Date: Fri, 13 Apr 2007 15:39:52 -0400
Reply-To: Ernie Lippert <ernielippert**At_Symbol_Here**TOAST.NET>
Sender: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
From: Ernie Lippert <ernielippert**At_Symbol_Here**TOAST.NET>
Subject: Re: Undergraduate Accident
Comments: To: DAVID KATZ
In-Reply-To: <BAY106-DAV115712EE179CB794980D6DC55D0**At_Symbol_Here**phx.gbl>
Sorry to bring up two exceptions to the "I'll stress, as others have, NEVER
treat a chemical injury with another chemical" Although this is may be
excellent advice in this litigious world, I can think of two exceptions.
Admittedly, neither are likely to come up in present day undergraduate
laboratories (although I used HF in an undergraduate quant lab in 1951
taught by Horace H. Bliss, a fine gentleman and chemist if any of you might
remember him).

1.	Hydrofluoric acid skin contact areas must be immediately flushed
with "tepid" water (or any water handy) for  2 - 3 minutes, not longer, (HF
has a propensity to quickly eat through the flesh down to the bone) and then
be covered with commercially available 2.5% Calcium gluconate cream before
transporting to your local hospital (who, though your due diligence, will
have information [and supplies] on how to treat HF burns, possibly with
calcium gluconate injections around the exposure site). HF burns are serious
and must have immediate treatment. Since 1954 I have direct knowledge of two
serious HF burns and some minor exposures. Everyone lived.

Indirectly I was involved via a hospital with interstate connections about a
maintenance man who took a cleaning solution containing HF home from his
place of employment to polish his door knobs.
2.	Lithium metal in contact with the skin will likely burst into flame
because of moisture. The immediate action here is to immerse the (burning)
part into a mixture of oil and graphite. The endothermic reaction between Li
and C will extinguish the blaze. This knowledge comes from my 1953 job at

Ernie Lippert
Retired, Monarch Analytical Laboratories

-----Original Message-----
From: DCHAS-L Discussion List [mailto:DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU] On Behalf Of
Sent: Friday, April 13, 2007 10:59 AM
To: DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Undergraduate Accident

Hi Ed,

First, you did the correct action by washing the affected area with water
and then seeking qualified medical assistance for the student.  As you
pointed out, the student was properly escorted to the University Health
Center.  I'll stress, as others have, NEVER treat a chemical injury with
another chemical.

The major problem is the University Health Center not being able, or
willing, to evaluate and treat the chemical burn.  As the student did not
have medical insurance, she refused hospital emergency room referral and
possibly risked further consequences from her injury.  Unfortunately, as is
the case for many students who are barely making ends meet while attending
school, she could not afford her own medical insurance and did not get the
qualified medical evaluation of her injury - that is totally unacceptable.
I don't know what the practice is at your university, but, at many schools
students are generally required to buy a medical policy at some nominal fee
(usually less than $100) for the year.  If that policy exists at your
institution, then it is imperative that your institution evaluate that
policy to make certain that a laboratory injury is covered so the students
will receive the necessary medical care.  The other option is that the
university covers the medical cost for the student with the understanding
that it is not accepting any liability for the accident. The liability issue
should be separate from insuring the well being of the student as well as
the employees.


  David A. Katz              
  Chemist, Educator, Expert Demonstrator, Science Communicator, and
  Programs and workshops for teachers, schools, museums, and the public
  133 N. Desert Stream Dr. * Tucson, AZ 85745-2277 *  USA
  voice/fax: (520) 624-2207 * email:
           Visit my web site:
  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Edward Senkbeil
  To: DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU
  Sent: Thursday, April 12, 2007 11:52 AM
  Subject: [DCHAS-L] Undergraduate Accident

  Recently we had an accident in the general chemistry lad where a student
  spilled some 4.0M NaoH on her wrist.
  The protocol we have followed in the past is to wash with water for 15
  minutes and then send to the University Health Center.  We. normally
  follow the protocol to "Protect, but not treat".  The skin was slightly
  red due to the spill.

  When the student reached (was escorted to) the Health Center, they said
  they could not treat chemical burns.
  They wanted to send her to the hospital emergency room, but the student
  didn't go because of lack of insurance.

  Three days after the accident, the student's wrist still has a few pink

  The questions are:

  1. Should we (lab instructors) treat by neutralizing the base with
  something llike vinega, rather than just washing?

  2. Who should be responsible (or maybe liable) for appropriate
  treatment?  Howd do university health centers handle someting like this
  incident at other universities?

  Thanks for any information,
  Ed Senkbeil
  Chemistry Department
  Salisbury University

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