A recent lab accident caused serious injury to a UCB graduate student due to an over-pressurization that caused a glass reactor to fail. Glass was sprayed at the researcher who received cuts to his lip, chin, chest, and serious cuts to his hands. 911 was called and the researcher was taken by ambulance to the hospital. The cuts to the hand were serious enough to require stitches and surgery on the palm.
The chemical research involved a toxic/flammable gas that was liquefied and used with a pyrophoric reagent. The reaction was done inside a fume hood, so no one else was affected.
What was the Cause?
It has not been determined what the exact cause of the accident was. The reactor was flame torched (to ensure dryness), then reactants were introduced and taken to -190°C. It is thought that the thermocycling of the glass reactor could have weakened the structural integrity and lead to micro-fissures of the glass that let in contaminants such as ice water. Another possible cause was that an impurity or contamination was in the closed reactor or on the magnet and may have led to a side reaction which could have caused the rapid exothermic reaction.