science curriculum use for it.  Melamine is classified as harmful, carries the Signal Word “Warning”, and phrase H303 “may be harmful if swallowed”.  Research suggests that prolonged ingestion can lead to renal failure.  A white crystalline solid, melamine is combined with formaldehyde to produce a commonly used thermosetting plastic.

Science ASSIST will further assess this chemical for appropriate inclusion in the recommended list.

  • Cyanuric acid (iso-cyanuric acid, 1,3,5-triazine-2,4,6-triol, C3H3N3O3)

This is currently not listed in the Science ASSIST List of recommended chemicals because at the time that the list was developed, there was no identified science curriculum use for it.  It is classified as non hazardous under GHS criteria.  A crystalline solid, it is commonly sold as a swimming pool chemical, where it acts as a chlorine stabiliser slowing the loss of chlorine through the effects of ultraviolet radiation.

Science ASSIST will further assess this chemical for appropriate inclusion in the recommended list.

References

‘Cyanuric acid’, Safety Data Sheet, Sigma Chemicals website, http://www.sigma-chem.com.au/download/aus-cyanuric-acid-tablets-sds10015... (December, 2016)

‘Formaldehyde solution’, Safety Data Sheet, Chem-Supply website, https://www.chemsupply.com.au/documents/FA0101CH2T.pdf (January 2016)

‘IARC classifies formaldehyde as carcinogenic to humans’. Press release 153, IARC website. https://web.archive.org/web/20180910164112/http://www.iarc.fr/en/media-c... (December 2018. Original web page no longer exists, this copy is maintained by the Internet Archive).

Formaldehyde. 2012. IARC Monographs. https://monographs.iarc.fr/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/mono100F-29.pdf (Updated July 2018)

‘List of recommended chemicals for science in Australian schools, Science ASSIST website http://assist.asta.edu.au/resource/3052/list-recommended-chemicals-science-australian-schools?search-id=1ebf159 (July 2015)

‘Melamine’, Safety Data Sheet, Chem-Supply website, https://www.chemsupply.com.au/documents/ME0025_AU.pdf (July 2013)

‘Pharmacokinetics of melamine and cyanuric acid and their combinations in F344 rats’, Sigma-Aldrich website, https://www.sigmaaldrich.com/catalog/papers/22228804 (Accessed February 2016)

‘Stabiliser (Cyanurate) Use in Outdoor Swimming Pools’, NSW Health website, http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/environment/factsheets/Pages/stabiliser-cyanurate.aspx (December 2012)

‘Stablizer’’ Safety Data Sheet, Price Chemicals website, http://www.pricechemicals.com.au/documents/STABILIZER%202011.pdf (July 2011)

Suchy, P; Strakova, E; Herzig, I; Stana, J; Kalusova, R; Pospichalova, M. 2009. Toxicological risk of melamine and cyanuric acid in food and feed, Interdiscip Toxicol. June 2.2: 55–59, US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health website. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2984098/

World Health Organisation. 2008 Melamine and Cyanuric acid: Toxicity, Preliminary Risk Assessment and Guidance on Levels in Food, World Health Organization website http://www.who.int/foodsafety/fs_management/Melamine.pdf   (October 2008)

Thank you for submitting an answer to this question. Your response has been sent to our administration team for moderation.