Worst Lab Accidents in History

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Burning Negligence

Chemistry labs are particularly dangerous. And that is why safety protocols should never be neglected.

That's what happened in the case of UCLA lab worker Sheri Sangji. On December 29th, 2008, she was transferring a syringe of tert-butyllithium when the contraption came apart in her hands. Tert-butyllithium ignites upon exposure to air. This instance was no exception. Sangji received second- and third-degree burns across more than 40% of her body. She died two and a half weeks later in the hospital.

Upon subsequent investigation, it was discovered that Sangji had not been told of the properties of tert-butyllithium, nor had she even received generalized safety training, which would have apprised her of the location of the emergency showers and informed her to wear a protective lab coat. Even more disturbing was that the lab had been cited for a dozen safety violations just two months before. Little was done to correct the problems.

It's been over four years since the accident, but it was just decided in April that Professor Patrick Harran, the lab's head scientist, will face trial on three felony counts of negligence for Sheri Sangji's gruesome death.

Sources: Wired, C&EN

(Image: Wikimedia Commons)

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