Decades old bottle of picric acid leads to evacuation!

Chemical hygiene must be practiced

New York high schools and middle schools were evacuated just after 12 p.m. on Thursday the New York State Police Bomb Disposal Unit out of Albany was called in to assess and dispose of some potentially hazardous chemicals.

“We are concerned about one of the chemicals that is possibly dangerous and could call an explosion,” says Gary Lonczak, superintendent of schools.

Picric Acid can become Explosive

The main issue is a bottle of picric acid which is over 25-years old.

When in liquid form, the chemical is safe to use. However, the compound has solidified over the years, which means it could be potentially explosive if not removed properly.

“We acted as quickly as we could and we followed protocol and we got good advice from the State Police and hazmat unit,” says Lonczak.

Administrators were never advised to evacuate students, but they say they did so as a precautionary measure.

Lonczak says he will send an informational letter to parents regarding the incident and on Friday, the school day will resume as usual.

Throughout the environmental, health, and safety community, it is well known that picric acid becomes a shock sensitive compound over time.  This demands that all laboratories that handle this or similar compounds be inspected on a regular basis. Affygility Solutions always recommends practicing good chemical hygiene.  As part of any chemical hygiene program, an inspection and corrective action program should be implemented.

If you have any questions or need additional information, please contact us via our web form.


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About Dean Calhoun

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Dean is the President and CEO of Affygility Solutions. Affygility Solutions provides environmental, health and safety software, potent compound safety, industrial hygiene, containment validation services to the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical device industry. "Dean's Google+ Profile"

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