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.


Lab Safety

Dow Chemical Worker Dies After Plant Fire

Safety: Trimethylindium identified as cause of electronic materials facility blaze

by Jyllian Kemsley
October 16, 2013 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 91, Issue 42

Credit: Courtesy of Carlos Amaral family
A photo of Carlos A. Amaral.
Credit: Courtesy of Carlos Amaral family

An Oct. 9 fire at a Dow Chemical electronic materials facility in North Andover, Mass., resulted in the death of production operator Carlos A. Amaral, 51. The cause of the fire was exposure of tri­methylindium to air, according to a press release issued by the Massachusetts state fire marshal. Trimethylindium, used to make semiconductors, ignites spontaneously in air.

Amaral died from injuries sustained in the fire. He may have been working alone in the lab where it occurred, said North Andover Fire Department Chief Andrew V. Melnikas. “No one knows exactly what happened,” he added.

The fire was put out by a building fire suppression system. No other employees were injured, Dow said in a statement. The company is investigating the incident.

The federal Occupational Safety & Health Administration is also investigating the fire, said Jeffrey A. Erskine, director of the agency’s North Boston area office. The Chemical Safety & Hazard Investigation Board is unlikely to investigate, said CSB Managing Director Daniel M. Horowitz. At the time of the incident, CSB investigators were furloughed because of the federal government shutdown.

Amaral was born in Angola and lived in Portugal before moving to the U.S. in 1979, according to his obituary. He had worked at the Dow site for more than a decade.

“He was truly a highly valued member of our team and a role model for his coworkers,” said Julie Thyne, manufacturing leader for the Dow site, in a company statement.

To read about how the shutdown and eventual restart is affecting chemists, visit To contribute your story, visit



This article has been sent to the following recipient:

Chemistry matters. Join us to get the news you need.