Spark from pressure gauge caused University of Hawaii explosion

The explosion that injured a 29-year-old researcher on March 16 cracked the glass in the door of the lab where she was working. Credit: Allyson Blair/Hawaii News Now

The explosion that injured a 29-year-old researcher on March 16 cracked the glass in the door of the lab where she was working. Credit: Allyson Blair/Hawaii News Now

From my story at C&EN:

An explosion last month that caused a University of Hawaii, Manoa, postdoctoral researcher to lose an arm was caused by a spark from a digital pressure gauge that was not designed for use with flammable gases, says a Honolulu Fire Department investigation report.

Go read the story for more, including some context about how the lab’s experimental set-up seems to have changed, based on a prior publication from the lab compared to what Ekins-Coward and the PI told investigators.

The University of California Center for Laboratory Safety investigation report is expected to be finished by the end of this month. The Hawaii Occupational Safety & Health Division is also investigating the incident.

Other coverage and commentary:
U Hawaii story with recording of press briefing – Investigation continues into lab explosion at UH
Chemjobber – More details on the UH-Manoa incident: explosion probably due to sparking pressure gauge
KHON – Investigating entity hired by UH founded after similar laboratory explosion (KHON and other Hawaiian news organizations also had other stories, but this one went beyond just reporting the facts in the fire department report)
Science – University of Hawaii lab explosion caused by inappropriate gauge
Chemistry World – Hawaii lab explosion linked to safety failings
Curiosity Science – Dear chemists: Please be safe

Author: Jyllian Kemsley

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