>  Many of us do the same flame test. Anyone have an idea as to what went
>  wrong?

I am forwarding the following comments from Prof. Wade Freeman, from 
UIC's Chemistry Dept.  Prof. Freeman is an author of a college 
textbook on general chemistry and has worked extensively for many 
years with Chicago-area chemistry teachers.

>Injurious methanol fires are rare in chem labs and demonstrations, 
>but are documented in the literature. I recall that maiming burns 
>from ignition of methanol in a alcohol burner were sustained by a 
>girl in an upstate New York high school some 20 years ago. A report 
>appeared in Chemical and Engineering News or a similar publication; 
>I don't remember exactly. The incident was later advanced as 
>motivation for chemistry teachers to obtain professional liability 
>Interestingly, numerous injuries and at least one death have been 
>reported from unexpected flare-ups involving butane-fueled cigarette 
>lighters. The point is that if something can burn it eventually 
>will. It reminds me of what a plastic surgeon I know said while 
>suturing up dog-bites on a six-year old's face: "If it has teeth, it 
>The decontamination process that is reported was certainly gross 
>over-reaction, unless chemicals more dangerous than those mentioned 
>in the news account were present.

Marty Gartzman
Institute for Mathematics and Science Education
University of Illinois at Chicago (m/c 250)
950 S. Halsted, Room 2075
Chicago, IL 60607-7019
phone:  (312) 413-2971
fax:    (312) 413-7411

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