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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