From: Amy Westervelt <amy.westervelt**At_Symbol_Here**GMAIL.COM>
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Heirloom Chemistry Set Kickstarter Project
Date: Sat, 16 Nov 2013 10:23:39 -0800
Reply-To: DCHAS-L <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU>
Message-ID: CAD3mr+Sb6vZ5TvP+EMCSb54TbtQ1BXze0QBkNSmNQOkb-ws77w**At_Symbol_Here**
In-Reply-To <52879FFC.8080906**At_Symbol_Here**>

For what it's worth, I contacted John Farrell Kuhns directly about this, and here's what he had to say:

Benzene is NOT INCLUDED in the kit. Our Safety Date Sheets follow
the OSHA recommended format, and while we do sell benzene we don't sell it
to children or in our chemistry sets.

Our Safety Data Sheets are derived from those of the original

I have been an ACS member for nearly 50 years so I am more than cognizant of what is appropriate when it comes to kids and chemicals. We have more than 1,000 members in our student's Science Club and we have classes and workshops for them at least 3 times a month all year long.
We have been selling chemicals and chemistry sets for more than 10 years. We have two basic customers, for our chemicals, home hobbyists and lab professionals. In addition we sell to the area's HAZMAT teams.
We are very responsible when it comes to safety and education especially when it comes to families and children. Thanks for stating your concerns and if I can provide any other information please do not hesitate to ask.
FWIW neither of the two chemicals you asked about are included in any of our chemistry sets. As we get ready to ship these sets we will ascertain to what home setting each will be going and suggest appropriate substitutions in both chemicals and equipment.

On Sat, Nov 16, 2013 at 8:40 AM, Samuella Sigmann <sigmannsb**At_Symbol_Here**> wrote:
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

-----Original Message-----
From: Eric Clark <erclark**At_Symbol_Here**PH.LACOUNTY.GOV>
Sent: Fri, Nov 15, 2013 11:48 pm
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Heirloom Chemistry Set Kickstarter Project

We're evaluating this chemistry set is as if it were a worker safety thing.  By 
the time we insert all the proper documentation and remove all the risky things 
it 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 a 
serious learning activity that's also fun.  If anyone is interested enough to 
want to spend this kind of money and share this with their significant young 
people, then they'll also provide some kind of proper supervision and be 
responsible, and not try to figure out a way to blame John Farrell Kuhns if 
something goes wrong.  Btw, I thought that list of chemicals was pretty 

Or, maybe we should download the smart phone app and just simulate the 


Eric Clark, MS, CHMM, CCHO 
Safety Officer, Public Health Scientist III 
Los 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 Of 
Peifer, Patricia
Sent: Friday, November 15, 2013 1:10 PM
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Heirloom Chemistry Set Kickstarter Project

My sister is a dental hygenist and has a patient who many, many years ago got a 
chemistry set for Christmas and gave himself a permanent gum injury by sticking 
one of the chemicals in his mouth.  I do not know what the chemical was, but 
must 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 (the 
kind of cheek that would be involved in a dental x-ray) from an incident 
involving 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 Of 
Derheimer, Dan G
Sent: Friday, November 15, 2013 2:32 PM
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Heirloom Chemistry Set Kickstarter Project

Sounds like their safety information is "heirloom" also.

Dan Derheimer
Environmental Health & Safety
Indiana University Bloomington
1514 E. 3rd St.
Bloomington, IN 47405

-----Original Message-----
From: DCHAS-L Discussion List [mailto:dchas-l**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU] On Behalf Of 
Peter Zavon
Sent: Friday, November 15, 2013 10:37 AM
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Heirloom Chemistry Set Kickstarter Project

This sounds kind of interesting but I begin to question the validity of the 
entire enterprise (especially their stated concern for safety) when I see that 
benzene is one of the compounds provided with their kit AND that the MSDS they 
offer for benzene not only lacks any mention that it is a known human 
carcinogen, but includes the line "Chronic Exposure: No information found." (It 
does state "Known Carcinogen" under Section 16: other

It also states in Section 8 that no airborne exposure limits have been 
established while burying the OSHA and ACGIH limits in Section 15 Regulatory 

I've not checked any of their other MSDS, but benzene is so widely known in this 
regard that I have to wonder what these people think they are doing.

Peter Zavon, CIH
Penfield, NY


-----Original Message-----
From: DCHAS-L Discussion List [mailto:dchas-l**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU] On Behalf Of 
Ralph B. Stuart
Sent: Friday, November 15, 2013 8:11 AM
Subject: [DCHAS-L] Heirloom Chemistry Set Kickstarter Project

Here's something that I think will interest many on the DCHAS-L list... it 
addresses chemical safety issues in interesting ways.

- Ralph

Heirloom Chemistry Set Kickstarter Project

This is the chemistry set you always wanted as a kid but either didn't get it or 
you got stuck with some cheap plastic wannabe...

Ralph Stuart, CIH
Chemical Hygiene Officer
Cornell University

Find West on Twitter <!/WestPharma> and LinkedIn<>.

 The contents of this message are confidential and may be privileged. If you 
have received this message in error, please permanently delete it, along with 
any files that may be attached to this message, without reading, printing, 
copying, forwarding or otherwise distributing it. Please notify the sender of 
the error immediately so that we can prevent it from happening again.

Previous post   |  Top of Page   |   Next post

The content of this page reflects the personal opinion(s) of the author(s) only, not the American Chemical Society, ILPI, Safety Emporium, or any other party. Use of any information on this page is at the reader's own risk. Unauthorized reproduction of these materials is prohibited. Send questions/comments about the archive to
The maintenance and hosting of the DCHAS-L archive is provided through the generous support of Safety Emporium.