I use RNase AWAY in the lab. I would like to know how dangerous this chemical is for health. For example, when I remove my gloves my hands smell because of the RNAse AWAY
RNase AWAY is marked for Category II skin corrosion/irritation and Category II eye irritation/serious eye damage. Recommendations by the MSDS followed by definitions as follows:
Skin contact Wash off immediately with plenty of water for at least 15 minutes. Remove and wash contaminated clothing before re-use. Immediate medical attention is required.
Eye contact Rinse immediately with plenty of water, also under the eyelids, for at least 15 minutes. Immediate medical attention is required.
More information is included in the MSDS provided.
As for any smell, RNase away is reported to be a proprietary alkali hydroxide solution, so without any additional information it's difficult to tell.
If you are doing RNA preps, there isn't much of a way around it. RNase are everywhere and the only way not the degrade your sample is to use proper technique, barrier protection such as nitrile gloves, certified RNase free containers (macrophage tubes, pipet tips, etc.), and saturate your work surface and instruments with RNAse away.
If you really have a concern and it is available to you, a BSL-2 tissue culture hood with laminar air flow, that you get permission to use for the purpose of an RNA prep, is an option for an added level of safety. You still have to prepare your work surface with it, but the laminar air flow will keep any fumes away from you. A regular fume hood would probably be enough of a precaution, again if you are concerned, and it is less likely that anyone would take issue to you working in it if the BSL-2 hood is set aside for the exclusive use of tissue culture work.
You should, in general read the Material Safety Data Sheet for whatever chemical you are using. This is always provided by the vendor.
For RNAse-AWAY (Sigma-Aldrich):
Gloves should be worn when handling this product. RNase Decontamination Reagent is alkaline in nature and will cause irritation if prolonged contact with the skin is allowed. In case of contact with eyes, immediately flush with water for fifteen minutes and contact a physician. If swallowed, do not induce vomiting. Give plenty of water and contact a physician immediately.
According to the MSDS:
Not a hazardous substance or mixture according to Regulation (EC) No. 1272/2008. This substance is not classified as dangerous according to Directive 67/548/EEC.
First Aid measures as per the MSDS.
If breathed in, move person into fresh air. If not breathing, give artificial respiration.
In case of skin contact
Wash off with soap and plenty of water.
In case of eye contact
Flush eyes with water as a precaution.
Never give anything by mouth to an unconscious person. Rinse mouth with water.