From: Kim Gates <kim.gates**At_Symbol_Here**STONYBROOK.EDU>
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] CSB statement on High School Laboratory Fire in New York City
Date: Mon, 6 Jan 2014 07:59:11 -0500
Reply-To: DCHAS-L <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU>
Message-ID: CAA4EBLtsbAey=RQBRO8TYaCEzUR9C8GA05hJAjNdkvbmrtHsZA**At_Symbol_Here**
In-Reply-To <7AB8F8BFE46C5446902F26C10EBF4AEA54B2EE2C**At_Symbol_Here**>

I think that all of as at universities have a great opportunity as a CHO & members of DCHAS. I wanted to share what I've been doing locally to help promote lab safety with HS teachers.

1. Several years ago when I put together our Minors in Research Labs program (, I reached out to our local Science & Engineering Fair group ( We have about 300 HS students every year on our campus conducting independent research, and many of them are working towards winning the national science/engineering competitions. The LISEF group is made up of dedicated HS science teachers and they were worried my policy would eliminate the chance of their students working at SBU. We worked together & they understood that would not happen but their students would benefit by learning more about lab safety. They put my name & web site on their page for all the HS teachers/parents to see for lab safety questions.

2. Because of my outreach to the local HS research groups, I created an email list that is close to 50. It also includes the school insurance reps (I knew them from the local ASSE) and every HS science teacher my daughter has had. I use this email group to send out safety messages and let the research teachers know when we've scheduled the HS lab safety training in June. The insurance reps share all these emails with the school district safety committees that they are members of. LISEF is also on this list & my emails get posted on their web site.

3. Whenever a school lab incident is reported in those GREAT DCHAS news emails, I send it to my HS email list as a "Lessons Learned". I give a quick description, what they can do to make it safer in their labs to avoid this incident and a direct link to the subject on my web site for more information. I also include the news article to make it "real". I emailed out the CSB report with the video they sent last month. I may have gotten a bit preachy on the methanol accident that happened JUST before the CSB video release (how many more of these lessons learned will I have to send out?), and I also included the link to the NSTA report on this problem: safety alert from the National Science Teachers Association:

4. Because last week's NYC methanol incident is so close to home, I will be sending out another lessons learned to the HS group. I'm glad it didn't occur in a school district I may have contact with, but it could have. I will also be asking the email recipients on their ideas on how to get this message out to more people - the NYC teacher may be a friend of someone in my group.

I think ACS/DCHAS/CCS should keep working to produce lab safety guidance for teachers/school districts. But I don't think its going to reach all of the teachers. The NSTA report was not known by most teachers. This is their own organization! The CSB message most definitely did not reach the teachers. While I don't have any data to show that my email group & outreach has made a difference, I've gotten lots of positive feedback from them. If it has kept 1 student from being burned, I've done my job.. I urge all of the university CHO/DCHAS members to reach out to their local schools and SEF groups. I'm sure you all have HS students on your campus using your labs.

Kim Gates
Laboratory Safety Specialist
Environmental Health & Safety
Stony Brook University
Stony Brook, NY 11794-6200
FAX: 631-632-9683
EH&S Web site:

On Sun, Jan 5, 2014 at 7:56 PM, David C. Finster <dfinster**At_Symbol_Here**> wrote:
I agree with Neal, mostly:

I would also consider engaging the NSTA, or at least reach out to this organization as we pursue this project. I suspect that many science teachers have a stronger affinity to that organization than to the ACS and we should seek partners that have street credibility with teachers. I'm speculating here; if anyone (such as some high school chemistry teachers reading this?) please weigh in.

If we really want to serve the high school teaching community (and I take that to be the primary motivating here, of course) I'd suggest that we offer workshops for free instead of some per person charge. Many, but perhaps not all, school systems are having budgets slashed in recent years. (And, I'd expect that many teachers would not attend such a workshop unless they get a stipend for attending. Thus, any charge on our part requires "double payment" by a school system.) I'd wager that the amount of money this effort would recover is a tiny, tiny fraction of the ACS budget, and/or corporate sponsorship seems possible. Whether the presenters are volunteers or get paid a nominal stipend is worth discussing; I'd favor the latter.

