Date: Mon, 2 Feb 2004 13:33:37 +0100
Reply-To: "Brock, Thomas Dr." <tbrock**At_Symbol_Here**BGCHEMIE.DE>
Sender: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
From: "Brock, Thomas Dr." <tbrock**At_Symbol_Here**BGCHEMIE.DE>
Subject: Re: Tacoma Lab Accident Injures Four
Comments: To: "Labsafe**At_Symbol_Here**AOL.COM"

Hello Jim,

is anything known about the anions of the salts she used (oxidizers)?


Dr. Thomas H. Brock
Leiter des Referates Grundlagen der Gefahr- und Biostoffe
Berufsgenossenschaft der chemischen Industrie
Kurfürsten-Anlage 62
69115 Heidelberg

-----Original Message-----
From: Jim Kaufman [mailto:Labsafe**At_Symbol_Here**AOL.COM]
Sent: Sunday, February 01, 2004 7:36 AM
To: DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU
Subject: [DCHAS-L] Tacoma Lab Accident Injures Four

Federal Way, WA: Four hurt in lab explosion
JASON HAGEY; The News Tribune

A beaker exploded Friday after a chemistry experiment went awry at
Federal Way High School, sending out a fireball that burned three students
and a
teacher. A fourth student was treated for an anxiety attack, a school
official said.

The female teacher and one male student suffered the most serious
injuries with "major burns" to their hands, arms and faces, according the
Way Fire Department.

They were taken to Harborview  Medical Center in Seattle where they were
reported in satisfactory condition Friday afternoon.

Two other male students, who suffered less severe burns, were taken by
ambulance to St. Francis Hospital in Federal Way, according to school
and hospital officials. They were treated and released Friday afternoon,
St. Francis
spokesman Gale Robinette. The fourth student, a girl who was taken to the
by her mother, also was treated and released.

The school district was not releasing the identity of any of the
victims.  Details of the injuries were not available.

The explosion occurred shortly before 1:30 p.m. in a mixed-grade
chemistry class, said Federal Way schools spokeswoman Diane Turner. About 20
to 25
students were present.  The teacher was attempting to perform a common
experiment that uses methanol and mineral salts to show how different metals
different colors
of flames.

She told the class, "This is why fireworks turn colors," and proceeded to
pour material into a glass beaker, said student Mallory Crist. When nothing
happened, the teacher began to add more material, Crist said. That's when
beaker exploded, sending up a flame that "looked like a blow torch."

"It was scary," Crist said. "It was freaky."

Diana Solis, 17, said the flame "just came over to us, it touched all of
us."  "I never saw anything like it," she said.

One of the injured students' hair and pants caught fire, Solis added.
According to the Federal Way Fire Department, a quick-thinking student
used his coat to smother the fire on the teacher and students used three
extinguishers to put out the rest of the fire.

Teachers from throughout the school also rushed in to help put out the
fire, which was contained to the one classroom, Turner said.
A witness told fire investigators that the teacher attempted to ignite
methanol in some coffee cup-sized glass beakers. "When they failed to
ignite, she began to add more methanol. When she began pouring into the
third beaker, there was an explosion as the undetected flame ignited the
fresh vapors," fire officials said.

Superintendent Tom Murphy called for an investigation to determine what
went wrong, Turner said.  "We have to know and make sure this doesn't happen
again," she said. The same experiment was performed successfully the class
period before
the fire, the Fire Department reported, and Turner described it as a
"common, basic science experiment."
"We don't understand what happened," she said.

According to the Flinn Chemical and Biological Reference Manual 2002,
which was used by the school, the experiment is intended to "demonstrate the
characteristics of color of several metal ions with a flame test that is
large enough for an entire classroom to observe."

James Kaufman, director of the Laboratory Safety Institute in Natick,
Mass., a nonprofit organization that promotes safety in science and
agreed that the experiment described in Federal Way is a common one, and
it is generally safe.  But accidents aren't unheard of, he said.
"There is essentially nothing wrong with the experiment," Kaufman said.
"However, you are setting things on fire in front of students. It should
be done behind a shield."

A shield was not present in the Federal Way classroom, Turner said.
"None of our classrooms are set up that way," she said.

Students evacuated the school and went to the gymnasium right after the
fire broke out, Turner said. Because it happened close to the end of the
school day, which is normally 2:10 p.m., buses were already arriving and
students were sent home early.

North Bend WA

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