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Lab Safety: Postdoctoral researcher killed in explosion at Tsinghua University

by Jyllian Kemsley
January 4, 2016 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 94, ISSUE 1

Credit: Rolex Dela Peña/EPA/Newscom
An explosion in Tsinghua’s Ho Tim chemistry building killed researcher Xiangjian Meng on Dec. 18.
Credit: Rolex Dela Peña/EPA/Newscom
An explosion in Tsinghua’s Ho Tim chemistry building killed researcher Xiangjian Meng on Dec. 18.

A postdoctoral researcher at Tsinghua University was killed in a Dec. 18 explosion and fire in a chemistry laboratory on the Beijing campus, according to university statements on the Chinese microblogging site Weibo.

Local media report that the deceased researcher is Xiangjian Meng, 32. He received a Ph.D. from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore in 2014.

“We are deeply saddened by the accident and loss of a good postdoc scientist,” Tsinghua chemistry department chair Xun Wang told C&EN.

“According to the investigation of the government police department as well as our own investigation, the tragedy was caused by the accidental explosion of a hydrogen gas cylinder,” Wang said. As of Dec. 30, the blast’s cause was unclear.

Tsinghua has stopped using similar hydrogen gas cylinders from the manufacturer of the cylinder that exploded, the university said on Weibo.

Exterior photos and video of the school’s Ho Tim chemistry building taken during the fire and posted online at show broken windows and heavy black smoke. An interior photo taken by aBeijing News reporter indicates substantial damage to the lab.



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Dr.Regimol G George (January 5, 2016 3:12 AM)
It is a shocking news. My opinion is prevention is better than cure. Whatever may be the time constraint is / how urgent the reaction is /on what stage it is/how novel or exciting it may be, it is advisable to do the reaction in a safe environment than only concentrating on the immediate results. The result of 6-7 yrs of hard work can get vanished off within a fraction of seconds. Give priority to safety than getting the immediate output.
So before starting any reactions,
•Try to familiarize with all safety techniques (particular to that reaction).
•Give ultimate care during hazardous reactions.
•In case of doubts, don’t hesitate to discuss with people experienced in the field.
•It would be better to start hazardous reactions in presence of experienced hands for getting some initial support and get corrected immediately, if any mistake happened. It also helps in case of emergency for getting first aid as well as in fire extinguishing.

Dr. Regimol G George

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