Date: Mon, 2 Jun 2003 12:04:35 -0400
Reply-To: "William C. Penker" <WPenker**At_Symbol_Here**NETSCAPE.NET>
Sender: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
From: "William C. Penker" <WPenker**At_Symbol_Here**NETSCAPE.NET>
Subject: Re: safety and nomenclature
Comments: To: "Greene, Ben"

Re:  sodium hydroxide and its alias "caustic soda"
     A number of years ago I was contacted by the building maintenance engineer who said,"The boiler company sent us some cleaner.  It's some kind of SODA STUFF. Can we scoop it up with our bare hands?"
     A check of the barrel revealed only the words CAUSTIC SODA.  No chemical name; no warning label.  The term caustic didn';t register because the engineer thought acids were caustic and acids are liquids and this was a solid.  The word SODA was the only one to register.

                 Wm. C. Penker
                 School District of Neillsville
                 Neillsville, WI  54456

"Greene, Ben"  wrote:

>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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