The Chemical Safety Board has released recommendations for classroom demonstrations involving flammable/hazardous materials:
- The press release
- The detailed safety bulletin (don't miss the stills of the methanol jug catching on fire)
- Calls for safety reviews, PPE for participants, no bulk containers of MeOH near flames when smaller amounts will do.
Calais Weber is the student injured in a fire a few years back; her story was covered in their video (and covered on this blog.) She had a statement this morning at the CSB press conference (emphasis mine):
While I am now a premed student and have a better understanding of the dangers of methanol from a scientific perspective than I did at fifteen, I think the most valuable thing I can add to the discussion around lab safety is my perspective as a student.
My chemistry teacher did not intend to injure me or others, just as other teachers who have made the same mistake would never intentionally hurt their students. But she did, and they have. It's easy to say that they were simply being careless and that a more careful teacher would not have made those same mistakes, but I think the real issue is lack of training and knowledge. My teacher was not only unaware of what would happen when she poured a gallon of methanol directly onto and near multiple open flames, but she had no idea how to handle the situation when several of her students were on fire - including her own son.
It is my belief that until there exists a standard, mandatory protocol for training all science teachers, there is no reason for methanol to be used in classrooms. My education and love for chemistry was not fostered by seeing a demonstration in person, and it would not have been hindered by simply watching a video of it being performed in a controlled setting by trained chemists. All I hope for is to stop other children from being severely injured - I came very close to dying from my injuries, and my greatest fear is that, eventually, there will be a child that won't be as lucky as I was to have survived.More later.