Pyrophoric Chemicals


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Overview of the hazards of pyrophoric chemicals and recent events in followup to the UCLA tragedy

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Pyrophoric Chemicals

  1. 1. Pyrophoric and air/water sensitive chemical hazards<br />Neal Langerman<br />Advanced Chemical Safety<br />San Diego, CA<br />
  2. 2. NATURE OF PROBLEM<br />Safely handling highly reactive chemicals in a dynamic, competitive research environment<br />(Apparent) increased use of pyrophoric and reactive chemicals in synthetic chemistry research<br />Increased awareness of chemical safety at the institutional level<br />Increased information sharing about incidents<br />No method to determine if incidents (number or severity) has changed over time<br />Reactive Safety<br />Advanced Chemical Safety<br /><br /><br />Air/Water/Pyrophoric Chemicals<br />
  3. 3. Page 3<br />Chemical Reactivity Hazards<br />Air/Water/Pyrophoric Chemicals<br />Silane release<br />Cylinder in a gas cabinet<br />Apparatus in open lab area<br />Student adjusting apparatus initiated release<br />Minor injuries<br />Loss of lab<br />
  4. 4. Air/Water/Pyrophoric Chemicals<br />Thermal reflux/distillation<br />Sodium metal<br />THF <br />Student adjusted jammed overhead stirrer while system was hot<br />Round-bottom cracked, releasing contents into hood<br />Student burned<br />Lab destroyed<br />Building closed to 7 days<br />4 EH&S “terminated” over next months<br />
  5. 5. Air/Water/Pyrophoric ChemicalsC&EN 22 Jan 2009<br />Researcher Dies After Lab Fire<br />UCLA research assistant burned in incident with tert-butyl lithium<br />Pyrophoric liquid<br />Working alone during shutdown<br />Chemical Reactivity Hazards<br /> Page 5<br />
  6. 6. Air/Water/Pyrophoric Chemicalstert-Butyl Lithium<br />A 23 year old female research associate/laboratory technician intended to add an (unknown) aliquot of 1.6 M t-Bu-Li (in pentane) to a round bottom flask, placed in a dry ice/acetone bath. <br />She had been employed in the lab for about 3 months. <br />Limited experience with pyrophors<br />Attempted to transfer 160 mL with successive aliqouts in a 50 mL plastic syringe<br />Somehow, the syringe plunger popped out or was pulled out of the syringe barrel, splashing the employee with t-Bu-Li and pentane. <br />Ignited 4 L bottle of hexane in hood<br />The mixture caught fire, upon contact with air. <br />She was wearing Nitrile gloves, safety glasses and synthetic sweater. She was not wearing a lab coat. <br />The fire ignited the gloves and the sweater.<br />Chemical Reactivity Hazards<br /> Page 6<br />
  7. 7. Air/Water/Pyrophoric ChemicalsMost authoritative report<br />Jyllian Kemsley, Ph.D., C&EN Reporter<br /><br />Chemical Reactivity Hazards<br /> Page 7<br />
  8. 8. UCLA Update<br />12 March 2010<br />CAL/OSHA cites campus for failure to report 2007 injury to TA (employee)/Grad Student in Chemistry & Biochemistry<br />CAL/OSHA cites campus for ongoing violations following the 2009 fatality<br />Campus announces its intention to contest the citations<br />Advanced Chemical Safety<br /><br /><br />Air/Water/Pyrophoric Chemicals<br />Reactive Safety<br />
  9. 9. UCLA Update 17 March 2010<br />2007 Lab Fire<br />Biochem grad student seriously burned when alcohol spill ignited by Bunsen burner<br />7 days in hospital<br />Student was paid UCLA employee<br />Chemical Reactivity Hazards<br /> Page 9<br />
  10. 10. UCLA Update 17 March 2010<br />Citations<br />Failure to report injury<br />Failure to correct unsafe working conditions<br />Flammable liquid and open flame<br />Inadequate PPE <br />No lab coat, insufficient clothing <br />Proposed fine: $29,300<br />Chemical Reactivity Hazards<br /> Page 10<br />
  11. 11. UCLA Update 17 March 2010<br />Follow-up inspection of Chemistry & Biochemistry<br />Prompted by complaints from (unionized) university employees<br />UCLA plans to contest both sets of citations<br />Chemical Reactivity Hazards<br /> Page 11<br />
  12. 12. UCLA Update 17 March 2010<br />Chemical Reactivity Hazards<br /> Page 12<br />
  13. 13. During the past ten days:<br />UCSD terminated the campus CHO<br />Allegedly due to budget constraints<br />The UCSD Director of EHS resigned on very short notice<br />Reportedly is taking a position at Ann Arbor<br />Money is “found” to re-hire the CHO<br />No relationship to UCLA has been established<br />UCSD Update<br />Advanced Chemical Safety<br /><br /><br />Topic (from title page)<br />
  14. 14. Advanced Chemical Safety<br /><br /><br />Common sense is not common<br />Air/Water/Pyrophoric Chemicals<br />The incident<br />Sodium was used in an organic synthesis reaction<br />Knife used to cut Sodium was rinsed in a regular sink with Methanol<br />Piece of Sodium hit water in sink, igniting the Methanol<br />Fire spread to 20 liter poly bottle of Acetone on shelf above sink<br />Bottle burst<br />
  15. 15. Advanced Chemical Safety<br /><br /><br />Common sense is not common<br />Air/Water/Pyrophoric Chemicals<br />The incident, continued<br />A burning pool of acetone spread over lab<br />Excess quantities of solvents ignited<br />Two labs totaled<br />Major flooding & smoke damage<br />$750,000 property loss<br />No injuries<br />Same incident occurred 10 years later at another major research center<br />
  16. 16. MANY CAUSES:SOME COMMON THEMES<br />Insufficient training/Insufficient supervision<br />Intense time/productivity pressure<br />Safety institutionalized/Safety not functional at the lab level<br />Academic culture rewards productivity with no attention to safety<br />Safety must be given the same priority in academic culture given to publications and funding<br />Reactive Safety<br />Advanced Chemical Safety<br /><br /><br />Air/Water/Pyrophoric Chemicals<br />
  17. 17. What must be done?<br />EHS –<br />Shift responsibility for safety to PI’s<br />Make it very clear that EH&S are consultants, not the “Safety Cops”<br />Change the culture by shifting responsibility<br />Get Provost-level support<br />CAMPUS<br />Include “safety performance” in PI evaluation<br />Teaching<br />Grants & Funding<br />Lab Space<br />Tenure<br />Reactive Safety<br />Advanced Chemical Safety<br /><br /><br />Air/Water/Pyrophoric Chemicals<br />
  18. 18. What must be done?<br />National<br />Give CSB Funding/Authority to investigate laboratory-scale incidents<br />Place “Safety Performance” at an equal level of importance as research performance<br />Reactive Safety<br />Advanced Chemical Safety<br /><br /><br />Air/Water/Pyrophoric Chemicals<br />
  19. 19. What must be done?<br />The Chemical Safety Community<br />Define “Safety Performance”<br />Lead rather than push<br />And before ending …<br />Reactive Safety<br />Advanced Chemical Safety<br /><br /><br />Air/Water/Pyrophoric Chemicals<br />
  20. 20. Questions - Comments<br />Reactive Safety<br />Advanced Chemical Safety<br /><br /><br />Air/Water/Pyrophoric Chemicals<br />