A federal agency last week urged museums and schools to stop using methanol and other flammable chemicals in their fire-based science demonstrations after a flash fire injured 13 people, most of them children, at a museum in Reno, Nev.
The U.S. Chemical Safety Board’s recommendation cited the Sept. 3 blaze at the Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum. The same day, an experiment involving methanol burned four students in a Denver high school chemistry lab.
Because methanol can ignite in the air at a relatively low temperature, using it in classrooms or labs with ignition sources “creates an unacceptable risk of flash fire,” especially when large containers of flammable substances are nearby, the board said.
A version of this article appeared in the September 24, 2014 edition of Education Week as Federal Agency Urges Halt to Methanol Use for Science