#Chemsafety programming at #ACSPhilly
Aug18

#Chemsafety programming at #ACSPhilly

The 252nd ACS National Meeting starts on Sunday in Philadelphia. Here’s what’s planned for chemical and laboratory safety; the Division of Chemical Health & Safety has its usual CHAS-At-A-Glance ready for printing. You can also find CHAS and the Committee on Chemical Safety in the Expo at booth 727. Note: I did not have time to proofread this after putting it together. If there’s something that you want to see, double-check the time and location with the actual program! SUNDAY Morning Division of Chemical Health & Safety Executive Committee open meeting, here’s the agenda book; 8:00 AM-noon; Philadelphia Marriott Downtown, Grand Ballroom Salon C Bringing Cheminformatics into the College Chemistry Classroom; 8:15 AM-12:05 PM; Pennsylvania Convention Center, Room 112B (CINF, CHED) Learning to find the right information: A survey of chemistry information literacy in the undergraduate classroom Co-developing chemical information management and laboratory safety skills Introducing SIVVU, a web-based program for modeling spectrophotometric titration data Integration of cheminformatics material into the STEMWiki hyperlibrary Holistic approach to cheminformatics in a liberal arts environment Cheminformatics education and research at home: The best way to teach graduate chemistry in the professional community Fall 2015 cheminformatics OLCC project based learning: Validation of Wikipedia Chembox hazard information Cheminformatics in the chemistry classroom Modern cheminformatics tools in the teaching laboratory: A practical exercise simulating a drug discovery project Afternoon Division of Chemical Health & Safety Awards; 1:30-4:10 PM; Philadelphia Marriott Downtown, Independence III (CHAS, CHED) Evolutions of the collaboration between the Safety Office and the Department of Chemistry at Duke University Establishing a safety culture in a new research lab: Communication, repetition, and accountability Safety in undergraduate chemistry: It takes the whole department Reflections of a career: Where you end up when you don’t know where you are going Past, present and yet to be achieved: A personal chemical safety journey by a synthetic chemist Division of Chemical Education Safety Committee open meeting; 4:00-5:30 PM; Pennsylvania Convention Center, Room 102B MONDAY Morning Committee on Chemical Safety open meeting; 7:00 AM-noon; Philadelphia Marriott Downtown, Franklin 1/2 Understanding Nanomaterial Behavior: Breakthroughs & Challenges; 9:00 AM-noon; Loews Philadelphia Hotel, Congress B (ENVR) Nanotechnology environmental, health, and safety challenges: A National Nanotechnology Coordination Office perspective Nanotechnology environmental, health, and safety challenges, research, and opportunities panel Nanotechnology health implications research consortium Nanotechnology environmental, health, and safety challenges, research, and opportunities federal panel: NIST perspective Afternoon Chemistry of the People, by the People, for the People; 1:30-3:50 PM; Pennsylvania Convention Center, Room 201A (CHED, ANYL, CEI, MPPG) Fuels chemistry for the people – Energy & Fuels Division (ENFL) Energy for the people Nuclear chemistry’s role in the 21st century Chemistry of the...

Read More
Peroxide formation in 2-propanol
Aug16

Peroxide formation in 2-propanol

C&EN ran a safety letter a couple of weeks ago regarding peroxide formation in 2-propanol: Two years ago we experienced an explosion in our lab at the end of 2-propanol distillation. Luckily, it was a small-scale distillation. To elucidate what happened, we prepared several samples of 2-propanol and kept them on a shelf away from direct sunlight at room temperature. … Prior to this incident, we were not aware that primary and secondary alcohols are peroxidizable. We hope this report is a reminder to the chemistry community that they are and that distillation procedures should take the hazard into account. For more information, see the 7th edition of “Bretherick’s Handbook of Reactive Chemical Hazards”; Chem. Health Saf. 2001, DOI: 10.1016/s1074-9098(01)00247-7; and J. Chem. Educ. 1988, DOI: 10.1021/ed065pa226. For more, go read the...

Read More
“They appear confident that what happened to other people won’t happen to them”
Jul21

“They appear confident that what happened to other people won’t happen to them”

Looking at this story about a particular bluff in Oregon’s Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area, is there an analogy to be made about research lab safety? The “Pedestal Rock” is on a notorious sandstone bluff at Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area, which is fenced off and bordered by signs warning people not to go there. Seven people have died in the area since 2009. Six fatal falls have taken place during the past two years. Rescue efforts by the local fire district and U.S. Coast Guard cost upward of $21,000 per hour, often topping out near $106,000. Yet people continue to flood past the fence and signs. Adults, teenagers, grandparents, photographers and even parents with small children disregard the warnings. “We’re not seeing much confusion about what the current signs and fence mean,” said Chris Havel, spokesman for the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. “Even people who are aware of the deaths walk right past the fence and signs into that area. They appear confident that what happened to other people won’t happen to them.” … Starting last month, [Park Ranger Lisa Stevenson] patrols the fence at Cape Kiwanda. Leading with friendliness and facts, she looks to start a dialogue rather than a confrontation, even when people don’t want to hear it. h/t...

