From: Monona Rossol <actsnyc**At_Symbol_Here**>
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Statement of CSB Chairperson Rafael Moure-Eraso Warning Against Use of Methanol During Laboratory
Date: Mon, 15 Sep 2014 16:17:34 -0400
Reply-To: DCHAS-L <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU>
Message-ID: 8D19F39383136B6-914-48FF**At_Symbol_Here**
In-Reply-To <78A66A5F-DC6C-4CB8-AC30-52693BE5C4BC**At_Symbol_Here**>

Since the initiating accident was in a museum, that's sort of my territory.  So I covered it, quoted some of the statement and then modified it for my folks:
PRECAUTIONS FOR ARTISTS. While the CCS statement is directed to the scientific community, ACTS would extend and modify it to include the following precautions for museums, performance artists, theater special effects people and other non-science uses:
1. Chemical demonstrations for whatever purpose, should not be done in the open with any low flash point solvent such as methanol or acetone.
2. Only people with education and experience in chemistry or a license in pyrotechnics should use chemicals and/or fire in locations where the public is in proximity.
3. Before any chemical demonstration is done, a risk assessment should be written and filed for employees which lists the risks and the precautions to be taken, as OSHA requires, for potentially hazardous workplace activities.
The science community has developed plexi barriers to protect spectators and has found ways to teach the same principles in a chemistry fume hood with smaller amounts of chemicals to reduce chemical waste. Artists and theater effects people also need to use their creativity to find safe ways to meet the their artistic objectives without harming people or the environment.
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: Secretary, ACS Division of Chemical Health and Safety <secretary**At_Symbol_Here**DCHAS.ORG>
Sent: Mon, Sep 15, 2014 3:54 pm
Subject: [DCHAS-L] Statement of CSB Chairperson Rafael Moure-Eraso Warning Against Use of Methanol During Laboratory

Statement of CSB Chairperson Rafael Moure-Eraso Warning Against Use of Methanol  During Laboratory and Classroom Combustion Demonstrations, in the Wake of Reno,  Nevada, Museum Fire   Last week a team of CSB investigators deployed to the Terry Lee Wells Discovery  Museum (The Discovery) in Reno, Nevada, where a flash fire on September 3  injured children and adults viewing a science demonstration. Nine people - eight  of them children - were transported to the hospital for evaluation of burn  injuries, and one child with more serious burns was admitted to the hospital for  treatment.  CSB investigators spent two days interviewing witnesses and museum personnel,  examining the site, and reviewing relevant documents and safety procedures. The  Discovery's leadership and personnel cooperated fully with the investigation and  expressed their desire for positive changes to prevent similar incidents in the  future.  Our investigative team determined that the incident occurred during a "fire  tornado" demonstration where salts of different elements were combusted in a  dish in the presence of alcohol-soaked cotton balls, while spinning on a lazy  Susan-type rotating tray. This produces a tornado-like colored flame that rises  in the air. The incident happened during a version where boric acid was to be  burned in the presence of a methanol-soaked cotton ball. When the cotton failed  to ignite it was realized that it had not been adequately wetted with methanol.  More methanol was added to the cotton from a four-liter (one gallon) plastic  bottle. Unknown to personnel, the cotton ball was likely continuing to smolder,  and it ignited the freshly added methanol and flashed back to the bottle.  Burning methanol then sprayed from the bottle toward the nearby audience of  adults and children visiting the museum.  This unfortunate incident is similar to a number of others that have occurred  around the country during lab or classroom demonstrations where methanol has  been used as a fuel for combustion. In 2006, high school student Calais Weber  was severely burned, and others were injured, at an Ohio high school during a  similar demonstration of a chemical "rainbow" that involved combusting salts  with methanol. Calais' burns were so serious she had to be placed in a medically  induced coma and required multiple skin grafts. Calais' ongoing ordeal was  described in a poignant video we released in December 2013, called "After the  Rainbow.   In 2012, more students and a teacher were burned, and some were hospitalized, in  a methanol-based experiment at a middle school in Liverpool, New York. Then in  2014, a high school student was severely burned by a methanol fire during  another rainbow experiment gone awry. And there are many other examples.  Methanol is an essential chemical and an emerging energy resource with a  multitude of important industrial and environmental uses. But in the cautionary  words of Greg Dolan, CEO of the Methanol Institute, which represents the  manufacturing community, "Like gasoline, methanol is a toxic and flammable  chemical and should only be handled in appropriate settings, and that would  certainly not include museums and classrooms."  Methanol readily emits heavier-than-air flammable vapors and the liquid has a  low flash point, meaning it can ignite at room temperature in the presence of an  ignition source. This creates an unacceptable risk of flash fire whenever any  appreciable quantities of methanol are handled in the open lab or classroom in  the presence of pervasive ignition sources, such as open flames, heat sources,  or sparks. There is also a significant risk of flashback to any nearby methanol  bulk container, as was the case in this last incident in Reno, Nevada.  Similar concerns have been raised by the Committee on Chemical Safety of the  American Chemical Society, which this year called on schools and teachers to  immediately end all "rainbow" demonstrations involving methanol or other  flammable solvents on open benches.   In the words of ACS safety experts, "The 'Rainbow' demonstration performed on an  open bench using a flammable solvent is a high risk operation." There are  well-known safer alternatives to the rainbow demonstration where no methanol is  used, only wooden sticks soaked in chemical salts dissolved in water.  The recent incidents of methanol fires in schools are just one example of what  can happen when lab demonstrations are adopted and used - with the best of  educational intentions - but without a thorough review of the hazards and the  development of robust safety procedures.  Today I am calling on all schools, museums, and science educators to discontinue  any use of bulk methanol - or other similar flammables - in lab demonstrations  that involve combustion, open flames, or ignition sources. There are safer  alternative ways to demonstrate the same scientific phenomena, and many teachers  are already using them. Any use of methanol or other flammables should be either  avoided completely or restricted to minimal amounts, which have been safely  dispensed at remote locations. Bulk containers of flammable liquids must never  be positioned or handled near viewing audiences, especially when there are  potential ignition sources present.  As scientists and engineers, we share in the enjoyment of both teachers and  students in creating and watching chemical demonstrations. However, safety must  be the absolute priority in all such endeavors. We have seen too many kids and  adults suffer tragic injuries to do otherwise. 

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