CSB Warning Against Use of Methanol During Laboratory and Classroom Combustion Demonstrations

 View of "fire tornado" demonstration - Photo CSB

View of “fire tornado” demonstration – Photo CSB

On September 3, 2014, another tragic accident during a science demonstration. A flash fire injured nine people – eight of them children – who were viewing a science demonstration. They were transported to the hospital for evaluation of burn injuries, and one child with more serious burns was admitted to the hospital for treatment.

Concerns have also been raised by other entities, such as the Committee on Chemical Safety of the American Chemical Society (ACS). There is a general call for schools and teachers to immediately end all “rainbow” demonstrations involving methanol or other flammable solvents on open benches. Using flammable liquids in improperly controlled situations may lead to catastrophic results. ACS safety experts advise, “The ‘Rainbow’ demonstration performed on an open bench using a flammable solvent is a high risk operation.” There are well-known safer alternatives to the rainbow demonstration where no methanol is used, only wooden sticks soaked in chemical salts dissolved in water.

You may view a compelling video ” After the Rainbow” at http://www.csb.gov/videos/after-the-rainbow/

Are these demonstrations being conducted in your local schools and museums?

Statement of CSB Chairperson Rafael Moure-Eraso Warning Against Use of Methanol During Laboratory and Classroom Combustion Demonstrations, in the Wake of Reno, Nevada, Museum Fire can be found at http://www.csb.gov/statement-of-csb-chairperson-rafael-moure-eraso-warning-against-use-of-methanol-during-laboratory-and-classroom-combustion-demonstrations-in-the-wake-of-reno-nevada-museum-fire/

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