Vous vous rendez dans un laboratoire de chimie par exemple et vous vous amusez à déterminer les odeurs des liquides qui y sont. Si vous sentez une odeur âcre et fortement vinaigrée qui se dégage d’un liquide incolore, sachez que vous êtes devant l’acide acétique. C’est un liquide dont l’utilisation se retrouve dans plusieurs secteurs. Cependant, il peut être dangereux pour l’environnement. Cet article vous en parle !

Description de l’acide acétique

L’acide acétique encore appelé acide éthanoïque, acide acétique glacial, acide éthylique ou acide méthane carboxylique est un composé chimique qui se mélange à l’eau, l’alcool, l’acétone, le benzène, le glycérol, l’éther et bien d’autres éléments. C’est un liquide incolore et inflammable. Il a une odeur piquante et pénétrante.

Les usages de l’acide acétique

L’acide acétique est un réactif très utilisé dans l’industrie et les laboratoires. Il est utilisé comme solvant : miscible à l’eau et à divers composants comme l’éthanol et le glycérol. C’est un bon solvant des gommes, des résines, du phosphore, du soufre… Il permet la fabrication de produits pharmaceutiques, de colorants, d’insecticides et de produits photographiques. Il est utilisé dans l’industrie alimentaire pour la production de vinaigre de fruits et d’additifs alimentaires.

Il intervient aussi dans l’industrie du textile. C’est un composant d’agent de nettoyage pour la fabrication des semi-conducteurs. Il s’agit également d’un coagulant du latex naturel mais aussi un élément bactériostatique dans le secteur médical et vétérinaire. L’acide éthanoïque est un composant des plastiques comme le polytéréphtalate d’éthylène (PET) ou de l’acétate de cellulose utile pour la production des peintures et adhésifs. Il est aussi utilisé comme fongicide et aussi dans la parfumerie…

Acide acétique : des risques pour la santé ou l’environnement ?

L’acide acétique est corrosif et ses vapeurs sont irritantes pour le nez et les yeux. Il est absorbé par les voies respiratoires et digestives. Il est presque complètement métabolisé au niveau cellulaire. Il est très corrosif vis-à-vis des tissus organiques et vivants. Il peut causer des brûlures ainsi que des dommages permanents à la bouche, au nez, à la gorge et aux poumons. Ils attaquent aussi la plupart des métaux usuels avec un dégagement d’hydrogène, ainsi que certains revêtements, le caoutchouc et les matières plastiques.

À certaines doses, son caractère irritant en fait un promoteur tumoral de tumeurs bénignes et malignes, surtout quand il est exposé sur une longue durée avec un agent cancérogène (gaz d’échappements des moteurs diesel, brouillards d’acides, gaz moutarde, huiles minérales non traitées, arsenic, poussière de cuir, amiante sous toutes ses formules). Son caractère inflammable pose aussi problème. Ces vapeurs peuvent former des mélanges explosifs avec l’air dans des concentrations données. Donc l’attention et le respect strict des normes sont exigés en cas de manipulation de ce composé.

Notons quand même que composé chimique n’a pas encore été jugé cancérogène ou dangereux pour l’environnement. Plusieurs études ont été menées dans ce sens sans pour autant établir de liens directs entre certains problèmes environnementaux et l’acide acétique. Toutefois, il est indispensable de prendre toutes les précautions pour éviter d’être exposé à cette substance.

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