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Offline lemonoman

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Worst day of Lab
« on: July 20, 2005, 01:57:30 AM »
I'm just wondering now what everybody's worst day of lab was.  Why was it terrible?  Were you killed?

I just got off a day today that was murderous.  I slept in, and so I missed a meeting with my supervisor.  Luckily, he seemed OK with it.  We got an oscillioscope, for an experiment I'm doing, and I was plugging along for a little while.  Then I tip over a retort stand, it makes a current amplifier fall to the ground and rips the wires out of my only good thermocouple.  It took 3.5 hours to fix everything after that little accident.

Then I worked a bit more, and I figured looking inside a box with a hole in the top would be easier with a light.  But no flashlights were to be found.  So I was unplugging an oldschool microscope light (from a microscope when the light was a separate fixture) and as I wobbled it back and forth (it was probably plugged in for the full 20 years before :P) I felt a slight tingle.  Pffft, I'm tired, my body's making things up.  Wobble wobble BUZZ all through my thumb.  Never been shocked from an electrical outlet before...but it never hurts to try it :(

FInally, I was just working as usual on this GC oven.  I opened the door, moved to do something inside of it and the door just fell right off.  Nice.

It might also be interesting to note that the group beside me was doing microwave extractions, which are hardly ever a problem.  But today, they did a run and 6 of the 12 samples were ruined because the pressure inside the canister was too high and it released gas temporarily, I'm told.

So yeah, anybody wanna share their suckiest lab day with us?

Offline jdurg

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Re:Worst day of Lab
« Reply #1 on: July 20, 2005, 09:10:06 AM »
I've had many, but I'll just list me worst four.   ;)

1):  High School Biology lab.  Dissecting a giant clam which has been preserved in a 30% formaldehyde solution for quite some time.  While standing by the mouth of the clam, my lab partner accidentally pressed down on the stomach of the clam.  A jet of formaldehyde squirts out of the clam onto the right side of my face.  Thank god I was wearing goggles, because they were covered in the formaldehyde as was my face.  The skin quickly turned 'dead' and started falling off my face in sheets.  I was raw for quite a few days after that.  Looked like a really nasty sunburn, but didn't really hurt.

2):  High school chemistry lab prep.  Making a solution of sodium silicate outside of the fume hood.  (STUPID!) and while weighing out the sample the powder kind of 'poofed' into the air right into my face.  I was coughing for quite a long time and silicates aren't good things to have in your lungs.

3):  High school chemistry lab.  Bending some glass tubing which had been used years before for bromine collection.  While heating the tubing, bromine leached out of the hot glass and vaporized into the air.  I was standing in the path going from the forming bromine to the air vent overhead.  Smelled REALLY bad and burned my sinuses.

4):  Worst one ever was college analytical lab.  I really wasn't thinking that day and I paid dearly for it.  Doing a lab involving the analysis of the nickel content of a US Nickel.  At one point in the experiment I accidentally opened up the bottle of concentrated ammonia solution outside of the fume hood.  Eyes teared up for a while and my nose wasn't too happy.  At the end of lab, when I was in a rush to get out of there, I forgot to label a beaker of concentrated H2SO4 that I had.  So when it was time to clean up, I just put my thumb into the solution thinking that it was only water.  It wasn't.   :(  My thumbnail immediately started to fizz a bit and the burning sensation started in.  I rush over to the sink/waste bottle, still holding the beaker of acid in my hand, and in my hast put my forearm over an open bottle of concentrated nitric acid.  There was a puddle of the acid on the top of the bottle opening.  It found my forearm.  So I quickly put down the beaker and wash off the acid on my thumb.  It actually hurt more when the water made contact and I began washing it off.  In the meantime, the nitric acid was 'acting upon' my forearm and left me with a nice scar there which turned yellow-brown for a good long while.  My thumb recovered quite nicely and there are no noticeable scars on it.  I guess that's because my skin was so dry that the H2SO4 really couldn't eat the layer of dead cells.  The HNO3, meanwhile, was a bit more vicious and I have a nice little scar there.   ;D
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Re:Worst day of Lab
« Reply #2 on: July 20, 2005, 09:17:49 AM »
To me it seems like a nightmare coming true.
I have seen many such accidents in lab but i've never personally experienced anything so 'nightmarish' not to mention some silly things i've done inside labs that could have resulted in ''the greatest nightmares of 20th century''
« Last Edit: July 20, 2005, 09:23:52 AM by Quark »

Offline movies

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Re:Worst day of Lab
« Reply #3 on: July 20, 2005, 01:47:22 PM »
I've been pretty lucky in lab and haven't had too many accidents.  A couple of small fires from various things.  The most traumatic was impaling my hand with a syringe about a year ago.  It went in there pretty deep, but didn't really hurt as much as it just surprised me.  I quickly removed it, but I had to inject the stuff into a reaction or I would waste the reaction I had just spent an hour setting up, so I had to add the stuff before tending to my hand.  By the time I got a look and my hand the glove I was wearing was pretty much a balloon of blood.  Good times indeed.  The muscle in my hand really tensed up and was throbbing like crazy.  The puncture wasn't all that bad, but I lost a lot of fine motor control in my left hand for the next week or so.  I don't have a scar or anything, but I'm just hoping that the chemicals in the syringe aren't too carcinogenic because I am now the inadvertent in vivo test subject.

