Poor storage of 2,4-dinitrophenylhydrazine leads to controlled explosions in the U.K.
Nov09

Poor storage of 2,4-dinitrophenylhydrazine leads to controlled explosions in the U.K.

At least 40 U.K. schools have called in bomb disposal teams to dispose of improperly stored 2,4-dinitrophenylhydrazine (2,4-DNPH or 2,4-DNP), Chemistry World reports. 2,4-DNPH is used in a practical exam for U.K. students to complete their “A-level” to complete high school. Students would react an aldehyde or ketone with 2,4-DNPH to produce a colored 2,4-dinitrophenylhydrazone. The experiment had been discontinued but was recently reintroduced. Some schools “have retrieved questionable 2,4-DNPH ‘from the dusty back shelves of the chemical store,’ ” Chemistry World says. If the material dries out, it becomes sensitive to friction and shock. Simply removing the container lid could result in an explosion. That’s why the disposal method of choice is a controlled detonation, as also often happens with dried picric acid. A U.K. advisory service for school science and technology programs, CLEAPSS, recommends that: The solid is supplied damp or ‘wetted’ to minimise the risk of dust/air explosion. Keep solid damp at all times. Stand the bottle of damp solid inside a larger container that also contains a little tap water in the bottom (~ 1 cm depth). Label both the inner and outer containers. If solid may have become dry, do NOT attempt to open the bottle. Contact CLEAPSS. Or, if you’re not in the U.K., probably whoever handles your hazardous waste...

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Journal of Chemical Health & Safety, May-June issue
Oct18

Journal of Chemical Health & Safety, May-June issue

It’s catch-up time, so here’s what was in the May & June issue of the Journal of Chemical Health & Safety: Editorial: Blown opportunities, hope and challenge, regarding adding safety to the American Chemical Society’s core values, by Harry J. Elston Response to “A blown opportunity,” by Donna J. Nelson (ACS President and a chemistry professor at the University of Oklahoma) Investigation of injury data at a detonator facility, by Michael E. Cournoyer, Cindy M. Lawton, Marylou Apodaca, Robert A. Bustamante, and Mark A. Armijo (Los Alamos National Laboratory) A case history in glovebox glove selection, by L. Cadwallader, R. Pawelko, and P. Humrickhouse (Idaho National Laboratory) Enhancing the regulatory framework for upstream chemicals management in Malaysia: Some proposals from an academic perspective, by Goh Choo Ta, Chan Kok Meng, Mazlin Mokhtar, Lee Khai Ern, Lubna Alam, Mohamad Mahathir Amir Sultan, and Nur Liyana Ali (Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia) The efficacy of Safety Data Sheets in informing risk based decision making: A review of the aerospace sector, by G.A. Nayar, W. Wehrmeyer, and C. France (University of Surrey) and C.A. Phillips, N. Crankshaw, and N. Marsh (Rolls-Royce) Review and analysis of safety policies of chemical journals, by Lauren E. Grabowski and Scott R. Goode (University of South Carolina) A comparison of direct-reading instruments for the measurement of hexavalent chromium during stainless steel welding, by Darrah K. Sleeth, Leon F. Pahler, and Rodney R. Larson (University of Utah) Ethylene, by William E. Luttrell and Luke R. Fletcher (Oklahoma Christian University) Oh, when will we ever learn?, by Dennis C. Hendershot (AIChE’s Center for Chemical Process Safety) Safety as a core value, by Neal Langerman (Advanced Chemical...

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“Safety is always in season”
Oct13

“Safety is always in season”

When I reflect on my department’s safety training, I realize that too often we send a message to students that we need to behave safely to avoid getting into trouble. “Wear your goggles so you don’t get yelled at.” “Dispose of your waste properly so we don’t get fined.” “No food or drink in the lab so the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency doesn’t shut us down.” Those perspectives cater to the idea that chemists and chemistry make problems, and they instill a culture of compliance rather than a culture of safety. In reality, many of us went into chemistry to solve problems, and being safe is an important component of creating that problem-solution environment. Safety should be a positive identity issue. I am a chemist, so of course I strive to be as safe as I can be. Being safe chemists requires that every one of us own the responsibility for safety. Safety should not be delegated to a set of rules made by a designated safety officer; it should be the concern and responsibility of every person who works in a lab or is part of a process. For example, in the semester when my co-instructor for an advanced lab class was pregnant, I impressed on the students that it was everyone’s responsibility, not just hers, to make sure that she was not accidentally exposed to hazardous chemicals. We should not only be safe as individuals, but we should each contribute energetically and enthusiastically to the safety of the entire community. So writes Laura Pence, a chemistry professor at the University of Hartford and the director of the American Chemical Society’s District I, in a comment in C&EN this week. Read the full piece to see what else she has to say. It’s unfortunate that we didn’t link to the resources she mentions, but they’re all available on the Committee on Chemical Safety’s...

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Hazard assessment tool released
Sep01

Hazard assessment tool released

The ACS Committee on Chemical Safety has developed a website with a collection of methods and tools for assessing hazards in research laboratories. The tool is based on the committee’s publication “Identifying & Evaluating Hazards in Research Laboratories.” From the website: 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. THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION WILL: Familiarize you with the fundamentals of hazard assessment; Guide you through preparation practices such as scoping and assembling your team; Offer a number of ways to conduct hazard assessments; Provide tools (e.g., templates, examples, etc.) that can be shared with your team and used...

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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...

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“Improve lab safety culture” webinar
Jun14

“Improve lab safety culture” webinar

Coming up on June 30 is a webinar “to familiarize EH&S professionals and researchers” with the Association of Public & Land-Grant Universities (APLU) “Guide to implementing a Safety Culture in our Universities” that came out in April. From the webinar registration page: Learning Objectives: • What is the APLU/AAU Guide to Implementing a Safety Culture in Our Universities, and how is it different from other guidelines that came before (e.g., NAS and ACS guidelines)? • What is the role of the President or Chancellor, VPR, and EH&S leadership in implementing the recommendations? • How can EH&S best engage campus leadership and researchers in learning about and helping implement the guidelines and toolkit? • What are the recommendations and tools available to EH&S for developing or improving a culture of lab safety? • How can the research and health & safety communities get involved in updating the Guide by adding tools and resources? The moderator will be: Nancy Wayne, Associate Vice Chancellor for Research and Professor of Physiology, University of California, Los Angeles; APLU Lab Safety Task Force Member The panelists will be: Mark McClellan, Vice President for Research and Dean of the School of Graduate Studies, Utah State University; APLU Lab Safety Task Force Co-Chair Taylor Eighmy, Vice Chancellor for Research & Engagement, University of Tennessee, Knoxville; APLU Lab Safety Task Force Co-Chair Kacy Redd, Director, Science & Mathematics Education Policy, APLU; APLU Lab Safety Task Force...

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