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(SeattlePI)   UW lab worker rushed to hospital after "bottom fell out" of container holding over two liters of hydrochloric acid solution. Nobody said science would be easy   (blog.seattlepi.com) divider line 213
    More: Scary, hydrochloric acid, University of Washington, Seattle Fire Department, UW lab, decontamination, oil spills, corrosive, containers  
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9645 clicks; posted to Main » on 27 Sep 2013 at 9:16 PM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2013-09-28 12:23:35 AM  

Felgraf: Probably. I know at least one reaction a collaborator was doing wasn't working. They contacted the researcher.
"Oh! The entire reaction has to be done under nitrogen." "... At no point does your paper even suggest this." "Well, yeah, it's implied in the field we published in!" (And that collaborator *was* a chemist...)


That field sucks.  I'm an inorganic chemist, and every paper in my field has a sentence at the beginning of the experimental saying "All reactions were done under air-free conditions unless otherwise indicated."  Because anal-retentive pedantry is what science is all about.
 
2013-09-28 12:27:14 AM  

cuzsis: Well...don't leave us hanging! What was it?


Not a chemist, but if I recall, many cyanide compounds have the smell of freshly cut grass. (as it turns out, there's cyanide in your grass)
 
2013-09-28 12:27:27 AM  
My CSB time:

I work at a major aerospace manufacturer that uses full immersion chem lines that feature, among others, hydrochloric and hydroflouric acids.  I was fortunate to never witness one, but I understand that a fissure in a tank line or a spill can produce a colorful cloud-o-death.  My father-in-law that's been a manufacturing engineer there for some 30 years told me he once saw a man who didn't evacuate quickly enough and was exposed to a cloud from an acid spill.  He said the guy started down the stairs, collapsed, and fell the remaining steps.  When they were finally able to get to him, the dude was basically goo; like all the bones had been removed from his body.

/So glad I no longer work in a building with a chem line, never felt comfortable working around them.
 
2013-09-28 12:30:11 AM  
Since we have all the chem nerds here, any HPLC (SEC, RP), LC-MS guys around?  Could use someone to turn to for method development help.
 
2013-09-28 12:43:00 AM  
i've handled kryptonite.

it hurts.
 
2013-09-28 12:43:19 AM  

cuzsis: Well...don't leave us hanging! What was it

 Smells like new-mown hay?  You accidentally sarin.
 
2013-09-28 12:49:42 AM  

Peki: I hate the Big Bang Theory, and everyone I know who is actually a geek does.


This

Hell, Bones has better 'geek' humor and Futurama is built on it
images3.wikia.nocookie.net
If you're old enough, this one is hilarious
 
2013-09-28 12:52:56 AM  

WraithSama: My CSB time:

I work at a major aerospace manufacturer that uses full immersion chem lines that feature, among others, hydrochloric and hydroflouric acids.  I was fortunate to never witness one, but I understand that a fissure in a tank line or a spill can produce a colorful cloud-o-death.  My father-in-law that's been a manufacturing engineer there for some 30 years told me he once saw a man who didn't evacuate quickly enough and was exposed to a cloud from an acid spill.  He said the guy started down the stairs, collapsed, and fell the remaining steps.  When they were finally able to get to him, the dude was basically goo; like all the bones had been removed from his body.

/So glad I no longer work in a building with a chem line, never felt comfortable working around them.


I worked in a chemical factory that made products for perfume.  You had to wear respirators constanly because they told me, "The moment you can smell it, you're a dead man."  I work there no more, thankfully.
 
2013-09-28 12:55:12 AM  

basemetal: [www.thomassci.com image 500x500]


farking this.  What an idiot.
 
2013-09-28 12:57:30 AM  
lol

i don't normally watch network television but some family encouraged me to watch it.

i immediately pointed out that sheldon was gay, not geeky.

(not that there's anything wrong with that)

they didn't understand.

they do now, five or six years later.

BUT, i enjoy the show,
 
2013-09-28 01:00:04 AM  
Came for Things I Won't Work With, leaving happy.
 
2013-09-28 01:00:44 AM  

Brainsick: Peki: I hate the Big Bang Theory, and everyone I know who is actually a geek does.

This

Hell, Bones has better 'geek' humor and Futurama is built on it
[images3.wikia.nocookie.net image 203x339]
If you're old enough, this one is hilarious


I lol'd. (And know it well enough that I forget what they were actually called sometimes)

I can't talk about other shows though; I don't have a TV. Only caught BBT because in-laws were watching it.
 
