Friday chemical safety round up

Chemical health and safety news from the past couple of weeks:

Fires and explosions:

Leaks, spills, and other exposures:

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.

UPDATE on the Texas Tech incident: Associate Vice President for Research Alice Young tells me that the explosion was from natural gas that apparently accumulated behind a wall from a break in a line outside the building. A wildlife research group prepares biological samples in the lab. According to the EH&S incident report, “With the laboratory in a good state of order and chemicals stored properly, there were no secondary incidents.”

Author: Jyllian Kemsley

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  1. The signs and labels item reminds me of an embarrassing incident. When I was a TA in a chemistry for non-chem majors course, TAs had to perform the lab experiments prior to the students. One experiment was the conversion of maleic to fumaric acid by heating the maleic acid in 12 M HCl. The fumaric acid is supposed to precipitate. It didn’t happen when I tried it. It turned out that several months before I had filled an empty HCl bottle with distilled water and wrote “distilled water” in small letters in pencil. I had forgotten that I did it and the writing was too small to be noticeable. I used that “HCl” in the trial experiment.

  2. @qvxb–Ha! At least in your case it was a relatively innocuous switch.