An explosion sent one student to Akron General Medical Center last Tuesday evening.
The explosion occurred in the lab of Judit E. Puskas, located in the Akron Engineering Research Center.
During the accident, a flask containing distilled alloocimene, a hydrocarbon, exploded in the graduate student’s hand.
Small glass shreds cut the student’s face and hands, causing some bleeding but leaving superficial marks.
“Chemistry and Engineering is a dangerous profession and there is no way around an accident not happening. Accidents do happen and the only thing we can do is protect ourselves,” Puskas said.
The graduate student, who asked respectfully to remain anonymous, said that “it wasn’t a big deal” and that he is fine.
The procedure used Tuesday night was done countless of times with proper handling of equipment. The graduate student was wearing his lab coat, rubber gloves and safety glasses. A chemical reaction wasn’t involved in the explosion.
The flask being used possibly had a microcrack which could have led to the explosion from the thermal expansion of the content in the flask.
Barbara Fowler, lab manager, was notified of the accident and went to stay with her graduate student who was later released that night. Fowler notified Puskas, who was out of town.
The lab was cleaned and on lockdown for a few hours to make sure it was safe to re-enter.
After a short time, the lockdown was lifted and a regular safety check was done. All safety checks at the lab are documented on a regular basis.
Puskas wants us to know goggles should be worn at all times and even using a face shield would be recommended in most cases.
Currently, the lab focuses on cancer cells and finding better ways to have fewer side effects from the medicine given to a cancer patient. Puskas wants to establish an innovative breast prosthesis safer for implant patients than the ones being used currently.