2013-09-28 01:10:52 AM  
Actually coming back for one thing.  I once did some website work for a lady whose day job then was as a physician at Bethesda NMC.  In the course of one conversation she whipped out her phone and started showing me pics of a patient who was there because he had spilled a good quantity of HF on himself -- specifically all over his crotch.  It wasn't so much that the pics were gross -- they didn't look any worse than a bad case of poison ivy -- it was her description that was a bit graphic for that early in the morning.

IIRC he was expected to live, but unlikely to have kids or, for that matter, a successful orgasm, ever again.
 
GBB
2013-09-28 01:12:28 AM  
foreverb.rxmedicalweb.netdna-cdn.com
I told you one day the bottom would drop out.
 
2013-09-28 01:14:09 AM  

Peki: I hate the Big Bang Theory, and everyone I know who is actually a geek does.


I've heard BBT and The IT Crowd described as "[nerd|geek] blackface".
 
2013-09-28 01:15:48 AM  

Kensey: Peki: I hate the Big Bang Theory, and everyone I know who is actually a geek does.

I've heard BBT and The IT Crowd described as "[nerd|geek] blackface".


That's actually really apt, because if you are a geek, you do walk away slightly insulted.
 
2013-09-28 01:22:29 AM  
Nancy Reagan was right! Dropping acid will seriously mess you up!

Science. Not even once.
 
2013-09-28 01:25:58 AM  

Fubini: CST

There was a certain midwest engineering college that gave all the incoming freshman the following assignment:

Make a chemically powered model car

There were quite a few well meaning but mediocre students who settled for simple (safe) chemical reactions, such as combining vinegar and baking soda to make water and CO2. Some others were a little more adventurous.

One young student, not really knowing chemistry (but figuring he did), just walked down to the chemical storeroom and asked for "strong hydrochloric acid". The stockroom guy, apparently devoid of sense, looked around and found an ancient bottle of 8 molar HCL. Figuring that the kid knew what he was asking for, handed over the acid.

The wayward freshman proceeded with the bottle back to his dorm room to experiment. This is where things get a little fuzzy, but it suffices to say that in the course of said activity his bottle shattered. Three floors of the dorm were evacuated for several hours while the gasses vented. The wayward freshman was first hosed down by the school and then had to stand outside at some length with no pants on. It's rumored that when he returned to his room his keyboard had melted and fused onto his desk, and that all metal surfaces (including his roommates) had become severely rusted.

Following this incident the chemical stockroom implemented stricter controls over who was allowed access to ancient bottles of extremely strong acids.


And I may be able to verify this basic story, because I may have been a freshman at said certain Midwestern engineering college at the time.

Same project, different group lead to 8S getting charged a cleaning fee for the bathroom floor after an acid spill. Thing is, the acid spot was the only *clean* spot on the floor.
 
2013-09-28 01:36:31 AM  

Peki: Kensey: Peki: I hate the Big Bang Theory, and everyone I know who is actually a geek does.

I've heard BBT and The IT Crowd described as "[nerd|geek] blackface".

That's actually really apt, because if you are a geek, you do walk away slightly insulted.


i'm not sure i qualify as a nerd or geek...if that means you have to like comic books....
but whatever i am, i cannot be hurt or even offended by a poor portrayal of what i or you might consider a geek.
i don't even consider the geekiness anything more than a backdrop. the dialogue is hilarious sometimes.
 
2013-09-28 01:41:35 AM  

Popular Opinion: Peki: Kensey: Peki: I hate the Big Bang Theory, and everyone I know who is actually a geek does.

I've heard BBT and The IT Crowd described as "[nerd|geek] blackface".

That's actually really apt, because if you are a geek, you do walk away slightly insulted.

i'm not sure i qualify as a nerd or geek...if that means you have to like comic books....
but whatever i am, i cannot be hurt or even offended by a poor portrayal of what i or you might consider a geek.
i don't even consider the geekiness anything more than a backdrop. the dialogue is hilarious sometimes.


Comics aren't required, or else I'd be disqualified. I actually have problems reading the damn things because I'm an English major and can't track how the dialogue is supposed to read. And don't tell me "It's simple," because you know damn well at least one or two panes has stuff flipped around, or there's one panel that stretches in the middle of the damn page.

I can quote, read, interpret, and hand in a ten-page essay on Shakespeare, but comic books remain mysterious. If there was such a thing as comic-book dyslexia, I have it.
 
2013-09-28 01:58:00 AM  

Felgraf: Also, at least it wasn't Piranha Solution. Mother of god that stuff scares me. I really, REALLY do not like working with it *at all*.


