Removing gloves and other protective equipment
Oct15

Removing gloves and other protective equipment

One of the things highlighted in the news this week is the risks of contamination from removing—”doffing”—personal protective equipment. “Meticulous removal, or doffing, of PPE is as important as its meticulous donning,” wrote infectious disease physician Amesh A. Adalja in “Ebola Lessons We Need To Learn From Dallas.” Most chemists don’t need to fear Ebola, but they do wear PPE to protect from chemical exposure. I asked...

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On individual versus institutional responsibility for workplace injuries
Oct13

On individual versus institutional responsibility for workplace injuries

A comment on personal versus institutional responsibility by Suzanne Donovan, an infectious disease specialist at Olive View-UCLA Medical Center, who spoke on NPR on Sunday about the Texas health care worker now infected with Ebola: And I think it’s really important that there is no finger-pointing at the healthcare worker so that the healthcare worker did something wrong because this is all about training and having the...

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Preparing piranha
Oct02

Preparing piranha

Piranha solutions are used to remove organic residues from substrates. Typically a 3:1 mixture of concentrated sulfuric acid to 30% hydrogen peroxide, it is highly corrosive and a powerful oxidizer. Simply mixing the solution is dangerous. And mixing piranha begs the question raises the question: Add the acid to the peroxide, or the other way around? Everyone hopefully learned in chemistry labs to “never cover an...

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Denver student hit in chest with jet of flaming methanol
Sep17

Denver student hit in chest with jet of flaming methanol

New incident, same message: Don’t pour alcohol anywhere near a possible flame. At a press briefing yesterday, Chemical Safety & Hazard Investigation Board investigators spoke about what they’ve learned so far regarding an incident at a Denver high school that sent four students to the hospital on Monday: The teacher lit a small pool of methanol to demonstrate its flame properties. When the flame didn’t rise as high as...

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Is combustible dust a concern for research labs?
Sep16

Is combustible dust a concern for research labs?

In last week’s exploding pianos post, the experiments focused on the addition of flour to a theatrical “flash pot.” How important the flour was to the ensuing explosion was never resolved. Flour is, in fact, a combustible material–along with sugar, grains, tobacco, plastics, wood, paper, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, dyes, coal, and metals. The U.S. Chemical Safety & Hazard Investigation Board has been...

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CSB warns against using methanol in classroom or lab demos
Sep15

CSB warns against using methanol in classroom or lab demos

Following up on the flash fire during a “tornado” demo in a Nevada museum, the U.S. Chemical Safety & Hazard Investigation Board released a statement today containing details of the incident and warning against using methanol in combustion demonstrations. CSB investigators responded to the museum fire, and their description of what happened confirms what the Associated Press reported: Our investigative team determined...

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David Snyder pled no contest to all charges in UC Davis explosives case
Sep12

David Snyder pled no contest to all charges in UC Davis explosives case

Former University of California, Davis postdoctoral chemist David Snyder was headed to trial next month on 17 explosives, hazardous waste, and firearms charges stemming from a 2013 explosion in his campus apartment. At a hearing today that was supposed to deal with legal motions prior to an Oct. 20 trial start, Snyder pled no contest to all of the charges, according to an update from the Yolo County District Attorney’s office:...

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Chemical safety for teachers webinar next week
Sep11

Chemical safety for teachers webinar next week

Just a quick post to spread the word that the American Association of Chemistry Teachers is holding a webinar on Tuesday, Sept. 16, from 7-8 pm Eastern on “Chemical Safety for Teachers”: Join professor and chemical safety expert Sammye Sigmann as she discusses laboratory standards, stockroom management, and answers your questions about safety in the chemistry classroom. Register...

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