From: "Stuart, Ralph" <Ralph.Stuart**At_Symbol_Here**KEENE.EDU>
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] C&EN: Thoughts on Kate the Chemist's "The Big Book of Experiments"?
Date: Sat, 3 Oct 2020 19:38:17 +0000
Reply-To: ACS Division of Chemical Health and Safety <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**Princeton.EDU>
Message-ID: 0E753A95-5BF2-43F8-93C9-E30D8FA79D95**At_Symbol_Here**
In-Reply-To <54f11122ff7f4dc8a2b3570815697698**At_Symbol_Here**>

> Has anyone looked at the book and, if so, do you have any safety concerns? I‰??d expect that the publisher would have vetted it, but I also know that Kate goes for big drama in television appearances.
Thanks for asking an important question. We have been struggling with this question on the Committee on Chemical Safety for a while. In the process, we have identified a variety of perspectives from which it can be addressed:
- Are we concerned about foreseeable safety concerns arising during the demonstrations as described in the book (this is likely to be the extent of the vetting by the publisher);
- Is the concern that children freelancing based on ideas in the book that have serious accidents (examples of these types of incidents are easy to find on Youtube);
- or is it with reinforcing the idea that chemistry is about creating uncontrolled releases of energy and matter as the author demonstrates in the video you referenced?

My concern with the last category is that the ‰??exocharmic‰?? nature of these demonstrations is that most of planning and safety precautions that allow these demonstrations to be performed without incident are hidden from the audience. The comments on Amazon about the book suggest that this concern also arises for some of the people who bought this book (e.g. the comments that dry ice and other non-household chemicals are necessary for many of the demonstrations).

So I guess to answer your question, I expect to always find safety concerns with a collection of chemical procedures that suggest that they are for "all ages and interest levels‰??. The recent ACS Chemical Health & Safety editorial "Let‰??s Disagree about Safety" at
describes the problems this approach to chemistry education can present.

- Ralph

Ralph Stuart, CIH, CCHO
Environmental Safety Manager
Keene State College
603 358-2859


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