Chemical Safety

November 15, 2010 on 2:41 pm | In Uncategorized | No Comments

Below is a picture I recently took at the Grohmann Museum. I wish to thank Dr. Eckhardt Grohmann for inviting all of us to the museum on Friday, November 5 for a wonderful discussion concerning art and vision.

The picture is relevant from the perspective of chemical safety. Can you spot any current safety violations in the picture below?  Symbolism aside, one does not need to go very far to see that much has changed in the chemical and laboratory workplace since the 16th and 17th centuries. For instance, the broken glass on the floor and lack 0f eye protection is obvious.

It may be important to step back at this point and realize that chemical safety is just now becoming an important part of research and industrial chemical practices today. After all, chemical safety officers are now commanding much higher positions within companies than ever before. I am also increasingly approached by colleagues on various aspects of chemical safety worldwide.

For instance, at a recent discussion the question was posed whether those who are not familiar with chemistry should be given adequate information so as to allay any fears concerning research areas within manufacturing companies. Nowadays, most of us agree that all employees need to be made aware of the potential hazards they may encounter; such as:  “walking through” a chemical lab from a manufacturing area on their way to the QC (Quality Control) area. This can be done through proper posting and communication.

Often we are aware of the potential dangers of a research situation as chemists, but that does not mean that everyone in the facility is. This need to know can be critical, especially if someone gets hurt. As chemists, we are usually aware of the hazards and dangers of our work. Research (especially basic research) itself implies performing processes that may not have been attempted before. This unknown (and its inherent risks) may be understood by the scientist, but not by others. The situation can become more dire if the scientist becomes seriously injured or hurt – leaving others with the confusion of not knowing what to do. It is for these reasons that I find companies that are 1)fully willing to be open about safety issues and 2)willing to discuss these issues with their colleagues better prepared for unexpected incidents when they actually arise.

If you have any interesting links or stories of your own concerning safety, please feel free to provide them. In the meantime, I hope to provide some more specific items on chemical safety and workplace safety in the future.

Nobel Prize to Negishi, AmCon, and Safety

November 5, 2010 on 2:53 pm | In Uncategorized | No Comments

Congratulations to Dr. Negishi on winning the Nobel Prize in Chemistry this year.

http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/chemistry/laureates/2010/negishi.html

It really was a pleasure to listen to his talk last month. According to my notes he included an idea of “YES”, whereby each letter corresponded to high Yield, Efficiency, and Selectivity. Interestingly, he said he was working on another YES acronym employing Economically and Safety (he has yet to find another word beginning with the letter “Y”). Regardless, his work along with that of Suzuki and Heck is synonymous with palladium-catalyzed organic cross coupling reactions.

Three weeks ago I attended the AmCon series of national conference/shows.

http://www.amconshows.com/

Admission was free and it was a fine opportunity to see all of the services currently offered in the metals and plastics industry. The majority of these manufacturers were from the upper Midwest (Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin). Several presentations were also given. I attended a presentation by Clifford-Jacobs Forging Co. This presentation was very engaging and I learned quite a bit about metal forging processes. I recommend this series of conferences for manufacturers, distributors, and those seeking networking/contacts in the plastics and metal fabrication industries.

I have found quite a bit of interest in safety recently. I wish to start listing good links to websites that have comprehensive MSDSs and databases of current safety laws and regulations. I hope to report back soon with some links.

Negishi Talk and Blog Topics

September 11, 2010 on 4:50 pm | In Uncategorized | No Comments

I recently attended a talk by Ei-ichi Negishi. Overall, a very nice and friendly scientist. He was awarded the ACS Award for Creative Work in Synthetic Organic Chemistry (http://portal.acs.org/portal/acs/corg/content?_nfpb=true&_pageLabel=PP_ARTICLEMAIN&node_id=1319&content_id=CTP_004508&use_sec=true&sec_url_var=region1). I found the topic concerning his work with ZACA (Zirconium-Catalyzed Asymmetric Carboalumination) quite interesting and refreshingly informal. The talk took place in Milwaukee at Marquette University (in alternate years the talk is held at UW-Milwaukee).

On another note, I hope to get this blog started concerning chemistry in a format that is apolitical, impartial,  and informative to the contributors and viewers.  I currently work as a consultant in the chemical industry; but I see no reason not to confine the content of this blog to just matters involving industry. I have asked other chemists what their blogging interests might be and have received suggested topics as far ranging as safety and compliance to chemical education and networking. I hope that within several months the blog will start to become more formative and topic-oriented according to user interest.

From time to time over the next few weeks, I wish to provide insights concerning my viewpoint as a chemist regarding these suggested topics. Please feel free to also provide your own relevant chemistry contributions, but let us remember to preserve some sense of dignity to all in this wonderful field of scientific endeavor.

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