Help build the Chemical Safety Library!
Oct04

Help build the Chemical Safety Library!

Scour your memory, lab notebooks, or the literature to find reaction safety information to enter into the Chemical Safety Library, a database tool that chemists may use to share information and avoid repeating dangerous events. To expand the library, the nonprofit that developed it is holding a two-week datathon from Oct. 17 to 31. The Pistoia Alliance launched the library earlier this year, and it now has more than 100 entries. “We are collecting community-contributed insights regarding reactions that have gone awry in the lab, with the aim of making this information freely and widely available to improve safety for all,” says Carmen Nitsche, Pistoia’s executive director for business development in North America. If you don’t already have a Chemical Safety Library account, please register in advance–library administrators screen user applications and reaction submissions to ensure the database remains free of spam. You can also register for a kickoff webinar on Oct. 18 to provide training, tips, and tricks. And be sure to alert your colleagues–students, postdocs, faculty, staff, EH&S personnel, collaborators–about the effort. Pistoia will reward top contributors with gift cards. C&EN plans to participate in the datathon by contributing information from our safety letters. Our challenge to you: Don’t let us be the top contributor! I hear all the time that people would like to have a database such as this, so now’s your chance to help create it. What happens during the datathon and a subsequent hackathon will help determine future development of the...

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Hazards of high oxygen concentration, mixing incompatible materials, and more in process safety newsletters
Aug01

Hazards of high oxygen concentration, mixing incompatible materials, and more in process safety newsletters

From AIChE’s “Process Safety Beacon” newsletters: Hazards of high oxygen concentration – “Autoignition temperature (AIT) and minimum ignition energy (MIE) are lowered markedly by higher oxygen content. Substances ignite more readily, burn faster, generate higher temperatures, and are difficult to extinguish.” Mixing incompatible materials in storage tanks – “Understand potential hazardous interactions among different materials that you unload into your plant’s storage tanks. The July 2016 “Beacon” describes the “Chemical Reactivity Worksheet,” a tool which your engineers and chemists can use to help understand chemical interactions.” …but the temperature was below the flash point! – “Because the vessel was operating below the flash point of the contents, the concentration of fuel vapor in the vessel atmosphere was too low for ignition. There should not have been an explosion hazard. But the fuel may not only be present as a vapor (remember dust explosions). The investigation determined that the vessel agitator created a fine mist of liquid droplets (Fig. 2). The tiny droplets were estimated to have an average size of about 1 micron. … Flammability testing demonstrated that the mist could be ignited at room temperature in air – and the mist would be ignited even more easily in a pure oxygen atmosphere.” Are you sure that vessel is empty? – “When returning equipment to service following maintenance, make sure that it is completely clean and does not contain anything that could be incompatible with process materials or operating conditions.” Corroded tanks! – “Holes in tanks can allow toxic or flammable vapors to escape into the surrounding environment. Corrosion can weaken tanks, pipes, or other equipment so they can fail under normal operating conditions.” Incident investigation of a steam pipe failure – “There is a reason for including a team of people with different expertise in an incident investigation… In this incident, the engineers and other experts did not recognize the machine tool marks on the failed pipe, and yet it was immediately obvious to the expert, experienced machinist. His knowledge completely changed the conclusions of the investigation, and was essential for understanding the cause of the...

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Creating a 21st century chemical research laboratory: Hazard assessments and fundamentals webinar
May09

Creating a 21st century chemical research laboratory: Hazard assessments and fundamentals webinar

Coming up this Thursday, May 11, an ACS webinar on “Creating a 21st Century Chemical Research Laboratory: Hazard Assessments and Fundamentals.” The description: Safety in the laboratory requires a full team effort to be successful. When everyone in the laboratory understands how to identify hazards, assess risk, and select the appropriate control measures to eliminate a hazard or minimize risk, accidents, injuries and near misses can be reduced. Join Ralph Stuart, an Environmental Safety Manager at Keene State College, and Kendra Leahy Denlinger of the University of Cincinnati as they discuss the new ACS resources that can support a safer and greener chemistry, and thus better science for the 21st century chemical research laboratory. What You Will Learn What are the newly created ACS technical and cultural resources to support laboratory safety How to incorporate the information provided by ACS’s Hazard Assessment in Research Laboratories in your specific research laboratory What is mechanochemistry and how to carry out chemical reactions without the presence of a solvent Green chemistry case study: how to avoid solvent-intensive process of column chromatography by using functionalized polymer resins which isolate products using simple gravity filtration Register...

