Before we get started, I’d like to put in a quick plug for Chemjobber‘s and Vinylogous‘s series this week on “Is graduate school in chemistry bad for your mental health?” Go read, especially if you’re a graduate student in the depths of year three.
Now on to the chemical health and safety news from the past week:
- The U.S. Chemical Safety & Hazard Investigation Board will hold a public meeting next week on its investigation into an explosion in Hawaii last year that killed five workers. “The explosion took place during the disposal of professional grade fireworks that had been illegally labeled for consumer use by a manufacturer in China and then seized by federal customs agents when they were brought into the U.S.” The meeting will be in Washington, D.C., and also will be webcast.
- In the Pipeline has a new entry for “Things I Won’t Work With”: Azidoazide azides. “The papers mention several detonations inside the Raman spectrometer as soon as the laser source was turned on, which must have helped the time pass more quickly. This shows a really commendable level of persistence, when you think about it – I don’t know about you, but one exploding spectrometer is generally enough to make recognize a motion to adjourn for the day.”
- This photo at ChemBark makes me think academic researchers are not working alone as often as feared. That said, let me reference again “Is graduate school in chemistry bad for your mental health?“
- Armed with Science gave us a window into hazmat handling aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu in Hazmat: Know the facts
- West Virginia’s Charleston Gazette covered new research about the health effects of perfluorooctanoic acid, which contaminates the site around a local DuPont fluoropolymer plant
- OSHA announced the winners of its Worker Safety & Health App Challenge. The one that particularly catches my eye was done by the United Steelworkers union, whose “USW Chemical Safety application that allows users to search a material safety data sheets database for information on workplace exposure limits, health hazards, workplace controls, personal protective equipment, handling and storage, and emergency procedures related to hazardous substances in the workplace.”
Fires and explosions:
- A chemical reactor exploded in India, killing two people and injuring four others
Leaks, spills, and other exposures:
- In India, a release of “poisonous gas” at a Hindustan Zinc lead plant killed two workers and led to the hospitalization of nine others
- In China, 9 metric tons of aniline leaked into the Zhuozhang River, a source of drinking water in Shanxi province
- An employee at Barrett Plating in Iowa nearly fell into “a tank of chemicals heated to more than 300 degrees,” when he and a colleague were trying to recover metal parts that had fallen into the tank. The colleague caught the worker “so only his lower extremities were exposed.” Supposedly the chemicals were similar to Drano. Sodium hydroxide, maybe?
- Roughly 40 30-gal drums of dimethoate, an organophosphate insecticide, spilled at Drexel Chemical in Georgia
- A Rain CII plant in Louisiana appeared to be the source of increased airborne hydrogen sulfide and sulfur dioxide
- Acetone mixed with something else led to the evacuation of the science center at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania
- Unverified, on Reddit: High school chemistry student drinks sodium hydroxide, damages esophagus.
- Students doing a skit in an English class dropped an antique fire extinguisher, spilling what was likely carbon tetrachloride in a Montana high school classroom
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.