Friday chemical safety round up
Nov09

Friday chemical safety round up

First up, CENtral sSience is hosting a food science blog carnival next week! If you’ve got a favorite topic you’d like to write about out and no blog to put it on, we’ll be happy to host. See linked post for details. Now back to our regularly-scheduled (if somewhat irregularly written) chemical health and safety news from the past couple of weeks: Mythbusters is breaking out hazmat suits to explore some “Breaking Bad” chemistry, in particular the first-season scene involving use of hydrofluoric acid to dissolve a body. The episode will air in the spring. Redditors discussed lab accidents. The first response, to quote Derek Lowe, is like “the second law of thermodynamics come to take vengeance, with the entropy increasing as you go along.” Several chemistry bloggers were not impressed by Gizmodo’s “How to Use Basic Chemistry to Scare the Hell Out of Your Neighbours” Chemjobber posted about the PUREX process to extract uranium and plutonium from spent nuclear fuel: “There’s something amusing about a situation in which rocket fuel gets added to nuclear waste to generate a ‘relatively stable’ explosive waste product.” Joe Schwarcz, director of the Office for Science & Society at Canada’s McGill University, wrote about the Sangji case in the Montreal Gazette: “many chemists realize that neither UCLA nor Harran are unique examples of negligence in terms of safety, and recognize that their own closets may harbour skeletons.” UC posted a video of its “Enhancing a Culture of Safety Through the Development of a Chemical Safety Committee” webinar. Next up: “Wear Your Lab Coat! Changes in UCLA’s PPE Policy and How Researchers Responded,” Tuesday, Nov. 13, noon Pacific/3 p.m. Eastern. The chemistry department at England’s Keele University is embarking on a project dubbed CLEARS for Chemistry Laboratory Engagement and Assessment of Risk and Safety: We want to investigate ways in which students learn to think about laboratory safety. We want answers to the eternal question of why disposable nitrile gloves bestow the students with superpowers able to resist all chemicals. We want to figure out why half the class wants to put the aqueous sodium chloride in the halogenated waste. We want to investigate the misconceptions, the chemistry misconceptions, that underpin some of the frequent safety mistakes we see in the lab. We want a safety system that encourages students to think and evaluate rather than demanding simple compliance with rules but we can’t have that until we have a better idea of what on earth goes on in the minds of students when they are lurking in the laboratory. In the November issue of AIChE’s Process Safety Beacon, a challenge: Can you find...

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