There is a vast difference in a mindset of a consumer expecting a “safe” product, and of a trained chemist using a hazardous chemical with acceptable risk.
As a consumer I expect the products I buy not to harm me in a noticeable way when following 5th grade level directions. As a chemist I was trained to use hazardous chemicals with layers of protection that make the risk of use acceptable to me. I am also trained to dispose the results of my experiments in ways that minimize the damage to the environment.
Designing an interesting chemical experiment for 12 year olds at a “consumer” level of safety is a huge challenge. Perhaps it is too big for a for-profit organization.
Slawomir Janicki, Ph.D.
P.S. When I was in 6th grade I did walk around with singed eyebrows after a home chemistry experiment went wrong. By chance I was wearing prescription glasses, so the only things that got singed were my eyebrows and my pride. Would I become a chemist without this experience? Perhaps not. Just the same, there are better ways to educate about heat transfer than sticking my finger into a fireplace.
Thank you, Monona. On a totally non-technical note, it bothers me that many propagate the notion that "fun chemistry" is not, or cannot be "safe chemistry".
On 11/16/2013 10:25 AM, Monona Rossol wrote:
You may think because I'm an industrial hygienist that I look at it in terms of worker safety, but that's not at all what I'm doing. I also vote on literally hundreds of ASTM consumer safety and labeling standards and I deal with all levels of school safety. The CPSC regulations define a "child" as grade 6 and under which is age 12/13. So my first issue is with the age RANGE for which this educational "toy" is the suggested.
Next, the Federal Hazardous Substances Act as amended in 1989 (by a law I helped get passed) limits chemicals in children's materials to those that do not have to carry serious hazard warnings. So I would suggest people not invest in this company, because the first lawsuit filed against them for an accident or even deliberate misuse of those chemicals by someone under grade six is likely to be dicey for the Defendants.
The next issue, as pointed up by others on this forum, is the "failure to warn" issue seen in the poor quality MSDSs. While MSDSs and SDSs carry some liability for worker exposure injuries, the worker cannot sue for workplace injuries so there is little case law to look to. But providing confusing or misleading information to consumers, who can be assumed not to be trained or educated in chemical safety, is a strict liability issue with a long history of precedent. If a jury composed of ordinary consumers can easily see how the parents were confused by the MSDSs/SDS, product literature, or labels, they will sympathize with the Plaintiffs.
Then I'd suggest lawyers top off that case by showing that other labeling laws, shipping regulations, and a number of other smaller issues I noticed are also violations. Now we have the Defendants for lunch.
If I were the owner of this company, I would get over the idea that my website was a version of the Sharks TV program on which he gets investors to make his business a big deal. He needs to: 1) restrict the customer age range; 2) sit with lawyers to develop literature that fully warns parents about the potentials for harm; 3) stop writing his own MSDSs as he proudly acclaims and for which he is unqualified; 4) direct link consumers instead to other free and respected sources such as the NJ DOH Right to Know Fact Sheets which ARE written for chemically unsophisticated people; and 5) obtain permission to use MSDS information from sources such as Aldrich or one of the major chemical suppliers and regularly updated.
The business would be smaller, but he wouldn't be putting his own livelihood and his investors money is in such obvious jeopardy.
Monona Rossol, M.S., M.F.A., Industrial Hygienist
President: Arts, Crafts & Theater Safety, Inc.
Safety Officer: Local USA829, IATSE
181 Thompson St., #23
New York, NY 10012 212-777-0062
From: Eric Clark <erclark**At_Symbol_Here**PH.LACOUNTY.GOV>
To: DCHAS-L <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU>
Sent: Fri, Nov 15, 2013 11:48 pm
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Heirloom Chemistry Set Kickstarter ProjectWe're evaluating this chemistry set is as if it were a worker safety thing. Bythe time we insert all the proper documentation and remove all the risky thingsit won't be fun anymore. It would be more like work.
This chemistry set isn't some Walmart item from the toy department, it's aserious learning activity that's also fun. If anyone is interested enough towant to spend this kind of money and share this with their significant youngpeople, then they'll also provide some kind of proper supervision and beresponsible, and not try to figure out a way to blame John Farrell Kuhns ifsomething goes wrong. Btw, I thought that list of chemicals was prettyimpressive.
Or, maybe we should download the smart phone app and just simulate thechemistry.
Eric Clark, MS, CHMM, CCHOSafety Officer, Public Health Scientist IIILos Angeles County Public Health Laboratory(562) 658-1486(562) 401-5999 Fax
-----Original Message-----From: DCHAS-L Discussion List [mailto:dchas-l**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU] On Behalf OfPeifer, PatriciaSent: Friday, November 15, 2013 1:10 PMSubject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Heirloom Chemistry Set Kickstarter Project
My sister is a dental hygenist and has a patient who many, many years ago got achemistry set for Christmas and gave himself a permanent gum injury by stickingone of the chemicals in his mouth. I do not know what the chemical was, butmust have been rather aggressive from what my sister describes.
Of course she also has a patient who still has a BB lodged in his cheek (thekind of cheek that would be involved in a dental x-ray) from an incidentinvolving his brother and a BB gun, also many, many years ago.
-----Original Message-----From: DCHAS-L Discussion List [mailto:dchas-l**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU] On Behalf OfDerheimer, Dan GSent: Friday, November 15, 2013 2:32 PMSubject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Heirloom Chemistry Set Kickstarter Project
Sounds like their safety information is "heirloom" also.
Dan DerheimerDirectorEnvironmental Health & SafetyIndiana University Bloomington1514 E. 3rd St.Bloomington, IN 47405812-855-3234
-----Original Message-----From: DCHAS-L Discussion List [mailto:dchas-l**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU] On Behalf OfPeter ZavonSent: Friday, November 15, 2013 10:37 AMSubject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Heirloom Chemistry Set Kickstarter Project
This sounds kind of interesting but I begin to question the validity of theentire enterprise (especially their stated concern for safety) when I see thatbenzene is one of the compounds provided with their kit AND that the MSDS theyoffer for benzene not only lacks any mention that it is a known humancarcinogen, but includes the line "Chronic Exposure: No information found." (Itdoes state "Known Carcinogen" under Section 16: otherinformation)
It also states in Section 8 that no airborne exposure limits have beenestablished while burying the OSHA and ACGIH limits in Section 15 Regulatoryinformation.
I've not checked any of their other MSDS, but benzene is so widely known in thisregard that I have to wonder what these people think they are doing.
Peter Zavon, CIHPenfield, NY
-----Original Message-----From: DCHAS-L Discussion List [mailto:dchas-l**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU] On Behalf OfRalph B. StuartSent: Friday, November 15, 2013 8:11 AMSubject: [DCHAS-L] Heirloom Chemistry Set Kickstarter Project
Here's something that I think will interest many on the DCHAS-L list... itaddresses chemical safety issues in interesting ways.
Heirloom Chemistry Set Kickstarter Project
This is the chemistry set you always wanted as a kid but either didn't get it oryou got stuck with some cheap plastic wannabe...
Ralph Stuart, CIHChemical Hygiene OfficerCornell University
Find West on Twitter <http://twitter.com/#!/WestPharma> and LinkedIn<http://www.linkedin.com/company/west-pharmaceutical-services?trk=fc_badge>.
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