From: "Nguyen, Patty" <Patty.Nguyen**At_Symbol_Here**UCSF.EDU>
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Chemical Safety headlines from Google (13 articles)
Date: Fri, 6 Feb 2015 18:37:29 +0000
Reply-To: DCHAS-L <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU>
Message-ID: EDD534E34FC4AC488395F62A65BA4E0536BF08C7**At_Symbol_Here**
In-Reply-To <00a301d04233$e4302470$ac906d50$**At_Symbol_Here**>

Along with Ben's statement, from the CDC:

Methyl mercaptan is a colorless flammable gas with unpleasant odor described as
rotten cabbage. It is easily ignited...Vapors from liquified methyl mercaptan gas are
heavier than air and may collect in low-lying areas. Olfactory fatigue may prevent
adequate warning of hazardous concentrations.

From, the cause of death was due to asphyxiation (from the lack of oxygen) since mercaptan is heavier than air. The workers were not supplied with proper respiratory protection.

Maintenance work was ongoing the day of the accident, without supplied air. (Houston Chronicle)

Engineering control was an issue, but also PPE as well.

Patty Nguyen

-----Original Message-----
From: DCHAS-L Discussion List [mailto:dchas-l**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU] On Behalf Of Ben Ruekberg
Sent: Friday, February 06, 2015 9:40 AM
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Chemical Safety headlines from Google (13 articles)

Sufficient concentration of the highly stinky gas, hydrogen sulfide, will knock out one's sense of smell. Is it possible that the same applied to its methyl analog?

Ben Ruekberg

-----Original Message-----
From: DCHAS-L Discussion List [mailto:dchas-l**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU] On Behalf Of Edward Movitz
Sent: Friday, February 06, 2015 11:57 AM
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Chemical Safety headlines from Google (13 articles)

The initial statement about the amount of Mercaptan let loose and undetected is also at odds with common sense :

"Chemical manufacturer DuPont has reported that about 23,000 pounds of a flammable toxic chemical escaped in the building where four of its workers died two weeks ago at a Houston-area plant.

DuPont disclosed in a news release the quantity of the methyl mercaptan that led to the deaths Nov. 15."


Edward M. Movitz
Health & Safety Officer / FSO

The University of Mississippi

Department of Health and Safety

100 Health and Safety Building

P.O. Box 1848

University, MS 38677-1848


O:+1-662-915-5433 | F: 662-915-5480

movitz**At_Symbol_Here** | | Health & Safety Web Site

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From: DCHAS-L Discussion List [dchas-l**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU] on behalf of Debbie M. Decker [dmdecker**At_Symbol_Here**UCDAVIS.EDU]
Sent: Friday, February 06, 2015 10:35 AM
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Chemical Safety headlines from Google (13 articles)

Did anyone else find this tidbit odd? How could there be methyl mercaptan vapor build up and no one notice it? Around here, someone takes the sealed jar out of the dessicator to take to the fume hood and there's howling up and down the hall from the smell.

Debbie M. Decker, CCHO, ACS Fellow
Chair, Division of Chemical Health and Safety University of California, Davis

Birkett's hypothesis: "Any chemical reaction that proceeds smoothly under normal conditions, can proceed violently in the presence of an idiot."


Tags: us_TX, industrial, follow-up, death, other_chemical

HOUSTON -- It was DuPont's third deadly U.S. accident in five years and the deadliest of them all. On November 15th, a chemical leak in LaPorte took the lives of four workers, including two brothers.

They were inside a building that manufactured insecticides.

Federal investigators have now claimed there were problems both with the building and with how things were done there.

"What we are seeing here in this incident in LaPorte is definitely a problem of safety culture in the corporation of DuPont," said Rafael Moure-Eraso, Chairman of the U.S. Chemical Safety Board.

After months of investigating, the independent agency found a ventilation system had been broken that allowed a harmful chemical called methyl mercaptan to build up without anyone knowing it.


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