ADVERTISEMENT
2 /3 FREE ARTICLES LEFT THIS MONTH Remaining
Chemistry matters. Join us to get the news you need.

If you have an ACS member number, please enter it here so we can link this account to your membership. (optional)

ACS values your privacy. By submitting your information, you are gaining access to C&EN and subscribing to our weekly newsletter. We use the information you provide to make your reading experience better, and we will never sell your data to third party members.

ENJOY UNLIMITED ACCES TO C&EN

Safety

Firm Fined For Chemist's Death

Safety: Sepracor Canada admits lack of lab ventilation in worker fatality case

by Jyllian N. Kemsley
May 5, 2011 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 89, ISSUE 19

Daigle
[+]Enlarge
Credit: Michel Daigle
8919notw8_daigle.jpg
Credit: Michel Daigle

Drugmaker Sepracor Canada pleaded guilty in a Canadian court on May 2 to one charge of failing to provide proper workplace ventilation and will pay a US$47,000 fine for the death of chemist Roland Daigle.

Daigle died on Oct. 8, 2008, from lung failure after exposure to trimethylsilyldiazomethane (TMSD) in a quality control laboratory at the company's Windsor, Nova Scotia, facility.

The plea and fine were part of a deal in which the prosecutor dropped four other charges against the company, a subsidiary of Sunovion Pharmaceuticals. The other charges involved hazardous material training, use of personal protective equipment, and maintaining the security of the accident scene.

The day before he died, Daigle, 46, worked with TMSD, (CH3)3SiCHN2, when lab fume hoods were not operating because of roof work. TMSD can be used as a methylating reagent in place of diazomethane, which is explosive. When inhaled, diazomethane can also cause fatal lung damage akin to that experienced by Daigle. It is unclear whether TMSD has the same toxic properties as diazomethane, or whether Daigle's lung damage was caused by breakdown products or residual diazomethane (Clin. Toxicol., DOI: 10.1080/15563650903076924).

Daigle's family is disappointed that court proceedings did not explain why Daigle and coworkers worked in the lab without adequate ventilation, says a statement prepared by the family and obtained by C&EN from Lynda MacDonald, Daigle's sister. The statement adds that $47,000 "is but a slap on the hand of a giant pharmaceutical company."

"Sepracor Canada continues to mourn Roland Daigle's loss as well as to extend its sympathies to Roland's family and many friends," Sunovion spokeswoman Susan Adler says. Adler adds that the Nova Scotia Department of Labour & Advanced Education did not recommend any changes to work practices at the Windsor facility after department officials investigated Daigle's death.

At least one other chemist has also died in recent years from TMSD exposure. On Jan. 4, 2008, 24-year-old chemist Jason Siddell died after spilling TMSD at chemical company Gelest in Morrisville, Pa. The U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration cited Gelest for violating hazard communication standards, and the company paid a $1,500 fine.

Advertisement
X

Article:

This article has been sent to the following recipient:

Comments
Wayne Wood (May 12, 2015 10:09 AM)
A properly functioning chemical fume hood is primordial to working with toxic chemicals like TMSD. One can't help but wonder if a simple face velocity monitor on that hood might have saved Mr. Daigle's life.
Anonymous (July 18, 2015 2:04 AM)
You have done a great job to alert the scientist community .
Thanks a lot .

Leave A Comment

*Required to comment