Read More
NAS releases report on “Health Risks of Indoor Exposure to Particulate Matter”
Jul14

NAS releases report on “Health Risks of Indoor Exposure to Particulate Matter”

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine this week released a report from a workshop focusing on the “Health Risks of Indoor Exposure to Particulate Matter.” From the description: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines PM as a mixture of extremely small particles and liquid droplets comprising a number of components, including “acids (such as nitrates and sulfates), organic chemicals, metals, soil or dust particles, and allergens (such as fragments of pollen and mold spores)”. The health effects of outdoor exposure to particulate matter (PM) are the subject of both research attention and regulatory action. Although much less studied to date, indoor exposure to PM is gaining attention as a potential source of adverse health effects. Indoor PM can originate from outdoor particles and also from various indoor sources, including heating, cooking, and smoking. Levels of indoor PM have the potential to exceed outdoor PM levels. Understanding the major features and subtleties of indoor exposures to particles of outdoor origin can improve our understanding of the exposure–response relationship on which ambient air pollutant standards are based. The EPA’s Indoor Environments Division commissioned the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to hold a workshop examining the issue of indoor exposure to PM more comprehensively and considering both the health risks and possible intervention strategies. Participants discussed the ailments that are most affected by particulate matter and the attributes of the exposures that are of greatest concern, exposure modifiers, vulnerable populations, exposure assessment, risk management, and gaps in the science. This report summarizes the presentations and discussions from the workshop. I don’t see anything in it that specifically addresses articulate matter exposure in laboratories, but some of the ways to mitigate particulate exposure might work in lab...

Read More
Gas cylinder storage at the University of Hawaii
Jul13

Gas cylinder storage at the University of Hawaii

When C&EN published my story about the fire department investigation into the explosion at the University of Hawaii (UH) that cost postdoc Thea Ekins-Coward one of her arms, we got many comments about whether or how the gas cylinders were secured. The fire department report and photos had little information about that issue. The University of California Center for Laboratory Safety (UCCLS) report released on July 1, however, devotes a section of its recommendations to how gas cylinder safety could be improved at UH. Note that Honolulu is not at high risk for earthquakes–according to the U.S. Geological Survey, it’s roughly equivalent to Sacramento or Las Vegas. Consequently, things that Coastal California scientists might need to do, such as double-strapping cylinders, are not required. That said, there was still room to do better. This group of ten cylinders, for example, which included hydrogen, carbon dioxide, helium, and carbon monoxide: Was secured as: Comments UCCLS: The typical gas cylinder clamp with cloth strap is only designed to support a single cylinder. Thus, a cluster of ten cylinders should be in a dedicated gas rack. Second, only cylinders of similar size should be secured together. Securing large and small cylinders together results in one cylinder size being secured at the wrong height. (Technical report, page 9) As for the two oxygen cylinders: UCCLS says: ● Both oxygen cylinders were strapped to the biosafety cabinet with a safety strap as required by OSHA and CGA P-1. However, the safety straps of both cylinders loosened as a result of the force of the explosion. Although not required by HIOSH, chaining gas cylinders presents a safer option. ● One of the oxygen cylinders was open when the explosion occurred and vented its gas content into the laboratory. However, it did not cause an oxygen enriched fire which would have led to more damage and possibly cause the adjacent oxygen cylinder that was closed to vent through the CG-1 (Rupture disk) pressure relief device. (Technical report, page 30) In another lab, UCCLS found this one, captioned “Gas cylinder attached to an adjustable shelf in a bookcase.” I don’t know which lab this was in, but judging from the mess on the floor and exposed insulation at the back, I’m guessing it was one of the labs adjacent to the one in which the explosion happened. The report notes that for two adjacent labs, cabinets were blown off the walls. UCCLS’s overall guidance on gas cylinder storage and use (Recommendations report, pages 7 to 10): Gas cylinders should be restrained by chains secured to a wall with Unistrut steel bars. In earthquake areas there should be...

