|The syringe, after the incident. Credit: UCLA/The Safety Zone|
Scale-up + nasty reagents + enthusiasm + work done in hurry + poor technique is how typically lab accidents happen. I think a limited previous research experience is more dangerous than having no experience: it lends false self-confidence. (I had many close calls in the lab, often working alone)
In retrospect, someone should have looked over Ms. Sangji and warn her that giant syringes are terrible for air-free work and that a much better choice is using a graduated addition funnel with a septa and a canula transfer under positive pressure.Anon122820111028p adds:
I, too, use plastics with Li reagents...but these plastics we are using have a luer lock... Unfortunately, those giant 60 mL syringes 1) are not luer lock, and 2) effing difficult to control the plunger. I HATE using them. Cannula is the way to go if you are going to transfer that much of a reagent.I've been wanting to illustrate the problem with large syringe instability for quite some time; that the Sangji case is back in the news is a good time to bring it up. I took a NEW syringe home, pulled the syringe past the ridge that keeps the plunger in (which we've all done to get a little more into the syringe, although hopefully not with pyrophorics) and asked a young child that I know to tap the plunger. You can see the results below:
For large transfers of liquid in the lab, you're much, much, much better off using a cannula transfer. Young chemists (and old!), learn the lesson of Sheri Sangji and take note.