Date: Mon, 19 May 2003 12:00:49 -0600
Reply-To: "Greene, Ben" <bgreene**At_Symbol_Here**SMTP3.WSTF.NASA.GOV>
Sender: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
From: "Greene, Ben" <bgreene**At_Symbol_Here**SMTP3.WSTF.NASA.GOV>
Subject: safety and nomenclature

Hello List - For training purposes, I'm putting together a list of
laboratory incidents/accidents/close calls/confusions that resulted from use
of incorrect nomenclature (to emphasize the need to use and understand
correct nomenclature).  If you can think of any that would be of use, I
would appreciate it.  I can also summarize and post to the list.

I've got the old "barium oxide" name for "barium peroxide", and the classic
trike/TCE/PCE/TCA mess for the chlorinated ethanes/ethenes so dearly loved
as cleaning solvents.

A related example of what I'm looking for and the reference follow:

A violent explosion took place after a student (pursuing an independent
research project) attempted to follow a standard U.K. forensic procedure for
fiber analysis.  The student had used 0.1 g of a jute rope sample, 20 ml of
glacial acetic acid, and 20 ml of 30 percent hydrogen peroxide.  After
heating the mixture in a flask in a boiling water bath on a hotplate, a
detonation occurred.  The ceramic top of the hotplate blew apart into rather
massive fragments that were thought responsible for the cracking and damage
of the laminated safety glass of the fume hood sash.  Fortunately, the hood
sash was down and the blast and fragments confined to the hood with no
injuries.  In this case, the mishap was attributed in part to the use of a
more concentrated hydrogen peroxide solution than was called for in the
procedure.  This was due to the nomenclature employed by the U.K. procedure
that was unfamiliar to American workers:  a "20 volume" hydrogen peroxide
solution was called for, not 20 percent.  A "20 volume" hydrogen peroxide
solution refers to the amount of hydrogen peroxide that can evolve 20 ml of
oxygen for each ml of solution, and actually corresponds to 6 percent
hydrogen peroxide.  Other factors, such as possible metal ions in the fiber
sample or accidental contaminants may also have played a role in the
explosion.  In addition, the shattering of the ceramic hotplate top
suggested this possible shrapnel source might best be avoided where
explosion hazards may occur.

De Forest, P. and Rothchild, R.  "Fiber Analysis Using Heated Hydrogen
Peroxide."  Chemical & Engineering News, Vol. 65(31), 1987:2

Thanks, Ben

Ben Greene, Ph.D.
Honeywell, NASA White Sands Test Facility

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