Accessing information for chemical safety–and teaching students how to do it, too

“Emerging Opportunities in Chemical Safety Information” is the subject of a webinar coming up this Friday, Dec. 4, at 8 am US Pacific/11 am US Eastern Standard Time:

Public and professional concern about chemical safety in laboratories have mounted over the last decade as a series of incidents in research, teaching and high school settings have led to serious injuries and deaths. In response, several ACS committees and divisions have provided guidance on developing risk assessments for laboratory procedures. However, this strategy faces two specific challenges:

1) convenient access to reliable chemical safety information; and
2) lack of systematic guidance to use this information to identify appropriate hazard management strategies.

This webinar will describe collaborative efforts between the Divisions of Chemical Information and Chemical Health & Safety to address these challenges. Specific resources, such as PubChem’s Laboratory Chemical Safety Summaries will be described, as well as logic tools which can support the use of these resources. Opportunities for partnerships for further improving these sources and tools will be discussed.

Presenting will be Ralph Stuart, chemical hygiene officer at Keene State College; Leah Rae McEwen, director of the Edna McConnell Clark Physical Sciences eLibrary and chemistry librarian at Cornell University; and Evan Bolton, lead scientist for the National Center for Biotechnology Information, which is part of the U. S. National Library of Medicine.

To connect to the webinar, go here and enter as a Guest:
If you can’t attend it live, the webinar will be archived at:

J. Chem. Educ. 2015, DOI: 10.1021/acs.jchemed.5b00511

J. Chem. Educ. 2015, DOI: 10.1021/acs.jchemed.5b00511

Also, coming up in January is a Journal of Chemical Education special issue focusing on chemical information. One of the papers in that special issue is already available and open access: “The Safety ‘Use Case’: Co-Developing Chemical Information Management and Laboratory Safety Skills,” J. Chem. Educ. 2015, DOI: 10.1021/acs.jchemed.5b00511, by Stuart and McEwen. Here’s the abstract:

The 2015 edition of the American Chemical Society’s Guidelines and Evaluation Procedures for Bachelor’s Degree Programs identifies six skill sets that undergraduate chemistry programs should instill in their students. In our roles as support staff for chemistry departments at two different institutions (one a Primarily Undergraduate Institution, the other a research intensive university), we have been collaboratively studying these requirements and have found significant synergies between two in particular: “Chemical Literature and Information Management Skills” and “Laboratory Safety Skills”. We believe that by integrating emerging tools in the laboratory safety field into information literacy frameworks, a strong foundation can be established for the development of all the skills called out by the ACS. This article describes this strategy and provides examples of how these concepts can be implemented in both the chemistry teaching and research laboratory settings.

Author: Jyllian Kemsley

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