Controlled Explosions at UK Schools Due to Incorrect Storage of Chemical

By Aatif Sulleyman on at

The chemistry department is officially down with the kids, and it’s all thanks to a boo-boo. Controlled explosions have had to be carried out at several schools due to the incorrect storage of 2,4-dinitrophenylhydrazine (C6H3(NO2)2NHNH2).

The hard-to-read chemical -- also known as Brady’s reagent, thankfully -- is no stranger to the school lab, often being used in A-level experiments. However, as it can be explosive if it’s allowed to dry out, it should be stored.

Science advisory board CLEAPSS last week sent a memo around to schools, asking them to check that any stocks of Brady’s reagent they had was stored correctly, and to contact them if they had any concerns.

“Iif there is no water in the outer container or the reagent bottle has not been placed inside an additional container you must assume that the material has dried out meaning that an additional risk is present,” reads a post on the CLEAPSS website. “Do NOT open the reagent bottle.”

According to reports, at least seven schools in England and two schools in Wales have had to call in police and military bomb disposal teams so far, with that figure expected to grow.

“It’s used to test carbonyl compounds and in the school labs it is often used as part of the A-level programmes,” said Dr Dave Kinnson, a chemistry safety adviser from the University of Southampton, in an interview with BBC Radio 4.

“We’ve always known if this material is not stored properly and allowed to dry out it could become dangerous and could become explosive. But if it’s kept wet it is perfectly safe.” [Guardian, BBC]

Image: Kaitlin P via Flickr