Solvent stills and fire repercussions
Dec16

Solvent stills and fire repercussions

I recently came across this 2002 letter regarding still safety and lab emergency preparation from William J. Evans of the University of California, Irvine. I thought it was worth sharing again for its lessons learned: As described in the article “Putting Safety First,” my laboratory suffered major losses on July 23, 2001, as a result of a fire originating with the malfunction of a solvent still (C&EN, May 20, page 43)....

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Gloves for handling pyrophoric reagents
Dec10

Gloves for handling pyrophoric reagents

For readers who handle pyrophoric reagents, how do you balance hand dexterity vs protection? I’ve heard either nitrile under Nomex (in the form of Blackhawk Aviator gloves) or Nomex under neoprene. Other suggestions?

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Typo may have led to radioactive material leak
Dec09

Typo may have led to radioactive material leak

On Feb. 14, radioactive material leaked from the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant nuclear waste repository in New Mexico. The leak was traced to a drum containing a reactive mixture of nitrate salts, an acid neutralizer, and an organic, cellulose-based cat litter used as a sorbent. From an investigation by the Santa Fe New Mexican: In a damning report issued in October, the Department of Energy’s Office of Inspector General chided [Los...

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The Curie laboratory and #chemsafety
Dec05

The Curie laboratory and #chemsafety

From the New York Times Magazine this week, a terrific piece about Curie lab technician Marguerite Perey and sacrifice in the name of science: My great-great-aunt discovered Francium. And It Killed Her. The more you read about how research progressed in the Radium Institute, the less romantic the story seems. Several potent accounts come from Elizabeth Rona, a chemist who worked in various European radioactivity labs. She wrote of a...

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Bhopal, 30 years later
Dec04

Bhopal, 30 years later

Thirty years ago yesterday, a runaway reaction in a 15,000-gal methyl isocyanide isocyanate storage tank at a Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal, India, resulted in a massive leak. The vapor, which is denser than air, blanketed an area of about 25 square miles. Hundreds of thousands of people were exposed to the gas and thousands of people died. The incident is widely considered to be the world’s worst industrial disaster....

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