And: Lots rural and small school systems only have one chemistry teacher.. How to reach out to them would be problematic. I mention this only as something to think about, not as a criticism of the main idea. And, surely it is better to have a program that works for some (but not all) rather than trying to design an impossible structure that can effectively reach everyone.


David C. Finster
Professor, Department of Chemistry
University Chemical Hygiene Officer
Wittenberg University

-----Original Message-----
From: DCHAS-L Discussion List [mailto:dchas-l**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU] On Behalf Of NEAL LANGERMAN
Sent: Sunday, January 05, 2014 1:33 PM
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] CSB statement on High School Laboratory Fire in New York City


CCS should take the lead on several fronts

1. Work with Diane and Bill to hold a subject conference on the issue. Attendees should be ACS, CSB, and appropriate K-12 educational leaders and associations
2. Develop and offer a 2- 3 workshop on doing HS demonstrations. ACS should offer this to any school districts that want it for a nominal fee - maybe $50 per person. If CCS puts it together as a solid package, we can draw on local CHAS members - and others from ACS - to present it to the school district.

I am afraid that ACS will be embarrassed professionally if the public starts asking why ACS is not doing something about this. This entire initiative will draw on resources we already have and will not be overly expensive.

Let's make this a 2014 goal.


Standard confidentiality terms apply

PO Box 152329
011(619) 990-4908 (phone, 24/7)

-----Original Message-----
From: DCHAS-L Discussion List [mailto:dchas-l**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU] On Behalf Of Robert Hill
Sent: Saturday, January 04, 2014 1:56 PM
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] CSB statement on High School Laboratory Fire in New York City

When I read about this yesterday this was exactly my reaction. It sounds like the same experiment that uses methanol and the demonstrators are just unaware about the conditions that cause fires or they just underestimate the risk of the fire and explosion and don't provide proper protections for their students. I am wondering if CCS should issue some sort of warning about this particular demonstration in high schools - not so to stop the demonstration but rather to explain the risks associated with this and suggestions for steps to prevent these incidents. What do you think? Bob

-----Original Message-----
>From: "Secretary, ACS Division of Chemical Health and Safety" <secretary**At_Symbol_Here**DCHAS.ORG>
>Sent: Jan 4, 2014 9:29 AM
>Subject: [DCHAS-L] CSB statement on High School Laboratory Fire in New York City
>Statement from CSB Chairperson Rafael Moure-Eraso on Yesterday's High School Laboratory Fire in New York City
>I was distressed to learn once again of a serious high school laboratory accident, this one occurring yesterday at a New York City High School. According to media reports, a flash fire occurred during a demonstration in the high school's laboratory resulting in injuries to two 10th grade students, one severely.
>This accident is all too similar to the one we highlighted in a recent video safety message released by the CSB that specifically focused on potential dangers in high school chemistry laboratories. The CSB&rsquo;s safety message entitled "After the Rainbow," features accident survivor Calais Weber in her own words describing how at age 15 she was burned over 40 per cent of her body during a chemistry demonstration performed by her teacher at a prestigious boarding school she attended in Ohio. That accident occurred on January 23, 2006. Our chemical investigation screening process regrettably regularly reports similar accidents.
>Though information at this stage is very preliminary, media reports indicate the accident that occurred yesterday in Manhattan may have been similar to the type of demonstration that critically injured Ms. Weber in that it attempted to show how chemicals react in different ways giving off different colors. . The demonstration in the CSB video showed the use of highly flammable methanol to depict how various mineral salts produce different color flames when burned.
>The CSB believes that accidents in high school laboratories occur with alarming frequency. Yesterday&rsquo;s incident is yet another example of a preventable incident and a reminder of the need for exacting safety measures to protect students and school property. As Calais states in the safety message, her accident should never have occurred, and that with better attention to good safety practices, similar accidents can also be avoided. She says, "It feels with this type of injury that you&rsquo;ve had so much taken away from you unnecessarily and to keep reading about other people who have had very similar experiences, it&rsquo;s tragic and shouldn't happen."

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