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Why Scary Lab Accidents Happen

About 10 to 50 times more lab accidents occur in schools and universities than in industry.

Enrico Uva, Science 2.0
If a chemist has never been in a lab accident, he has been lucky. Of course luck is more likely to come to those whose mentors have learned from bad experiences and to those who have taken preventive measures seriously, despite their anal nature. Chemical reactions create products with behaviors that differ from those of the ingredients. That's what makes them intriguing, and it's also what makes them potentially dangerous. No matter how simple and controllable a reaction seems on paper, when it's carried out in real life, the exact conditions determine its rate. And when gases or acids acquire too much kinetic energy, no one wants eyes, lungs and flesh in their way.

UCLA Professor Arraigned in Fatal Accident

LA Times
A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge entered a not guilty plea Wednesday on behalf of a UCLA chemistry professor arraigned on felony charges in a 2008 laboratory fire that killed a staff research assistant.

Judge Shelly Torrealba also set a preliminary hearing on Oct. 9 for professor Patrick Harran, who is charged with three counts of willfully violating state occupational health and safety standards.

Exploding Experiment, No Injuries

UC Davis Report
Failure to maintain equipment properly has apparently resulted in another academic lab safety incident, but one that, fortunately, caused no injuries, reports Jyllian Kemsley at Chemical & Engineering News. On 23 January, undergraduates in a physical chemistry class at the University of California, Davis, were working with a piece of equipment called a bomb calorimeter when it exploded. (Despite its name, that is not supposed to happen.) The lid of the metal instrument was "forcibly propelled upward" until it hit the ceiling and other metal fragments and pieces of a mercury thermometer were sprayed into the room, according to a report on the event by a university chemical hygiene officer.

Fire in Chemistry Lab Cancels Classes & Sends Students Home


School District Chemicals Audit Reaches End

By: Arizona Republic News

WV DEP
After the Arizona Fire Marshal’s Office wrote up Mesa High School during the first week of school for improper storage and identification of chemicals on campus, the district is nearing completion of a comprehensive effort to identify and log thousands of chemicals in Mesa’s 84 schools.

The district is entering the names, amounts and expiration dates of the substances into a database that can be accessed by school officials and outside emergency workers. Officials also are creating a comprehensive safety training program for everyone who handles chemicals in the district — from custodians to chemistry teachers.

Building Evacuated - One Injured


www.chemicallabels.com/
Biochemistry building evacuated, one injured after chemical spill
A hazardous materials crew, police officers, ambulances and fire trucksresponded to a chemical spill in a UW-Madison biochemistry laboratory after agraduate student spilled a highly flammable solvent, injuring one person.

According to a graduate student in the Biochemistry building, the studentspilled about 40 liters of tetrahydrofuran (THF), a chemical that can dissolve awide range of materials including latex gloves, flooring and other plastics, inthe Ronald Raines laboratory between 10:15 and 10:45 a.m.

UCLA 2009 Incident - Felony Charges

Sangji's lab notebook reveals that she
planned to react vinyl bromide with
tert-butyllithium as the first step of a
larger synthesis. ACS
Below are articles reviewing the most recent information on the investigation.

Los Angeles Times
A research assistant was fatally burned when chemicals burst into flame. Her death three years ago has focused attention on safety issues.
December 28, 2011