American Chemical Society, Chemical Safety Board jointly encourage classroom safety

WASHINGTON, Aug. 17, 2018 — With the onset of another school year, the American Chemical Society (ACS) and the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) have issued a joint statement stressing the importance of performing laboratory experiments and classroom demonstrations safely.

Laboratory experiments and classroom demonstrations provide students with exciting educational opportunities that can pique their interest in science, technology and math. Nevertheless, ACS and CSB stress that chemical safety must be at the forefront of these activities, particularly because adverse incidents continue to occur.

The organizations encourage “educators and students to openly engage each other about laboratory safety and embrace and implement” key lessons learned “with the goal of preventing injuries in the classroom.”

CSB identified 261 incidents that occurred from January 2001 to July 2018 in laboratory, experimentation or presentation settings. Of these, 130 incidents occurred at colleges, universities, professional schools and junior colleges, resulting in 185 injuries and five deaths. Sixty-six incidents occurred in elementary and secondary schools, injuring 170 students. Alcohols, such as methanol and ethanol, were the most common type of chemical involved in these events, followed by nitric acid, hydrochloric acid and sulfuric acid.

CSB and ACS encourage educators and students to familiarize themselves with and adopt these four key lessons:

  • Don’t use bulk containers of flammable chemicals in educational demonstrations when small quantities are sufficient.
  • Implement strict safety controls when demonstrations require handling hazardous chemicals — including written procedures, effective training and the required use of appropriate personal protective equipment for all participants.
  • Conduct a comprehensive hazard review prior to performing any educational demonstration.
  • Provide a safety barrier between the demonstration and the audience.

Chemical safety is a shared core value of CSB and ACS, and both organizations have worked to raise awareness of the importance of laboratory safety in the classroom. For additional information on ACS’ efforts related to chemical and laboratory safety, visit

The American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society, is a not-for-profit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. ACS is a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related information and research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. ACS does not conduct research, but publishes and publicizes peer-reviewed scientific studies. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

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