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Hazardous reactions database launched
Mar15

Hazardous reactions database launched

From my story at C&EN: A nonprofit group today released a database tool chemists can use to share information about hazardous chemical reactions. Called the Chemical Safety Library, the tool was developed by a group that included representatives from pharmaceutical companies and academic institutions. “We feel this will be a valuable and unique set of data that is currently not available and should advance safety for all researchers,” says Carmen Nitsche, executive director for business development in North America at the Pistoia Alliance, which brings together companies, vendors, publishers, and academic groups to address research and development challenges in the life sciences industry. Go read my story for more. This seems like it could be a very valuable resource for chemists to learn from others’ accidents and near-misses, but only if people put in the effort to share their own...

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Safety workshops before #ACSSanFran
Feb28

Safety workshops before #ACSSanFran

The American Chemical Society’s Division of Chemical Health & Safety is running workshops on the Friday and Saturday before the society’s National Meeting in San Francisco in April  Friday, March 31: Laboratory Waste Management Lab Safety – Beyond the Fundamentals Saturday, April 1: How to be a More Effective Chemical Hygiene Officer Reactive Chemical Management for Laboratories & Pilot Plants Using ACS Lab Safety Resources in the Classroom Cannabis Chemistry Extraction & Analysis Cost and registration information is here. The division plans to run the same workshops before the ACS national meeting in Washington, D.C., in...

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Lab safety at the Biennial Conference on Chemical Education
Dec20

Lab safety at the Biennial Conference on Chemical Education

Contributed by Samuella B. Sigman, lecturer and chemical hygiene officer at Appalachian State University, and Ralph Stuart, secretary of the ACS Division of Chemical Health & Safety and environmental safety manager at Keene College. At the Biennial Conference on Chemical Education (BCCE) earlier this year, we participated in a variety of workshops and symposia that addressed chemical safety in the higher education setting. A symposium on “New directions in academic lab safety” discussed several projects that support development of a lab safety culture in the academic setting. Presentations discussed ways to foster student involvement in safety outreach efforts, the cultural impact of developing an undergraduate lab safety course, and the opportunities and challenges presented by the globally harmonized system for hazard communication in the teaching lab setting. The full list of talks in this symposium included: Improving the culture of safety through student-led initiatives; Alice Paterno, Duquesne University Perceptions of student safety; David E. Gardner, Lander University Two credit laboratory safety course for undergraduate students; Michael Kahlow, University of Wisconsin, River Falls Improving safety training in teaching laboratories: New training modules for teaching assistants; Jay Wickenden, University of British Columbia From MSDS to SDS: Ideas to increase knowledge of chemical safety throughout the undergraduate curriculum; E. Kate Walker, University of Texas, Dallas Safety data sheets from suppliers: For lecturers, teachers, and technicians in education, just how useful is this document; Bob Worley, CLEAPSS (a U.K. science advisory service for educators) Plan to help chemical health and safety take its rightful place in the chemistry curriculum; David C. Finster, Wittenberg University In a second symposium, “How and why we do chemical demonstrations,” members of the ACS Division of Chemical Education’s Safety Committee discussed revisions to the division’s recently updated guidelines for chemical demonstrations. The guidance document gives special attention to scope, location, planning, and risk assessment and is targeted towards educational professionals with science training. It seeks to align best practices with recommendations from the National Fire Protection Association while informing users what they should do before, during, and after a demonstration in order to ensure the safety of demonstrators and audience members. As part of this symposium, one of us, Sammye, presented a paper on basic risk assessment development. This talk, “Hazard and risk assessment for chemical demonstrations,” focused on practical guidance for determining the hazards of a demonstration and how to collect and organize information into a basic risk assessment using five fundamental safety questions. The full list of talks in this symposium included: Why and how to use chemistry demonstrations; David C. Finster, Wittenberg University Revising CHEDs “Minimum Safety Guidelines for Chemical Demonstrations”; Monique Wilhelm, University of...

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