The science experiment that caused a flash fire, injuring 17 children and a teacher at Merrol Hyde Magnet School on Wednesday was not a surprise to chemical safety experts across the country. They have been warning schools about unsafe lab demonstrations for years.
Word traveled fast to members of the American Chemical Society, Division of Chemical Health and Safety. Samuella B. Sigmann, a lecturer and Chemical Hygiene Officer at Appalachian State University in North Carolina, monitors chemical safety incidents. She has documented 32 similar incidents at school labs across the country, that injured at least 164 children and teachers.
The experiments used in schools have names like Green Flame, Rainbow Flame, Whoosher Bottle, and Alcohol Cannon, and all involve alcohol-fueled flame tests.