Chemical reactivity in process hazard analysis

Chemical reactivity is the reaction between one chemical and other chemicals and/or materials.

Different to other hazards that can be caused by chemicals, chemical reactivity is not solely an intrinsic property of the chemicals that are involved – there is also the factor of the conditions where the chemicals are being used.

Hazards from chemical reactivity can be listed as below:

Self-reacting/unstable chemicals – It is possible for a single unstable compound to undergo something called uncontrolled decomposition, rearrangement, or polymerisation.
Organic peroxides are an example as they can actually pose fire and explosion hazards.

Runaway reactions – Intended reactions of chemicals to produce a desired product can become uncontrollable.
As an example, the chemical reaction of phenol with formaldehyde to produce phenolic resins is subject to run away.

Incompatibilities – It is possible for the mixture of two chemicals to make an unintended chemical reaction.
Process chemicals are more likely to react with materials present in the process such as water, air, materials of construction, utility fluids, lubricating oils etc.

Process hazard analysis

Process hazard analysis (PHAs) are usually conducted as a means of identifying potential hazard scenarios and identify any risks to determine whether any additional risk-reduction measure will need to be taken.

PHA should identify reactivity hazard scenarios for every process in a facility where process chemical reactivity hazards are most likely to happen.

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