Chemical health and safety news from the past few weeks:
- See Arr Oh commented on Rock Star PPE: “To risk sounding prudish, bare chests and chemicals don’t exactly mix.”
- The University of California, Berkely, chemistry department is giving out “Safety is part of science” t-shirts to people who complete safety training. Kudos to @piperjklemm for getting one! Meanwhile, UC San Diego has a “Got PPE?” shop at Cafe Press (h/t @ethylove).
- On Chemistry Reddit: Does anyone have the citation to that paper that recommends smoking a cigarette while running a reaction so that you detect the cyanide gas if it is produced?
- A rail safety PSA from England inspired Liberal Arts Chemist to craft a start to “Chem Ways to Die”: Light a candle in solvent stores…
- Chemistry in its Element on ricin
- OSHA cited Ohio’s Dover Chemical for 47 health and safety violations following a breach of the company’s polyvinyl chloride piping system in May and placed the company in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program. Proposed fines total $545,000.
- OSHA also cited MFG Chemical for 20 health and safety violations related to a plant explosion in Georgia. An overheated reactor caused a runaway reaction. Proposed fines total $77,000.
There was quite the spate of school incidents:
- A Pennsylvania middle school science teacher ignited rubbing alcohol as part of a demonstration that resulted in two students flown to the Johns Hopkins burn unit (both now released), three others treated locally for burns, and two more plus the teacher treated for smoke inhalation.
- An another six students and a teacher were taken to the hospital when a fire started during a classroom science experiment at a New Jersey high school
- At a Massachusetts high school, a fire broke out in a science lab trash can after a chemical in the can reacted with water
- “Potassium that had not been stored properly had come in contact with either air or water, causing an explosion in a chemical cupboard” at a high school in New Zealand
- In India, an incident at a science fair somehow led to a student dropping a test tube of carbon disulfide that caught fure
Other fires and explosions:
- The cause of an explosions and a fire that destroyed a Monolyte Labs facility in Louisiana is still undertermined. The company makes wastewater treatment polymers.
- A fire at a Nexeo plant in Texas started while methanol was being unloaded from a railcar
- “A spark from a shovel ignited a fierce firein a pit of flammable zirconium” in Oregon; the fire was put out by dumping cement on it
- Chemical mixing during transfer from tanks to drums may have caused a distillery fire in England
Leaks, spills, and other exposures:
- A worker sent to clean a methylene chloride tank “was found at the bottom of the tank unresponsive, face down in a chemical sludge,” at Sunnyside Products, in Illinois. The company makes wood care products and paint remover.
- A rail bridge collapsed over a creek in New Jersey; a tank car of vinyl chloride fell in and its contents leaked into the waterway
- A 55-gallon drum of urethane spilled when the drum was punctured by a forklift on a loading dock at a Case New Holland plant in Pennsylvania
Not covered (usually): meth labs; ammonia leaks; incidents involving floor sealants, cleaning solutions, or pool chemicals; transportation spills; things that happen at recycling centers (dispose of your waste properly, people!); and fires from oil, natural gas, or other fuels.