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Effects of Chemicals on Labware

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Chemicals may affect the weight, strength, color, dimensions, flexibility, and surface appearance of labware. The basic models of interaction that cause these changes are: (1) chemical attack on the polymer chain, with resultant reduction in physical properties, including oxidation; reaction of functional groups in or on the chain; and depolymerization; (2) physical change, including absorption of solvents, resulting in softening and swelling of the plastic; permeation of solvent through the plastic;

or dissolution in a solvent; and (3) stress-cracking from the interaction of a "stress-cracking agent" with molded-in or external stresses. The reactive combination of compounds of two or more classes may cause a synergistic or undesirable chemical effect. Other factors affecting chemical resistance include: temperature, pressure, internal or external stresses (such as centrifugation), and length of exposure to and concentration of the chemical. As temperature increases, resistance to attack decreases.