CSB:
Worked in a wafer fab back in the late 80's with open tanks of 120c piranha. (sulfuric + 30% peroxide)
One day while I was draining the tank the drain line cracked and dumped ~8 gallons of hot solution on to the concrete floor in the fan bay below. I went down the hall to notify supervision and within about 3 mins the whole bay was fogged with fumes.
They didn't dump the fab and before the fumes even cleared they sent the janitor down dressed only with boots, vinyl apron, and glove. He had about 5 gallons of neutralizer, and mop to clean it up.....

We also had open tanks of HF solutions. HF was the only thing that really scared me.
Used to have HCL and chlorine leaks pretty regularly too.

//Good times back in wild west days of semiconductor manufacturing!
 
2013-09-28 02:06:08 AM  

Peki: I can quote, read, interpret, and hand in a ten-page essay on Shakespeare, but comic books remain mysterious. If there was such a thing as comic-book dyslexia, I have it.


www.albertomoran.com
One of the best resources for learning to read/appreciate comics

though it's presented in 'graphic novel' format, it's a straight 9-panel layout unless he's illustrating examples of those panels you find difficult

/lifelong comic geek, and I work weekends at the real life 'Nerdvana'
//not for much longer, sadly
///new baby, about to graduate, etc.
 
2013-09-28 02:58:41 AM  

Felgraf: Nothing like a small faceful of HCl fumes to clean your sinuses.


I can remember combining some stuff in chemistry class once and the teacher told us to waft the fumes toward our faces to get a whiff. Of course I stupidly put the test tube right under my nose and sniffed. It was like someone had jammed a wire brush up my nose.
 
2013-09-28 03:00:39 AM  

Suckmaster Burstingfoam: I spilled some HCl all over my arm in lab once. Freaked out for a sec, then just sat there and watched my wet arm do nothing. Rinsed it off after a minute or so then told the TA his HCl sucks and is ghey.

I thought it would at least fizz like H2O2.


Hydrogen proxide won't fizz on health skin, the fizzing is cause by the reaction of lysine, which is only release during cell damage.

Also your HCI was probably pretty diluted. It's not as bad in a diluted form as it can take 30seconds or more to affect the skin, it is often used in toilet bowl cleaners.
 
2013-09-28 04:20:48 AM  

fusillade762: Felgraf: Nothing like a small faceful of HCl fumes to clean your sinuses.

I can remember combining some stuff in chemistry class once and the teacher told us to waft the fumes toward our faces to get a whiff. Of course I stupidly put the test tube right under my nose and sniffed. It was like someone had jammed a wire brush up my nose.


Was it ammonia?
 
2013-09-28 04:48:52 AM  
This thread makes me glad I'm not a chemist. Seriously, fark screwing around with some of the crap y'all have to work with.
 
2013-09-28 05:02:23 AM  

WraithSama: My CSB time:

I work at a major aerospace manufacturer that uses full immersion chem lines that feature, among others, hydrochloric and hydroflouric acids.  I was fortunate to never witness one, but I understand that a fissure in a tank line or a spill can produce a colorful cloud-o-death.  My father-in-law that's been a manufacturing engineer there for some 30 years told me he once saw a man who didn't evacuate quickly enough and was exposed to a cloud from an acid spill.  He said the guy started down the stairs, collapsed, and fell the remaining steps.  When they were finally able to get to him, the dude was basically goo; like all the bones had been removed from his body.

/So glad I no longer work in a building with a chem line, never felt comfortable working around them.


Well, so much for sleeping tonight.
 
2013-09-28 05:23:37 AM  
Fun thread. I regularly use 48% HF and many other things mentioned here.

But its not a party until you break out the metal hydride. You know you're having fun when you take off your PPE and are covered in sweat. Gotta love something that reacts [violently] to air, water, etc... and a reaction product of that explosive exothermic reaction is strong base. Fun stuff.
 
2013-09-28 06:16:56 AM  
And then, there is the most horrible poisoning of them all - gold thioglucose or gold thioglutimate.
 
2013-09-28 07:29:27 AM  

Glockenspiel Hero: Still, nowhere near as bad as walking past an organic lab and smelling new mown hay. Umm, guys, you might want to evacuate pronto...


Phosgene smell.  Synthetically useful, scary stuff.  Proper building design for chem labs would have enough air output by the hoods/air handling that little air would be going from the labs to the hallway corridor, but how many universities really have the money to design things properly (still shuddering at the UW Madison Daniels building organic teaching labs with wide open benchtops and all your monkey bars mounted in open air).

Moral of this HCl story is, glass bottles should be put down gently and people picking them up should be mindful of the "lip" of any shelf as they pull those bottles out.  HCl will certainly do some damage, but the immediate "oh shiat" reaction is probably due to the cloud of white vapor as the humidity in Seattle has been pretty high.

