> >What better place to teach chemical safety and how to handle exothermic reactions than in a highly-supervised classroom with limited quantities and good containment?... I would encourage you not to miss a great opportunity to teach safety to the next generation.
I have two concerns with these sentiments.
1) As I recall, the first step in hazard control for safer chemistry is to identify substitutions for hazardous chemicals and/or processes that can lessen the hazard. The original question is an excellent example of taking that step. In terms of safety education, this step can be enhanced by informing students about alternate lab processes and why they are not being used.
2) Also there are a lot of assumptions in "highly-supervised classroom with limited quantities and good containment". An organic chemistry lab class of 16 or so is a difficult place to provide effective oversight of people who are new to both the science and the lab skills being used. At Keene State, most chemistry majors participate in hands-on research experiences that are closely supervised by faculty. This seems like a better place to learn how to handle exothermic reactions than in a group setting.
In sum, the idea that the risk decisions made 90 years ago should not be reconsidered today seems to me to be the opposite of a 21st century safety education.
Ralph Stuart, CIH, CCHO
Environmental Safety Manager
Keene State College
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