Key points regarding safety education related to fire and/or explosion risk control in academic laboratories

DOI Open Access
  • Murata Shizuaki
    Environment, Safety & Health Office, Nagoya University Graduate School of Environmental Studies, Nagoya University
  • Tomita Kengo
    Environment, Safety & Health Office, Nagoya University
  • Mishina Taiji
    Environment, Safety & Health Office, Nagoya University
  • Hayashi Rumiko
    Environment, Safety & Health Office, Nagoya University
  • Nishikimi Tadashi
    Environment, Safety & Health Office, Nagoya University


<p>Approximately 400 reports describing fires and/or explosions on academic campuses were identified in the data (> 8,000 in 2016) available from the Accident Reports Sharing System of the Seven National Universities of Japan. This system was used to collect accident reports from seven major national Japanese universities for the last seven years, using keywords related to fire (fire, burning, explosion,burst, spurt, and so on). Half of these reports of fires were classified as chemical fires caused by laboratory chemicals, solvents, or chemical wastes. Approximately 3/4 of these reports of chemical fires involved 15 chemical substances, each of which could be classified into one of four cases (> 1% of the total number of fires). The dangerous characteristics of these 15 chemicals were deemed to be high flammability, pyrophoricity and/or incompatibility with water (in that an extremely exothermic and/or highly flammable gas would be generated upon contact with water or moisture), as well as being strong oxidizers.</p><p>It was found that 52% of the fires were caused by six organic solvents that are commonly used in laboratories (acetone, diethyl ether,ethanol, hexane, methanol, and i-propyl alcohol) and pyrophoric materials (e.g., lithium, sodium, potassium, and their hydride or organic derivatives), which were responsible for starting 35% of these fires. This was revealed by a data comparison made by Nagoya University regarding the magnitude of the fire risk associated with these chemicals, depending not only on their dangerous natures (chemical reactivity and physicochemical properties), but also their distribution throughout the campus. In addition, characteristic combinations of combustible materials with an ignition source or improper handling have led to multiple similar fires at various universities. Several points essential to campus safety education or training and the prevention of fire-related accidents caused by the use of dangerous chemicals and improper handling are discussed.</p>


  • Journal of Environment and Safety

    Journal of Environment and Safety 10 (2), 59-65, 2019-09-10

    Academic Consociation of Environmental Safety and Waste Management, Japan

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