Date: Wed, 26 Oct 2011 15:07:58 -0400
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From: "Secretary, ACS Division of Chemical Health and Safety"

Subject: 4 RE: [DCHAS-L] Chemical Safety headlines from Google (24
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From: Kristi Ohr 
Subject: RE: [DCHAS-L] Chemical Safety headlines from Google (24 articles)
Date: October 26, 2011 2:36:41 PM EDT

Nitric acid reacts with copper to yield nitrogen dioxide, a rather nasty gas.

==From: Ben Ruekberg 
Subject: RE: [DCHAS-L] Chemical Safety headlines from Google (24 articles)
Date: October 26, 2011 2:33:03 PM EDT
To: "'DCHAS-L'" 
While I agree with the spirit of these comments, I think it is important to remember that when nitric acid reacts with copper NO2 is produce and it is highly toxic.  It does not encourage me that the responders did not seem to be aware of this hazard.

I hope I have not been a wet blanket.

From: Carel 
Subject: RE: [DCHAS-L] Chemical Safety headlines from Google (24 articles)
Date: October 26, 2011 2:49:04 PM EDT
OK, Class.  Which of these two completely different stories is true?

My vote:  the first one.
===From: Margaret Rakas 
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Chemical Safety headlines from Google (24 articles)
Well, I don't know what your local fire department is like...but around here, the 97 minutes would be the 'on site time' which is fairly reasonable given they show up, they find the folks in charge, they talk to the lab folks, they suit up to some degree, they figure out if they can go in to clean up the spill without taking readings, or what readings should be taken and the level of protection...then the material gets neutralized or whatever.  They would likely determine what the air changes per hour are, too, and review their plans for handling a "level 4" (HMIS, H=4) oxidizer spill...

I doubt very much they would enter without at least respirators (probably SCBA, since they're the fire dept) and some kind of protective garment.  Regarding 23 responders...well, there may be all sorts of work rules involved.  Or 20 may have gone along as a training session.

I have been involved (both as a 'participant' and as a fellow EH&S person) with a couple of hazmat teams...none of them go into a spill without a good plan, a feeling that they understand the situation completely, and probably what many lab chemists would consider an overreactive amount of PPE and a delayed time getting into the lab.  However, they do this for a living and don't want to be a 'poster child' for what can go wrong on a hazmat response.

Long story short, I think DCHAS needs to get some sort of journalism program together....or work with colleges/universities that specialize in science writing, or journalism--and offer some sort of info packet, or mini-course, or SOMETHING.  I think the fault here, dear Brutus, is in the journalism...

(Regarding the copper melting, or not...I have no clue and no opinion!)

Just my observations based on prior experience...

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