From: Monona Rossol <0000030664c37427-dmarc-request**At_Symbol_Here**LISTS.PRINCETON.EDU>
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Chemical Safety headlines (7 articles)
Date: Wed, 21 Mar 2018 09:14:11 -0400
Reply-To: ACS Division of Chemical Health and Safety <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**PRINCETON.EDU>
CHEMICAL REACTION IN LAB RESULTS IN MAJOR EVACUATION IN NEW HAVEN
Tags: us_TX, industrial, explosion, injury, metals, toxics
Roughly 1,000 people were evacuated from their downtown New Haven businesses Tuesday morning following the report of a strong smell of gas.
Workers inside 300 George Street, which houses employees from both Yale University and Yale-New Haven Hospital, said the smell was unmistakable
"As we walked down the stairwells the smell of the gas got really strong," said Dave Batza. "From the fifth floor, all the way down the stairs and out outside, it was a strong smell."
However, even with metering, neither Southern Connecticut Gas nor the New Haven Fire Department could find a source.
"We blocked off the area, stopped road traffic and evacuated the buildings that were affected," said Assistant Chief Mark Vendetto of the New Haven Fire Department.
In addition to 300 George Street, the Alexion Pharmaceuticals building, right next-door, at 100 College Street, was also evacuated for a couple of hours. Finally, after several hours, the smell was determined to be coming from a third-floor laboratory.
"There's absolutely no reason to be fearful," said Vendetto. "There's no harm to the public at this time or anybody that was in the building. What was being used was in small amounts. These buildings are designed for that. The room is under negative pressure."
"At this point, we are working with the chemists on site to determine what chemicals they were using and then the resultant by products of that reaction," said Jeff Chandler of the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection.
While CDEP is checking into the identity of the chemicals, THAT IS NOT what they should be concentrating on.. It is how it got out of this "negative pressure" room that is the biggie. And this incident makes it easier.
This incident is the ideal ventilation test. The chemical, probably a mercaptan or similar, clearly has an exceedingly low odor threshold. But it's detection by smell throughout whole buildings in the area is irrefutable evidence that stuff gets out of this "negative pressure" lab.
Everyone who smelled this odor should clearly understand that all of the chemicals used in that lab for the entire time this lab's current ventilation system has been in place have probably been in small amounts in the air they breathed over the years. They may not have been detected by odor, but they were there.
And before some savvy person points out that a storm was coming in and the weather may have drafted the stack emissions downward and into those buildings, I don't think it is reasonable to expect people to accept breathing laboratory chemicals every time the weather changes either.
I'd put my money on the cause being a stack that doesn't get up into moving air space above the building because some yahoo during the planning put his/her concept of beauty above the principles of ventilation or the building is Landmarked. And that means essentially EVERYTHING that goes up the stack of those hoods ends up dispersed throughout the area around the laboratory facility and is picked up by the air-intakes for buildings around it. In fact, being delivered to the building's air intakes is the only way this marker gas could have been detected all throughout those other buildings.
The people who smelled this stuff on the job should resent any spokesperson talking about "small amounts," "no harm" or "negative pressure." The fact is this "test" clearly shows that everything being used in that lab either has, or has had the potential, to make it into the neighborhood.
So test the system, but ultimately they'll have to go the roof and either replace the stack with a much taller one or install an air jet stack. And (were it not illegal) the ideal new stack test would be to hurl a little more mercaptan in the hoods.
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
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