Via @adchempages, a personal story of the repercussions of being blinded by a school science experiment, by Meredith Plumb:
Throughout my childhood, I had 20:20 vision. But two weeks before my 12th birthday, in my first year of secondary school in Cheshire, my teacher asked me to conduct a science experiment, and gave me a pestle and mortar. I was told to measure three kinds of powder: black, orange and white. I did as I was told, but when I mixed them together, they exploded. I saw the flash, and then, what seemed like ages later, I heard the supersonic bang. Molten lava hit me in the face, but I felt no pain. …
I was taken to hospital, but the doctors didn’t know what to do with me. They hadn’t seen burns like that since the war, and never on a child. I was later flown to Barcelona and then Houston for surgery; between the ages of 13 and 16, I had 40 operations. As each operation came and went, my vision would come back, then fade again. Eventually, it faded completely and I had what was left of my eyes removed for cosmetic reasons.
The powders aren’t identified, but they may have been charcoal, sulfur, and potassium nitrate–aka gunpowder or black powder.
For those living in New England, note that the ACS Division of Chemical Health & Safety and the Lab Safety Institute are offering various discounts and scholarships for K-12 science teachers to attend safety workshops at the ACS meeting in Boston in August. Information is here (scroll down to see the workshop topics).