Wednesday, May 16, 2018

17 students, 1 teacher burned in ethanol-boric acid flash fire in Nashville

From a variety of sources, including the ACS DCHAS listserv, an incident at Merrol Hyde Magnet High School in Hendersonville, TN (article by NewsChannel5): 
HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn. - A hazmat situation injured multiple people at Merrol Hyde Magnet High School in Hendersonville. 
An official said at least 17 students and one teacher were triaged at the scene Wednesday morning, and multiple patients were taken to area hospitals. 
Six students were treated at Tristar Hendersonville Medical Center, while five students were taken to Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt. 
The teacher was reportedly treated and released from Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Reports from school officials said the educator involved was a first-year chemistry teacher.
I find it grimly amusing that this article (and a number of others, including Nashville's The Tennessean) seem to believe that flames spontaneously result from the mixture of ethyl alcohol and boric acid (which was used in this case.) I don't think that's true - I think you need to light it on fire, which is probably what happened here.

Yet another incident where there was a combination of:
  • fire
  • alcohol 
  • students being too close
that has caused injuries and teachers getting fired and lawsuits being filed in this country time and time again.

Another reminder that the American Chemical Society's Committee on Chemical Safety specifically asks teachers to discontinue the traditional Rainbow Demonstration and use the safer Flame Test.

1 comment:

  1. "People change when the pain of change is less than the pain of staying the same"(TM) It hasn't been painful enough for administrators and science educators to change yet.