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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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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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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In memory of those who died, something to do in lab today
Dec01

In memory of those who died, something to do in lab today

From Derek Lowe, regarding the four DuPont workers who died from a methyl mercaptan leak two weeks ago (I would add, also, the many others who’ve died in laboratory accidents): So in memory of these four, here’s something that all of us who work in the lab can do today. Take a look around you. Remind yourself of where the fire extinguishers are (and there should be more than one kind). Think of how you’d get to the...

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Consequences of poor glove choice
Nov25

Consequences of poor glove choice

Via C&EN’s Chemistry in Pictures, shown here is what happened when “dichloromethane carried 3,4-ethylenedioxypyrrole through a researcher’s nitrile gloves. The compound polymerized onto the person’s fingers, forming poly-3,4-ethylenedioxypyrrole, a blue-black conductive polymer of unknown toxicity.” Check a glove compatibility chart before you experiment! The photo was taken by Kristof Hegedüs of...

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Judge says Harran complying with prosecution agreement in #SheriSangji case
Nov20

Judge says Harran complying with prosecution agreement in #SheriSangji case

Post written by Michael Torrice Attorneys for University of California, Los Angeles, chemistry professor Patrick Harran were in court today for a status check on the chemist’s compliance with an agreement with the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office. Harran made the deal in June so that the DA’s office would eventually drop charges of four felony violations of the state labor code stemming from a 2008 fire...

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