Chemical health and safety news from the past week:
- In the wake of Michele Dufault’s death at Yale, many universities are taking a close look at machine shop policies: Yale, Dartmouth, Harvard, NYU and University of Chicago (Princeton mentioned also but story doesn’t say it’s reassessing), Stanford, Tufts, University of Pennsylvania, and Wesleyan. A memorial service for Dufault was held yesterday at Yale.
- Thursday, April 28, was Workers Memorial Day, to honor workers who are killed, injured, or diseased because of their jobs. Among those recognizing the day were the AFL-CIO, which released its annual ‘Dead On The Job’ Report, and a panel at UCLA.
Fires and explosions:
- Four people are missing and nine others were injured in a nitroglycerin explosion at a plant in the Czech Republic
- Fireworks unit blast kills two in India, four others were seriously injured–“The accident occurred when the factory foreman went into the storage room where the chemicals were stored and opened the sacks to distribute it to the workers to make the pieces of fireworks, police said.”
- An explosion in a pesticide plant in Guangxi, China, injured three (this from a somewhat morbid feature at shanghaiist titled “Today in Explosions”)
- Agilent worker burned severely in flash explosion at Santa Rosa facility in California:
[Patrick Colbus, 45,] was alone in the ground-floor lab in the two-story Building 1 at about 10:30 a.m. when the explosion rocked the structure. He had been cleaning a molecular beam epitaxy device, a large piece of equipment used for producing coatings on integrated circuits, officials said.
A combination of substancess, including red and white phosphorous, gallium, aluminum powder and arsenic were involved in the flash explosion that severely burned Colbus’ face, head and torso, said Mark Basque, a battalion chief for the Santa Rosa Fire Department. The chemicals are integral to the production of the advanced circuits.
“Something caused them to ignite and explode, but it’s unknown if it was a result of a chemical interaction or a mechanical failure,” Basque said.
The explosion blasted holes in at least one wall, cracked glass, overturned equipment and left a burn mark where the flash occurred, Basque said.
- A chemical fire at Aldrich Chemical in Wisconsin drew 80 firefighters from six departments, four of whom suffered minor chemical exposure; Aldrich provided “a dry chemical agent” to help fight the fire
- Rainwater leaking into a chemical storate room at Coats North America in North Carolina reacted with sodium hydrosulfite, leading to the evacuation of 150 workers
- Grape seed oil blamed for fire at Swindon College beauty training salons in the U.K.–the theory is that it absorbed into towels, heated in the dryer, oxidized and ignited the towels
Leaks, spills, and other exposures:
- 1,300 gal of sulfuric acid at a Virginia power plant
- Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid may be leaking from an Ontario, Canada, airport into a nearby water system
- Water-treatment chemicals at the University of California, Merced, science and engineering building
- A small amount of “mixed acids” at USC
- Swallowed rodent poison triggers hazmat situation in Michigan, when people feared the person would emit “harmful gases” (anyone know if this can actually happen?)
- Residents cough up to a chilli night: an Australian “cooking a box of chillis in an electric wok caused a chemical emergency when neighbours were overcome by fumes”
- 50-year-old acid in a New Jersey garage leaked but did not pose a danger to homeowners or the neighborhood–“Phil Kirsch, the owner of the home on Cedar Street, said the bottles have been in his garage for at least 50 years – ever since his father, a scientist who is now 93, worked in pharmaceuticals and brought them home.”
- On roads, railways, and shipyards: An insecticide, chlorobenzotrifluoride
Left out: meth labs, ammonia leaks, pool chemical incidents