I would be opposed to any ban of methanol, in the classroom and for any chemical demonstrations. As pointed out, by others, the problem is not methanol, but lack of proper training for demonstrators.
In the 1980's and early 1990's, there were demonstration programs for teachers through ICE, Hope College, and Dreyfus. We taught safety along with demonstrations and proper techniques. Unfortunately, there are no national programs that teach demonstrations at the present time and teaching proper demonstrations techniques is not part of a college curriculum.
These days, many teachers get their demonstrations from conferences such as ChemEd, BCCE, ICCE, and NSTA. While most demonstrators, are responsible and observe safety, some do not. There are a lot of less responsible demonstrators on YouTube. When directions for these demos are distributed, they may address chemical safety, but do not address safety in setting up and performing these demos.
While ACS CHED, Flinn Scientific, and CCS has a list of safety guidelines, they do not address many of the safe practices necessary for demonstrations. Only Flinn has produced some safety videos for demonstrations.
Without going into a long dissertation, here, one of the most important practices is proper preparation using premeasured quantities of materials in small containers rather than pouring reagents, such as methanol, from large containers. Should the demonstration not work, or end prematurely, the demonstrator must insure that there is no active heat, flames or reaction, then move it out of the way and start over with fresh materials and apparatus. Trying to prolong a demonstration is, as we have observed from these accidents, a prescription for disaster.
In my opinion, probably the best organization to address safety practices is Jim Kaufman's Laboratory Safety Institute. In addition to his regular instructors, Jim employs a number of high school teachers and demonstrators. He gives workshops at many schools and teacher conferences which would reach the intended audiences.
----- Original Message -----From: NEAL LANGERMANSent: Sunday, November 1, 2015 6:47 AMSubject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Chemistry classroom fire injures 6
Our job is to call attention provide a safe alternative for this one, and state that science teachers need more sound education in the sciences and how to do demos; let's stay away from policy issues - banning MeOH or anything else. ACS/CCS has a list of chemicals strongly suggested do not belong in the classroom
I'm already rolling on that. I started work last night to get a group of people together who would be the go-to folks for the segment to comment on camera, outline the issue/history of it, etc. Basically prepackaging all the background footwork done that someone would need to do *exactly* that. I possibly have a media contact or two through some other channels. Anyone who wants to help compile the case histories etc. should contact me off list.
It is quite clear that we can't solve the issue our normal way - it is going to take some media attention so that administrators and parents push it. A limited email I sent out last night for initial feelers was titled "Let's get to the end of this rainbow once and for all". It makes a great story; I can imagine the tag lines now "invisible danger in the classroom", "your child at risk" etc.
The only question is the scope/scale. We obviously need to address all methanol/flame demos, but do we move beyond what has already been called for and go for an outright ban on using methanol etc.
On Oct 31, 2015, at 1:04 PM, Laurence Doemeny <ldoemeny**At_Symbol_Here**COX.NET> wrote:
While training is helpful the real need is getting the information about the hazard to the teachers and administrators. Apparently some instructors don't know there is a problem.
My suggestion is for the ACS and teacher organizations to jointly contact local and national news media to have a segment on the dangers of some of these demonstrations and how to perform them safely. That should get parent and school administrators attention. This would make a nice PBS Frontline or 60 Minutes segment.
The Chemical Safety Board makes outstanding videos and excellent reports but their reach appears limited.
This continues to beg for training for demonstrators...
I just showed the CSB video to our preteachers this week!
On 10/30/2015 4:00 PM, Harry J. Elston wrote:
Bang Head Here ---> (Rainbow Experiment)
On Fri, Oct 30, 2015 at 2:13 PM, Jyllian Kemsley <jyllian.kemsley**At_Symbol_Here**gmail.com> wrote:
"She was demonstrating the experiment ... with the different elements causing the fire to change color, and as the fire was dying down she added more alcohol"
On Fri, Oct 30, 2015 at 9:25 AM, ILPI Support <info**At_Symbol_Here**ilpi.com> wrote:
Figured this one couldn't wait for Monday's headlines:
Two are in serious condition (presumably with burns). No chemistry details yet. I think we all have a good guess at what was involved based on unfortunate past experiences, but let's sit tight until there is confirmation.
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