Friday chemical safety round up

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

First up, on the West Fertilizer explosion in Texas:


Fires and explosions:

  • Three workers were killed in an explosion in a fireworks factory in India
  • Also in India, and explosion and fire from some sort of chemical transfer at Ganesh Plasto injured one
  • A fire at a Formosa Plastics plant in Texas involved ethylene and injured at least nine people (another story says a dozen)

Leaks, spills, and other exposures:

  • One worker died and six others were treated for exposure after breathing hydrogen sulfide fumes while cleaning pipes at a wastewater treatment plant at the Port of Tampa, in Florida
  • Something “in the ‘cyanide’ family” spilled at metal finisher Kocour in Illinois, sending one person for medical treatment
  • Phenol spilled at a medical clinic in Iowa, sending 13 people to two local hospitals, and also at a U.K. high school
  • Hydrogen peroxide leaked from equipment at the College of Nanoscale Science & Engineering in New York
  • Chemicals stored by a deceased fireworks enthusiast in a residential shed led to the evacuation of 49 neighboring houses while the bomb squad investigated

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.

Author: Jyllian Kemsley

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  1. The Florida high school student showed poor judgement in having a bottle dispersing a solution of very low or high pH (depending on the cleaner used) after the explosion. Bystanders could have sufferd skin or eye injuries. If she had Googled “aluminum foil toilet bowl cleaner” she would have found a number of videos of similar experiments.

  2. Yes, the Florida high school student probably showed poor judgement. But poor enough to warrant expulsion from school and an arrest? I can’t disagree strongly enough. In fact, I personally would like to see the ACS send a letter to the school and law enforcement authorities to ask for leniency in this case (assuming here that it was simple curiosity and a foolish experiment gone bad).