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Category → Laboratory Safety

Making People Hate Chemistry on Halloween

Actual Twitter profile picture of the contributing editor at Gizmodo.

Thanks to a tip from ChemBark et al., here is the most “insanely irresponsible” promotion of hazardous chemistry demos that I’ve seen. Written by Gizmodo Contributing Editor Eric Limer, the post draws from books by author William Gurstelle (Backyard Ballistics, Absinthe & Flamethrowers).

On one hand, Gurstelle has done much to promote scientific curiosity among the public. That’s a good thing. Plus, Gurstelle has safety glasses in his promo picture. But Limer takes some of Gurstelle’s ideas out of context and suggests that they be used to scare or harm others.

Thankfully, many commenters have gone over to Gizmodo to register their disapproval but the post remains up. I understand from his profile and website that Limer lives in an area hit by Hurricane Sandy but I encourage him to take down his hurtful post as soon as is feasible.

Quirky is fun and interesting and people can find this information elsewhere with a little work. But promoting it at a major geek site is a Bad Idea.

Good news in University of Colorado chemical accident

Firefighters and students gather outside the CU Engineering Center, site of a reported chemical explosion Tuesday afternoon. (Marty Caivano)

The Colorado Daily reported this evening on a chemical explosion that injured an unidentified PhD student at the University of Colorado Engineering Center in Boulder. Few details are available now but don’t let the photos of the firefighters put you off – the accident could have been far worse.

Emergency crews evacuated the University of Colorado Engineering Center this afternoon after chemicals exploded in a beaker and the exploding glass shards cut a 28-year-old doctoral student’s forehead.

The student was mixing chemicals in a room in the Engineering Center’s “chemical engineering” wing. No one else was injured, according to Bronson Hilliard, spokesman for CU-Boulder.

The student — whose name is not being released — walked himself to Wardenburg Health Center on campus.

Glass shards in the forehead tell me that the student was likely wearing appropriate eye protection. My guess is that we could have been reading about a student who was tragically blinded.

We send our best wishes to the student and to our colleagues at the CU Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering.