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Science Lab Safety Update: US Chemical Safety Board Issues Warning on Use of Methanol

Please consider sharing the following information with science teachers and leaders in your district:

 

US Chemical Safety Board Issues Warning on Use of Methanol

Labs and demonstrations are a great way to engage students in learning science.  However, safety must always be the top priority.

The use of methanol in a common demonstration and lab, Flame Tests, has caused many serious burn accidents.  As a result the US Chemical Safety Board has issued this warning:

“Today I am calling on all schools, museums, and science educators to discontinue any use of bulk methanol – or other similar flammables – in lab demonstrations that involve combustion, open flames, or ignition sources.  There are safer alternative ways to demonstrate the same scientific phenomena, and many teachers are already using them.  Any use of methanol or other flammables should be either avoided completely or restricted to minimal amounts, which have been safely dispensed at remote locations.  Bulk containers of flammable liquids must never be positioned or handled near viewing audiences, especially when there are potential ignition sources present.”

Click here to read the full story from the US Chemical Safety Board.

Consider:

  • developing a policy in line with the recommendation from the US Chemical Safety Board.
  • ensuring that all science teachers are aware of the policy regarding use of methanol.
  • ensuring all science teachers are aware of the safety issues involved in handling methanol.

Flinn Scientific, a science supply company, provides this demonstration video with tips on how to safely perform the flame test with small amounts of methanol:

How To Safely Perform Flame Tests with Methyl Alcohol – Flinn Scientific (YouTube Video)

 

ESC Region 13 Science Contacts:

Shawna Wiebusch – Science Specialist – shawna.wiebusch@esc13.txed.net

Kristen  Hillert – T-STEM Specialist – kristen.hillert@esc13.txed.net

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