PhD candidate in chemistry...  so many stories.   Surprised nobody has mentioned dry solvent 'stills yet.  Quenching the sodium chunks resting in ether in an absurdly large flask with the tiny, tiny neck is a recipe for interesting.
 
2013-09-28 07:30:17 AM  

Thresher: Not one of you? No Fight Club pic?  I am disappoint    [content6.flixster.com image 350x235]


That was a base, not an acid.

BIG difference.

But, it was funny in hindsight.  Read the subtext.  Here is the burn, the burn is reality, focus on the burn.  Experience it, don't hide from it.  Now, you have two options,  You can run your hand under water (symbolic of baptism) and make it worse, or you can pour an acid over it to neutralize the base.  Some day you will die, until you know that (there is no afterlife) you are useless.

Fight Club was one big fat anti-religion movie - mostly the religion of consumerism and mass media.  It's why I laughed my ass off when his character in 12 Monkeys pointed at the TV and said "Look.  Listen.  Kneel.  Pray."
 
2013-09-28 08:47:40 AM  

cuzsis: Glockenspiel Hero: Every chemist has a great store of tales like this.  I managed to open a stuck jar of KOH pellets once and ended up flinging them all over the place.  I got most of them but missed two- one ate a hole in my pocket, the other I found about ten minutes later when I noticed my hair felt funny.  Dissolved it all very nicely down to a bald spot.

I also managed to turn my arm orange when I splashed fuming nitric all over it while nitrating cotton balls,  (Damn ice bath cubes locked up when I was trying to move the flask)

Still, nowhere near as bad as walking past an organic lab and smelling new mown hay.   Umm, guys, you might want to evacuate pronto...

Well...don't leave us hanging! What was it?

/never took organic chem


Nerve agent.

One of the things they teach you to look for in the Army. Of course if you're smelling it, you've been exposed. Hopefully you've got your mask to limit any further breathing of it, and you've got some atropine and 2-Pam Chloride to inject.

At least those you can counteract nerve agents. You get hit with blood or blister agents, there is not as much can be done for you.
 
2013-09-28 08:54:35 AM  
CSB:

I got a bunch of HCl in my throat once. I drank too much the night before and had the bile heaves the next morning for about 7 hours. It sucked.
I mad a full recovery though.

/End CSB
 
2013-09-28 09:09:19 AM  
I saw the Mythbusters Breaking Bad episode the other day and they attempted to recreate the bathtub scene from the show. According to Jamie, HCI isn't that dangerous unless you mix it with his manly "special sauce".
 
2013-09-28 09:35:26 AM  
I see the Seattle FD is into sepia tone filters, or something similar...
blog.seattlepi.com
 
2013-09-28 10:09:24 AM  

tetsoushima: http://i.minus.com/ibazhDkbGDPb5P.gif  I thought this gif was relevant to the thread.  too large to fit on here, but relevant.


Wow -- what bear porn is that from?
 
2013-09-28 10:15:25 AM  

Bigdogdaddy: One of our idiots in the lab decided he was going to sneak some out of the plant because he figured it would clear a blocked drain at home.  [...]  I'm still not sure what it would have done to the plumbing in his house.


Well, given that one of the most common toilet-cleaning products is 20% HCl, I'm going with "not much at all".

Guy was an idiot anyway to try to smuggle out something he could buy for a couple of bucks at any hardware store.

I've gotten splashed by each of the big three -- HCl, nitric, and sulfuric. HCl did nothing before I rinsed it off. Nitric stung almost immediately, and left a hard yellow patch that eventually peeled away like a blister. Sulfuric stung and hurt immediately, and left a conventional blister, even though I rinsed it almost immediately.

I made a conscious decision never to mess with HF in any form.
 
2013-09-28 11:04:04 AM  

JohnAnnArbor: That'll clear the ol' sinuses.


Oh thank goodness. I am desperate to get rid of this sinus infection.

2.bp.blogspot.com
 
2013-09-28 11:06:11 AM  

BrainyBear: tetsoushima: http://i.minus.com/ibazhDkbGDPb5P.gif  I thought this gif was relevant to the thread.  too large to fit on here, but relevant.

Wow -- what bear porn is that from?


The next scene involves some rubber gloves, a "slippery when wet" sign, and a (very) hard hat.
 
2013-09-28 11:13:23 AM  
www.chemspider.com
upload.wikimedia.org
 
2013-09-28 12:08:14 PM  

Cream of Meat: Since we have all the chem nerds here, any HPLC (SEC, RP), LC-MS guys around?  Could use someone to turn to for method development help.


