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2002 Fall ConfChem: Teaching Safety in High Schools, Colleges, and Universities

09/30/02 to 11/10/02
George H. Wahl, Jr. Professor of Chemistry, NC State University Raleigh, NC 27695-8204

What's the Question?

Why a conference on Teaching Safety? Well, who among us has not had some safety related problem during her/his career? Have we always been able to satisfactorily resolve it? Probably not.

Have we wondered what to do about safety in our curriculum? Either there's a "safety fanatic" trying to dominate our program; how do we slow him down? Or, "Gee, we really are not preparing our students for the real world. We should be designing labs similar to what they might experience if they were to go to work in a chemistry lab."

But will students pay any attention to safety lectures? Surely no more attention than they pay to other poorly designed classes. However, perhaps with a well prepared instructor, and some 'real world' examples, they just might pay more attention. After all, the younger generation certainly is very environmental oriented. Once they see that their actions in the lab affect the environment, they can be expected to become active learners.

Should we be fighting for a full course in "Safety"? The jury is still out, but my impression is that we'd be much better served by paying careful attention to safety issues wherever and whenever they appear. Treat them with the same rigor as we do other scientific principles we teach. Show the reasons for safety rules. Engage the students with frequent use of the question "Now, what would a Prudent Person do in this situation?" Accept only well thought out responses. Guide the student to become critical in responding. Just as in Organic Chemistry where we look for a reason why a certain structure is favored, so also we need to be concerned about why we do these reactions in the hood. What protection does the hood provide. Is that protection independent of the position of the sash; of the number of articles stored in the hood; of where in the hood the emissions are likely to occur?

It's our hope that we will all be better equipped to face our students with better answers, but also with more challenging questions about safety after this conference.

Please participate frequently and thoughtfully. Let's hear your experience. But please "Know when to say when!" Some conversations start going nowhere. When that occurs, please just - let it go, and we'll move onto the next interesting idea. Pass the word to your colleagues that it's not too late to register and its FREE. Send them to this page -

Don't forget - we'd like to see you all in New Orleans March 23-27, 2003 for the live conference on this same topic. Send proposed Abstracts, or just thoughts, to me at - before 25 October 2002.


Paper 1: The Laboratory Standard - Syllabus for Academic Safety Programs
George Wahl,
NC State University at Raleigh

Paper 2: "It Was Here Before My Time!" (and other favorite lines given to regulatory agents)
Stefan Wawzyniecki,
University of Connecticut

Paper 3: How Can I Find Out What the Hazards Are?
Jay A. Young,
Chemical Safety Consultant, 12916 Allerton Lane, Silver Spring, MD 20904

Paper 4: Some Thoughts on Teaching Chemical Health and Safety
Stephen Stepenuck, Jr.,
Keene State College, Keene, NH 03435

Paper 5: Using Basic MSDS Assignments to enhance Laboratory Safety
Walt Volland,
Bellevue Community College

Paper 6: High School Chemistry Stockrooms
Alton Banks,
NC State University, Professor of Chemistry 

Paper 7: Guidebook for Science Safety in Illinois (K-12)
Gary Trammell,
University of Illinois at Springfield

Paper 8: Funding Safe Science in Secondary and Post-Secondary Schools
Harry Elston,
Editor, Chemical Health and Safety

Paper 9: Safety Survival Skills
Bob Hill,
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Paper 10: Support From Afar: Using the SAFETY List to Protect Yourself and Your Students
Ralph Stuart,
CIH, Environmental Safety Manager, University of Vermont, Environmental Safety Facility, 667 Spear St., Burlington, VT 05405

Paper 11: Eye and Face Protection in the Laboratory
James A. Kaufman,
Laboratory Safety Institute, Natick, MA

Paper 12: Laboratory Hoods and Ventilation Enclosures: Problems and Pitfalls
Doug Walters,
Consultant, Recently retired from NIEHS

Paper 13: Safety Text for Textbooks
SACHE Project
Department of Chemical Engineering, Wayne State University
Dr. Joseph Louvar, Melanie Rudnik and Tamer Girgis,,

Conference Articles

Abstracts of Papers:

Douglas B. Walters, Ph.D., CSP, CCHO; President, KCP, Inc.; 6807 Breezewood Rd; Raleigh, NC 27607; (919) 851-1465


Ventilation is the first line of defense used to protect workers in chemistry laboratories. This discussion provides insight on the design and operation of laboratory hoods, and specialized ventilated enclosures. Emphasis is on the "Do's and Don't s" for proper control and containment of the potentially hazardous materials present in chemistry laboratories. Included is a discussion of basic hood and ventilation design, where hoods should be located, and how they should be operated to optimize containment.. Routine testing, monitoring and preventive maintenance is discussed. Specialized vented enclosures such as, balance enclosures, microscope enclosures, and enclosures for high-throughput, automated equipment and other equipment is also discussed. The complicated engineering control known as a laboratory chemical hood is discussed in clear, easy-to-understand language so that everyone from the beginner to those familiar with the dynamics of air flow will be enriched from the discussion.