From: David Roberts <droberts**At_Symbol_Here**DEPAUW.EDU>
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Chemical Safety headlines - editorial comment
Date: Wed, 17 Jun 2020 11:29:50 -0400
Reply-To: ACS Division of Chemical Health and Safety <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**Princeton.EDU>
Message-ID: 6C361E18-7D91-4374-8906-F6838B711B4E**At_Symbol_Here**
In-Reply-To <0099c6a0-ab47-83ca-4c5f-c51ae25cfa96**At_Symbol_Here**>

My quick guess reading that is that it was sodium chlorite, but that's from somebody who knows nothing about that process.  Just an easy typo of that sort changes the situation dramatically.

Typo's come on these all the time, they are just from news feeds or whatever, not under the editor's control.  It's up to us to read these and then point out these issues.  Thanks for that


On Jun 17, 2020, at 11:04 AM, Joseph DiVerdi <joseph.diverdi**At_Symbol_Here**ColoState.EDU> wrote:

Editor of DCHAS-L,

I am a new member of the DCHAS and have recently begun to receive correspondence from this Division including the very interesting (!) Headlines, part of which is copied below. I am writing to comment about the editorial policy regarding the review (or not) of articles prior to forwarding them. 

In particular, the reference below reports of a worker being involved "... in an explosion while smashing sodium chloride to spray on longan plants." The identification of the substance in question being "sodium chloride" without further qualification raises the eyebrows of experienced and knowledgeable chemists. 

Sodium chloride is not an impact explosive. 

Perhaps the substance in question was not actually "sodium chloride." Perhaps it was a mixture of several salts, one or more being "energetic." Perhaps the substance was actually "ammonium nitrate", for example, a popular component of fertilizers which, in certain limited cases, can be detonated by impact. Perhaps the original article was written by non-chemistry-knowledgeable staff reporting on similarly non-chemistry-knowledgeable local police who refer colloquially to any whitish powder as "sodium chloride" or as "salt." There are so many possibilities to account for this bit of chemical misinformation which unfortunately has now been propagated into American Chemical Society media without qualification or explanation.

This issue could have very easily been cleared. The inclusion of "sic" <> in the text as in "... in an explosion while smashing sodium chloride [sic] to spray on longan plants." would be sufficient to staunch this path. This however, would require a thoughtful review of the source material (or at least a thorough read) prior to publication. I can appreciate a possible scenario where there are insufficient resources or personnel to perform such a review. In this case which one might then question the benefits and risks of republication without curation and whether such republication is merited at all. 

A very dear friend and colleague of mine has made it a cottage industry to "call out" misinformation that appears in daily posts and re-posts on social media (you know which ones) where is it demonstrably almost trivial to "fact check" egregious claims and expose them for the falsehoods that they truly are. While not a lost art, it seems that we, as a society, could use a good refresher on the tools, methods and importance of rigorous fact checking.

I noted with deep satisfaction on the recent DCHAS-L list comments from some members claiming (exuberantly and enthusiastically!) how important chemistry is to so many spheres of human endeavors. (I am guilty of this to the distraction of my associates and familiars.) It is unfortunate that the place of chemistry is diminished (ever so slightly) by publication of any chemical (mis)information. I really do appreciate this is a small event yet an accumulation of small events can inexorably lead to larger issues and problems. I can be accused of making a mountain out of a molehill and am willing to accept such comments in the quest of increasing chemistry knowledge everywhere and at all times.

I (often) assert that it is incumbent on knowledgeable chemists to lead our society with well-curated and well-articulated technical knowledge to assist its citizens in making informed decisions even in the midst of many difficult choices. I exhort the good members of this Division to lead by example in this important work.

Joseph DiVerdi

On Wed, 17 Jun 2020 5:41 AM, DCHAS Membership Chair wrote:
Chemical Safety Headlines =46rom Google
Wednesday, June 17, 2020 at 7:40:57 AM

  A service of the ACS Division of Chemical Health and Safety
  Connecting Chemistry and Safety at
  All article summaries and tags are archived at

Table of Contents (6 articles)


Tags: Thailand, industrial, explosion, death, dust


Tags: Thailand, industrial, explosion, death, dust

Battambang officials are warning about the dangers of chemical powder after a female worker died on Saturday in an explosion while smashing sodium chloride to spray on longan plants.

Ratanak Mondol district police chief Sorn Nil told The Post on Sunday that the victim, Yean Ya, 30, had been working at the longan farm for just five days and was paid 30,000 riel ($7.50) a day to mix chemical powder to fertilise the plants.

"She took the chemical to put in the tank and smashed it to become powder but then it exploded," he said.

Nil said the incident happened around 1:30pm and when the police went to the scene they found the longan tree broken in two due to the force of the blast.

"The victim was found 3m from the explosion and her body was severed from the waist down and torn to shreds," he said.

The victim had worked doing the same thing in Thailand for 10 years, according to a co-worker and had experience in mixing the chemical.

Police have classified the incident as an accident and will not take any action against the farm's owner.

Ratanak Mondol district governor In Saorith said on Monday that it's important to educate residents about the dangers of chemicals.

"I have also told the department of agriculture in Ratanak Mondol district to educate the farmers on the right way to handle chemicals," he said.


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Joseph A. DiVerdi, PhD, MBA
Associate Professor of Chemistry
Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, USA
+1.970.980.5868 -

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