I've done a fair bit of LC-MS. EIP
 
2013-09-28 12:08:18 PM  

King Something: I'll see your HF and raise you ClF3

/to say nothing of hexanitrohexaazaisowurtzitane and the aptly-named FOOF


In computer nerddom, F00F--with zeros instead of ohs--was a bug in the original Pentium where unprivileged applications could freeze the CPU until a hard reset or power cycle.  This was done using the illegal instruction "lock cmpxchg8b eax".  The fact that it was an illegal instruction--cmpxchg8b makes no sense when used on a register rather than memory--combined with "lock" confused the Pentium into getting into a bad state.

As in chemistry, the "foof" nickname came from its symbol, so to speak: the bytes representing "lock cmpxchg8b eax" were F0 0F C7 C8.
 
2013-09-28 12:19:47 PM  

doglover: At least it wasn't HF or some other solution. HCl will burn you pretty bad, but it's natural. You make it in your stomach. HF isn't natural and while it won't eat dead meat like in Breaking Bad, it will kill you. It's contact poison and can give you a heart attack, or just go to town inside your body and do all kinds of nasty.


HF is used to dissolve asbestos.
/ agreed
 
2013-09-28 12:20:18 PM  
www.thebeerdrifter.com

/yes I'm sympathetic, but it's the first thing that leapt to mind
 
2013-09-28 12:20:56 PM  

Tchernobog: Ugh.  I work with Hydrofluoric acid daily...not good stuff.  Especially if you have any cuts/scrapes, anything.

/Use it to strip chrome/aluminum


A guy locally opened a drum of it to clean the inside of a tanker, spilled on himself. He dead.
 
2013-09-28 12:22:38 PM  
NOBODY mentioned fluoroantimonic acid? It's 10 quadrillion times stronger than 100% sulfuric acid! Show some respect!
 
2013-09-28 12:23:47 PM  

King Something: doglover: At least it wasn't HF or some other solution. HCl will burn you pretty bad, but it's natural. You make it in your stomach. HF isn't natural and while it won't eat dead meat like in Breaking Bad, it will kill you. It's contact poison and can give you a heart attack, or just go to town inside your body and do all kinds of nasty.

I'll see your HF and raise you ClF3

/to say nothing of hexanitrohexaazaisowurtzitane and the aptly-named FOOF


ClF3 and HF in one thread? Wow. Who knew fark was full of uranium hexafluoride workers?
 
2013-09-28 12:32:44 PM  

Mister Peejay: cuzsis: Okay guys, freak me out here.

 It's been a looong time since I took chem. I called it quits in the lab as a job when I realized I was too lazy to keep up proper safety in the lab on a day-in-day-out basis (forgetting gloves, goggles, periodically, that sort of thing.) Other than getting a few snoot fulls of HCl, never ran into any truly awful stuff that I recall.

 What does HF do to you?

Makes flesh necrotic, leaches the calcium from your bones and replaces it with fluorine (good luck ever getting THAT out, if you live long enough for it to be a problem), and the best part is that it kills your nerve endings so you don't even feel the burn until it's far too late to do anything about it.

IIRC, three square inches of skin contact is fatal.


The only response to stop the spread further into the tissue is to inject paraffin under the exposure.
 
2013-09-28 12:43:11 PM  
I've never been around anything too nasty, but I did manage to turn my thumb green by screwing up in high school chemistry class.  I did the steps wrong, and also forgot to do them in the fume hood, producing some lovely Cl2 gas.  I quickly knew what I did wrong by the beginning of the smell, so I covered the test tube with my thumb.  In the time for me to walk over to the fume hood, the gas had turned that part of my thumb's skin green. =)

My thumb didn't blister or anything.  It pretty much stained the skin, and the green went away in the normal process of skin layer replacement in about 3 weeks.

/nothing compared to the stuff you all are describing!!
 
2013-09-28 03:31:11 PM  

itsaidwhat: Mister Peejay: cuzsis: Okay guys, freak me out here.

 It's been a looong time since I took chem. I called it quits in the lab as a job when I realized I was too lazy to keep up proper safety in the lab on a day-in-day-out basis (forgetting gloves, goggles, periodically, that sort of thing.) Other than getting a few snoot fulls of HCl, never ran into any truly awful stuff that I recall.

 What does HF do to you?

Makes flesh necrotic, leaches the calcium from your bones and replaces it with fluorine (good luck ever getting THAT out, if you live long enough for it to be a problem), and the best part is that it kills your nerve endings so you don't even feel the burn until it's far too late to do anything about it.

IIRC, three square inches of skin contact is fatal.

The only response to stop the spread further into the tissue is to inject paraffin under the exposure.


Nice.  I thought it was cooking grease?
 
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