From: Lawrence Tirri <larry.tirri**At_Symbol_Here**UNLV.EDU>
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Concern about one of today's incident reports
Date: Wed, 22 Apr 2015 09:13:04 -0700
Reply-To: DCHAS-L <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU>
Message-ID: CAHb3rWs+KUGmowdQ_acPv9WqJ25bZLR04Jb2cFQZdOxF5Otdmw**At_Symbol_Here**

I have to agree that this appears to be an overkill reaction to what we, who know better, would consider a minor spill. However, think about the chemistry courses taken and experience of many chemistry high school teachers. Best case scenario is the teacher has at least an undergraduate degree or a minor in chemistry along with all of the education courses required for license. More often than not, high school chem teachers earn degrees in education with only a few courses in chemistry.

Considering how the curricula for most college chem courses and labs are designed, most chemistry students are not introduced to the concept of hazard assessment. Lab instructors, especially graduate TAs, will more often than not, just review with their lab students the basic hazards of the chemicals with which they will be working during that day's experiment and caution their students to be careful. Most chemistry students will not learn about minor spill response methods at all unless they are a chem major, and then most likely, in their advanced chemistry lab courses. I think that we as chemistry educators need to do a better job by integrating the basic concepts of hazard assessment and response into all of our chemistry lab experiences, beginning with General Chemistry Laboratory. At least this is one way to start the process of educating not only chemistry and other science majors, but students majoring in other disciplines such as education, as well.

It is very likely, as someone else pointed out, that school administrations have a general policy of calling in the experts regardless of the relative hazards and risks associated with a spill. For something minor, this is "overkill". However, without the knowledge and experience to assess the circumstances, it may very well be the only response school faculty and staff could make to protect all building occupants. If you do not know how to respond to an incident, you call in the experts.

Those of us who are chemistry educators can promote change. We can and should work to tweak our curricula and build bridges with our education department colleagues to better prepare our graduates to respond to incidents as reported in today's Chemical Safety Headlines.

In their most recently revised guidelines, The American Chemical Society Committee on Professional Training is asking Chemistry Departments to promote the development of a "Safety Culture" within our degree programs. I think that over the next 5 to 10 years, this will help begin the process to better inform our future chemists and science teachers.

Dr. Larry Tirri

Associate Chair

Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Las Vegas, NV 89154-4003



On Wed, Apr 22, 2015 at 5:23 AM, Funck, Steven <sfunck**At_Symbol_Here**> wrote:

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.


Tags: us_NJ, laboratory, release, response, other_chemical

A student accidentally dropped a beaker of chemicals in a chemistry lab classroom at Manchester High School on Monday afternoon, resulting in the clearing of the science wing while hazmat crews cleaned up the spill, police said.

School administrators called police about 1:20 p.m. to report the spill, which occurred when the student dropped the 500-milliliter beaker on the floor and it shattered, Capt. Todd Malland of the Manchester Police Department said.

The beaker contained manganese (11) sulfate solution, silver nitrate solution 0.2l, lead nitrate solution, nickel sulfate, and cobalt chloride aqueous solution, 2.5 percent, school officials told police.

Police evacuated the science wing while members of the Berkeley Township HazMat Response Team decontaminated the scene, Malland said.

The teacher and five students who were in the room at the time did not report any injuries at the time of the spill, he said.

Steven S. Funck, MS, CSMM

Natural Sciences Laboratory Program Manager

Messiah College

One College Ave.

Suite 3049

Mechanicsburg, PA 17055

Phone: (717) 796-1800 (ext. 2079)

Fax: (717) 691-6046


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