Chemical health and safety news from the past week. I’ll probably have fewer incidents than usual while the federal government is shut down and the Chemical Safety Board isn’t updating its accidents feed.
Tweet of the week:
X: "I wish these lab coats were sexier." Me: "It's 'Safety First', not 'Sexy First'."
— Radium Yttrium (@DrRubidium) October 10, 2013
- Chemjobber discussed backups on backups on backups on backups to handle concerns of a runaway reaction at industrial scale
- Miss the BioRAFT webinar on “Changes to UCLA’s Laboratory Safety Program: Are We Safer?” See the recording here.
- The National Academy of Sciences published a new report, Acute exposure guideline levels for selected airborne chemicals, volume 15
- 100 specialists to carry out tricky Syria disarmament. Godspeed, all.
- Federal shutdown effects on the Chemical Safety Board
- Austerity at OSHA, the effects of declining resources (separate from the shutdown)
- Titanium bullets, rocket sleds, and C-4: How the U.S. tested the safety of nuclear batteries
- A U.K. company, Personnel Hygiene Services, was fined $240,000 for an incident in which three employees were seriously burned when 150 aerosol cans were put in a shredder; “the employees were ‘caught in a fireball” and “PHS had no procedure for checking the contents of boxes of waste materials delivered to the site”
- In Connecticut, chemist, businessman, and pilot Joseph Callahan called the police about a possible break-in at his home. Investigators subsequently found “274 guns, more than 200 of them rifles — all legally owned, according to police — as well as a cache of ammunition, explosives and chemicals.” Callahan was subsequently charged with “11 counts of illegal possession of explosives, one count of manufacturing bombs and six counts of first-degree reckless endangerment.” Also, “Mr. Callahan has agreed to be responsible for the cost of removal and destruction of any items directed to be removed either by the fire department or [the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection,” his attorney said.
Fires and explosions:
- An employee working alone in a Rohm and Haas lab in Massachusetts received “serious burns covering half of his body including his face and arms” from some sort of lab explosion
- In Australia, a grass fire led to the destruction of Viscount plastics factories
- In India, a fire broke out at a Defense Research and Development Organization lab, the facilty “is the DRDO’s oldest weapons testing facility in the country” and was set up in 1894; “the explosion left all the explosives int he magazine completely gutted. However, the roof of the magazine was intact. Only the doors were ripped apart.”
- In Ireland, a bomb squad blew up a container of dinitrophenylhydrazine found in a school laboratory
Leaks, spills, and other exposures:
- 4,500 gal of hydrochloric acid spilled but was contained in a holding area at a Continental Teves plant in North Carolina
- Avago Technologies in Colorado had a “minor” spill of hydrochloric acid
- A student at the University of Edinburgh, in Scotland, was splashed in the face with “benzene bromide” (benzyl bromide?)
- A Massachusetts homeowner “dropped chemicals on Saturday while removing them for safe disposal,” a vapor cloud ensued and since one of the containers may have contained cyanide, five houses were evacuated
Not covered (usually): meth labs; 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