Another scary one was when I did a reaction that produces an equivalent of HCN.  While I was cleaning up, the flask slipped out of my hand and spilled some of the reaction sludge all over my bench.  I was really lucky since I didn't actually get any on myself, but I was just really shaken by the fact that I had lost control of this incredibly toxic material.  No harm done, but I had to go and take a walk outside before going back to lab.
« Last Edit: July 20, 2005, 01:50:11 PM by movies »

Offline limpet chicken

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Re:Worst day of Lab
« Reply #4 on: July 20, 2005, 02:36:22 PM »
One of the scariest things to happen to me, was when I was younger, and din't quite know what I was doing, at about 13 or so, I kept a bottle of Mn2O7 in my lab, and spilled a little, without noticing, on my bench (the one I had at the time was covered in thick glass plating, so the Mn2O7 didn't go off in my face, but pooled on the glass.

About a half hour or so later, I was attempting to make PCl3, by chlorinating white P, and placed a small piece of WP on the desk, to add to a jar full of chlorine gas, only to have it suddenly explode, bright flash of light, scared the bleeding jesus out of me, and I almost dropped the jar I was using to store my lab stock of WP in on me.


Probably the worst though was a lab I did using hydrogen selenide generated by heating parraffin wax and selenium powder in a metal cab, made of an empty propane canister, with a hose through the top to vent gas into 2-propanol, I was heating the cen with a blowlamp, and after about 20 minutes, the hose burned through, and I got a great gout of H2Se spewing out, along with a dirty great big flame from burning wax vapors, I almost s#*$ my pants running for my mask, I think I am lucky my amateur chemistry carreer didn't get prematurely ended.

 
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Re:Worst day of Lab
« Reply #5 on: July 20, 2005, 09:37:38 PM »
Umm in high school chem we did sodium and water and the classroom blew up in flames.  Well, maybe not
"blew up" but a good portion of the room burnt down.

I tried to clock in early today for work (I started at 1:30 and got there at 1:28...) since I was almost late and the  entire management team caught me and lectured me for 5 minutes before I could go get ready.  So all in all I was pretty late for the first time ever.  ::)

Oh and I've only screwed up 4 times in my entire career, and 3 of those times a manager was right behind me, and 1 of those times the store owner was behind me.  ;)

Baaaaaaaad luck I tell ya.  Oh, are we still talking about labs?  :)

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Re:Worst day of Lab
« Reply #6 on: July 20, 2005, 10:27:55 PM »
Hmm, nothing like that. But last term, I was testing samples, and titrated to an end point. I had to boil to expel CO2. I did all 4 samples, and was going to boil them all at the same time. I was tired, did the titrating, and dumped em.

Now, I have large hands, which means I could hold all the samples at once.

Which means they all went at once. As I saw the last drops come out, I noticed the hot plate I had set up, then looked from the hot plate, to the empty flasks, and back, and again, and realized what happened. 2 hours of sample prep gone.

Not as bad, but really annoying:

Sample of cow blood. Alot of it. Pouring into a graduated cylinder, and my hand tipped, so my left hand which was balanacing the cylinder was covered in blood. Looked like something from a horror movie. And wasn't too nice to feel either.
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Offline xiankai

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Re:Worst day of Lab
« Reply #7 on: July 22, 2005, 01:09:02 AM »
while i havent had any roller-coaster lab rides, i still have my share of annoyances

during one QA test, i was supposed to add ethanol to some solution. then i took a good inhalation of the "sweet vapour". my nose instantly fired up and i had heart pains for a week after.
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Offline woelen

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Re:Worst day of Lab
« Reply #8 on: July 22, 2005, 02:45:20 AM »
... I kept a bottle of Mn2O7 in my lab...
I would not like to live nextdoors to you at those days :D. That stuff is ridiculously instable. I once made this stuff in the open air. I saw many specks of light (looked like little sparks) on the surface of the drop I made. I think that these little sparks were due to small dust particles touching the drop of Mn2O7/H2SO4 mix. While I was watching this, the whole mess did BOOM and I had a nice white/violet flash and many tiny droplets of brown stuff in the air.

The same thing also happened to me, once I made a mix of 3 volumes of conc. H2SO4 and 1 volume of 30% H2O2. Fortunately, I also made just a large drop of this mix. I knew the dangers of it.
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Re:Worst day of Lab
« Reply #9 on: July 23, 2005, 12:49:18 AM »
Yeah, I know now of the dangers of manganese heptoxide, I didn't however, at age 12-13, if I KNEW the stuff was likely to blow up in a cloud of ozone and acidic fumes in my face at any moment, I probably wouldn't have kept it in a 2l glass bottle :P

Often, I find, that one of the worst parts of chemistry,  is those times where one needs reagents deemed suspicious by the drug-nazi governments, and where one is left waiting for several days, on edge, wondering wether what you get in the mail next is that liter of acetic anhydride you paid £40 for, or a customs McNastygram.

I REALLY hate those sort of situations, even more than physical dangers in the lab, at least you will PROBABLY only cause a lot of pain and disfigurement, or a hospital visit (for which you get yummy painkilers ;) ;D), rather than the dreaded investigation.

Heh, I remember another incident as a kid now I think back, I used to be big into pyro, of the most obnoxious, teen wannabe "anarchist" sort, forever causing hell, at the time, I had a small arsenal of improvised rockets, and assorted explosive devices (none of which I do any more), and being inexperienced, I had under my bed, one 3 kilogram tub of a mixture of KMnO4 and sucrose, and one large container FULL of a chlorate/sulfur composition that at the time, I liked to fill pipe-bombs with, or empty CO2 canisters.

I had absolutely no idea of what can happen by autocatalysed decomposition of the chlorate into ClO2, from residual acid on the sulfur, which then sets off the resulting entire damned charge, luckily, nothing came of it, but I stored the bucketful of S/NaClO3 for several months, until I eventually misused it, looking back, I am lucky some of the s#*$ in my younger days didn't take off more than just the flesh of part of my hand :(
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