More on the UC Berkeley dizaonium perchlorate explosion

Researcher’s glasses after explosion. One lens and a temple bar have been blown away. The other lens is shattered. (Credit: UC Berkeley Office of Environment, Health & Safety)

Researcher’s glasses after explosion. One lens and a temple bar have been blown away. The other lens is shattered. (Credit: UC Berkeley Office of Environment, Health & Safety)

From C&EN’s Aug. 24 issue, here’s a feature that I wrote about the explosion at the University of California, Berkeley, that occurred when a graduate student was transferring a diazonium perchlorate compound out of a porcelain funnel. He was wearing standard prescription eyeglasses rather than protective eyewear, and the funnel fragments shattered his glasses and lacerated his left cornea.

UC Berkeley posted a description of the incident and follow-up actions, and I blogged about that in June. For the magazine story, I
spoke with chemistry professor Dean Toste and UC Berkeley environment, health and safety director Mark Freiberg about what happened and the reasons for the specific responses. From the article:

“It’s not to the student’s benefit if we restrict hypothesis- and curiosity-driven research,” Toste says. “But we have to change the culture so that it’s second nature to always put on safety glasses and other [personal protective equipment] and to check the [standard operating procedure].”

Go read if you’d like to learn more.

Author: Jyllian Kemsley

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1 Comment

  1. Is UCB be willing to publish/provide the referenced SOP (“Standard Operating Procedure for Potentially Explosive Compounds”) provided to their students prior to the accident as well as any revisions to the document post-accident? The links at the Lesson Learned link provided are weak at best. For example, the “Campus Guidelines for Potentially Explosive Chemical Safe Storage and Handling” at http://ehs.berkeley.edu/sites/default/files/lines-of-services/hazardous-materials/pecguidelines.pdf provides NO information or instruction on how to actually handle or conduct experiments with explosive compounds.