Read More
Second investigation report released regarding U Hawaii explosion
Jul01

Second investigation report released regarding U Hawaii explosion

Earlier today, the University of Hawaii released a second investigation report into the lab explosion that caused a postdoctoral researcher to lose one of her arms. This report was by the University of California Center for Laboratory Safety; the first was by the Honolulu Fire Department. Still to come is the one by the Hawaii Occupational Safety & Health Division. At the time of the explosion, postdoctoral researcher Thea Ekins-Coward had just finished combining hydrogen, carbon dioxide, and oxygen gases from high-pressure cylinders into a lower pressure container. The mixture was to be used as a feedstock to grow bacteria to produce bioplastics and biofuels. I’ve only made it through a quick read of the technical part of the report so far, but here are some quotes: This report was written to serve as a direct call to action for researchers, administrators and EHSO staff not only at the UH, but at all institutions of higher education that conduct research. The recommendations and lessons learned contained herein should be understood and addressed at all universities in order to help prevent laboratory accidents. (page 5) From the beginning of February until March 16, 2016 the gas storage tank was filled eleven times with varying H2:O2:CO2 mixtures, all in the explosive range, with pressures between 37 and 117 psig (1 atm = 14.7 psig). The experiments were reviewed by the PI and the postdoctoral researcher weekly to discuss improvements of the bacterial culture conditions. They assumed the process to be safe since they stayed well below the maximum pressure for which the gas storage tank was rated (140 psig). The lab received a laboratory safety inspection in January 2016, however, the use of the gas storage tank was not questioned because the inspection used a typical checklist focusing on storage of chemicals and chemical waste, gas cylinder storage, laboratory fume hood certification, and documentation of training. (page 6) In fact, before accepting the postdoctoral researcher into his lab the PI sent out a written interview that contained the following question: “What was your duty and responsibility for the Environmental Health and Safety in the laboratories?” … Including safety questions in an interview enables a PI to examine general safety perceptions and attitude of a candidate, which is not commonly done. The Investigative Team is not aware of guidelines for incorporating safety questions into such an interview process, hence the safety concern reflects the PI’s genuine interest in laboratory safety. (page 9) [The postdoc’s] interest in safety as it directly related to the experiments she conducted were expressed in meeting notes from 10/21/2015. These also reflect her safety training in the United...

Read More
Tips for a safe Fourth of July
Jul01

Tips for a safe Fourth of July

If you plan to use fireworks this weekend, a few notes from the Consumer Product Safety Commission: CPSC has new data indicating that there were 11 deaths and nearly 12,000 ER-treated injuries from fireworks in 2015–the highest number in 15 years. … In CPSC’s new fireworks report, 9 of the 11 deaths involved reloadable aerial devices, a professional grade fireworks device that can quickly result in tragedy, when used incorrectly. In 2015, the deadliest fireworks incidents most often involved males older than 20. Young adults between the ages of 15 and 19 accounted for the highest rate of injuries, followed by children 5 to 9 years of age. About 65 percent of all injuries involved burns from devices such as sparklers, bottle rockets and firecrackers. Consumers who decide to purchase consumer fireworks are urged to follow these safety steps: Make sure consumer fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them. (View Fact Sheet) Never use or make professional grade fireworks. Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks, including sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees°F─hot enough to melt some metals. Do not buy fireworks that are packaged in brown paper, which is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays. Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Move to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks. Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy, in case of fire or other mishap. Never try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks. Soak them with water and throw them away. Never point or throw fireworks at another person. Light fireworks one at a time, then move away from them quickly. After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding the device to prevent a trash fire. Here’s CPSC’s video for this year. It features football player Jason Pierre-Paul, who lost part of his right hand in a fireworks incident last year. Though my favorite video is still the one from...

Read More
When is something an accident?
Jun15

When is something an accident?

This New York Times story from May reminded me of some people’s distaste for calling laboratory incidents “accidents”: It’s No Accident: Advocates Want to Speak of Car ‘Crashes’ Instead Roadway fatalities are soaring at a rate not seen in 50 years, resulting from crashes, collisions and other incidents caused by drivers. Just don’t call them accidents anymore. That is the position of a growing number of safety advocates, including grass-roots groups, federal officials and state and local leaders across the country. They are campaigning to change a 100-year-old mentality that they say trivializes the single most common cause of traffic incidents: human error. “When you use the word ‘accident,’ it’s like, ‘God made it happen,’ ” Mark Rosekind, the head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said at a driver safety conference this month at the Harvard School of Public Health. … Changing semantics is meant to shake people, particularly policy makers, out of the implicit nobody’s-fault attitude that the word “accident” conveys, they said. The semantics of accident came up around the Honolulu Fire Department investigation report about the University of Hawaii explosion. The fire department called the event an “accident” because the explosion wasn’t set off intentionally. But the University of Hawaii lab was working with a hazardous mixture of gases using inappropriate equipment. The information in the fire department report indicates that the explosion was foreseeable and preventable. Is it therefore appropriate to call the explosion an accident? Does anyone know of a lab incident that could truly be called accidental in that that chemicals involved behaved contrary to their known...

Read More