Tuesday, November 29, 2016

ACS Publications will have a safety requirement in 2017

From a worthwhile editorial in ACS Central Science by Professor Carolyn Bertozzi on lab safety, a policy change that I was not aware of (emphasis mine):  
ACS also hopes to contribute to safety awareness beyond our campus walls through its publishing activities. Starting at the beginning of 2017, all ACS publications will require experimental details to address and emphasize any unexpected, new, and/or significant hazards or risks associated with the reported work. There are two different important aims in asking for this additional information. First, as the primary source of chemical information, it is crucial that we use the literature to educate researchers about the risks inherent in the experiments we publish. Second, we hope that making this information required and widely available will change how this and future generations of scientists think about safety as integral to their role in the chemical enterprise. It is a professional requirement and a chemist’s responsibility in this world.  
Just as experimental details are turned into lab notebook entries for future findings, the community will then implement these better habits in their own papers and continue to catalyze the responsibility for safety throughout our industry. Finally, we do not want the most crucial of these safety notes to be sequestered only in the experimental sections. Particularly when unanticipated hazards or risks become apparent in the process of scientific inquiry, either in data acquisition or analysis, we want authors to highlight that information in results and discussion sections, perhaps even in the abstract.
Seems like a good idea. Readers, what do you think?

(Can anyone come up with a good way to measure any potential impact?)  

This part of the essay is particularly effective: 
Matt Francis, orchestrator of those brilliant turkey banquets from my intro, both talks the talk and walks the walk. Every year, he held a legendary hands-on training session for new students showing them proper Schlenk line technique. This is the kind of activity that most of us delegate to postdocs or senior students but perhaps shouldn’t in light of what happened at UCLA. Matt’s effort to ensure that students know how to safely manipulate air- and/or moisture-sensitive, often flammable reagents under vacuum may have spared them from countless accidents and injuries.
This kind of hands-on training from a senior PI is invaluable.


  1. So check out the Experimental in the Supporting Information of this Communication in the very first JACS issue of 2017: J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2017, 139 (1), 19; http://pubs.acs.org/doi/full/10.1021/jacs.6b09889

    The first two procedures describe the prepn of trinitroaniline (TNA) and triaminotrinitrobenzene (TATB). No hazard warnings whatsoever, not even a peep.

  2. Yeah but it clearly states that paper was submitted September 20, 2016. I'm going to guess that it's everything submitted starting 2017 otherwise it would be difficult to tell someone submitting a paper in September that depending on how long their revisions take, and the backlog for publication, they may need to add another section.

    1. For a long time the ACS and JACS have had a policy that hazards are to be identified in a manuscript. The authors are supposed to include it (https://pubs.acs.org/userimages/ContentEditor/1218054468605/ethics.pdf #5 on page 3) and the reviewers are supposed to ensure it is done (http://pubs.acs.org/page/jacsat/submission/reviewers.html).

    2. If your work requires a pretty well-known explosive as an intermediate (even if it's not really sensitive), a safety note would not seem out of place, whether or not there is an explicit policy for such.

  3. Interesting. We had an org lett recently where the reviewers asked for more detailed safety documentation in the experimental part, rightfully so in retrospect.


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