>Does this strike anyone else that this was overkill? I am all for caution and safety, but I am afraid we are not promoting either if every spill results in a full blown evacuation and HZMAT incident.
To add some context to this question, and in follow up to an off-line question from someone on the list, I did some quick work with the public data that ASTDR released last week. You may remember that the ASTDR reported that the educational industry was one of the top 5 sectors for chemical incidents.
Based on the data in the infographic at
http://cen.acs.org/articles/93/i16/Accident-Analysis.html , the number of evacuees per incident in the educational sector is almost 400; the next highest is 250 for chemical manufacturers. So although educational hazmat events have lower injury rates than chem manufacturers (although not gigantically lower: 7.6 people injured per incident in chemical manufacturing and 6.5 in education), events in education affect a lot more people. This makes sense based on the perceived vulnerability of the population.
Based on an educated guess by looking at the chemicals involved, it appears that 50% of the events report in the educational sector are related to laboratory chemicals and 20% to facility chemicals. The remaining 30% are mercury, which could come from any of three sources: 1) lab work, 2) facility equipment (e.g. mercury switches) or 3) a student bringing it in to share with their friends. I suspect the third is the most common.
I would note that the ASTDR data reports about 9 events per week in the educational sector (extrapolating from the states reporting in their survey to the country as a whole), which is more than I generally see in scanning google headlines (about 5/week, including global events), so they may have more access to data than is reported in the press.
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