Friday round-up

Chemical health and safety news from the last two weeks:

Fires and explosions:

Leaks, spills, and other exposures:

Not covered: meth labs; ammonia leaks; incidents involving floor sealants, cleaning solutions, or pool chemicals; and fires from oil, natural gas, or other fuels

Author: Jyllian Kemsley

Share This Post On


  1. Why exactly does the infringement of private property rights belong on a chemical safety blog? Yes, some people store and use chemicals at home. Call the FBI, this justifies infringing the 4th amendment!

  2. 1950’s article reference is;

    “Chemical accidents involving minors”
    Craig Burns
    J. Chem. Educ., 1956, 33 (10), p 508
    Publication Date: October 1956 (Article)
    DOI: 10.1021/ed033p508

  3. @hslchem: Thanks for the reference! Here’s the link, if anyone wants it:

    The journal web page notes that it was cited by “Lecture demonstration accidents from which we can learn,” DOI: 10.1021/ed062p1105. Seems like it might also be interesting.

    @Thor: Which story, exactly, do you think represents a violation of the 4th amendment? In the Tucson case, emergency responders went to the home after the guy showed up in the ER with chemical burns and said there might still be a fire at the house. In Los Angeles, the garage caught fire and 12 other homes had to be evacuated. And in South Carolina, investigators were originally invited onto the property and it sounds like hazardous materials might be making their way into an adjacent lake.

  4. Tuscon:
    1) Chemical burns
    2) Potential fire remained, which was extinguished
    3) find chemicals
    Now the divergence occurs:
    a) what should have happened: nothing
    b)what did happen: some poor scientist gets hassled, and potentially eventually charged when they find the right chemicals to call them ‘precursors’ to some drug or explosive (nail polish remover and peroxide anyone?)

    The only potential law broken at this point is zoning laws or municipal ordinances, infringement of which is certainly not in the FBI’s jurisdiction. Drugs are easy to detect by any police force, so the mere presence of chemicals is not ‘reasonable and probable cause’ to allow further search or seizure of the chemicals. Will this guy get his chemicals back? I sure hope so! However I fear they will be confiscated out of some fabricated pretext of ‘public good’.

    It should be glaringly clear that there is no need for investigation by law enforcement based on the mere presence of chemicals.

  5. Also:
    Officer present lawfully due to the fire
    “For the plain view doctrine to apply for discoveries, the three-prong Horton test requires:
    1)the officer to be lawfully present at the place where the evidence can be plainly viewed,
    2) the officer to have a lawful right of access to the object, and
    3) the incriminating character of the object to be “immediately apparent.”

    So in order for the seizure to be lawful, the third point of the Horton test must be satisfied. Is the presence of a chemical “immediately apparent” incrimination? Obviously not, or the man would have been charged already and also as the FBI is coming in to test things and metaphorically “go fishing”.