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Letter from Linus Pauling to the Eastman Kodak Company Research Laboratories. October 1, 1943.
Pauling writes to report the details of a fatal accident caused by Eastman Kodak organic chemicals and to suggest that the company change the methods by which the chemicals are packaged.


October 1, 1943

Eastman Kodak Company

Research Laboratories

Rochester, New York


I am writing to report a fatal accident caused by one of your packaged organic chemicals, to ask if any similar accidents have been reported to you, and to suggest that you consider possible improvements in the method of packaging this substance.

On September 23, 1943, Mrs. Elizabeth M. Swingle, a young woman, twenty-nine years old, who had received a MAster's Degree in Bacteriology and had worked as Stock Room Keeper of the chemical stockroom in the Crellin Laboratory for about a year, went to the chemical vault in the sub-basement of the Laboratory, and removed form the shelf a one kilogram bottle of ethylchlorocarbonate (Pract.), stabilized with calcium carbonate, Eastman P591. She walked to the foot of the elevator shaft, and, while she was standing there, the liquid sprayed out of the bottle and over her head and shoulders, the cap apparently having been blown off. Whether or not she had removed the cellophane covering over the cap is not known. She was immediately put under the shower in an adjacent room, and later her clothing was removed and she was carefully washed again. She was then taken to the Huntington Memorial Hospital, and oxygen therapy was instituted, but she died in about eight hours.

It seems to us that this accident could not have been avoided by any change in procedure, and that it was due presumably to the development of pressure in the bottle of ethylchlorocarbonate and calcium carbonate through their reaction and the liberation of carbon dioxide. We would be glad to have your opinion about this, and we suggest that you consider the desirability of replacing the calcium carbonate by another stabilizer.

We think that it would be wise to send a statement about this accident to Industrial and Engineering Chemistry News Edition, and we propose to do this in a few days. Please let us have any comments that you wish to make.

Yours truly,

Linus Pauling


cc to J. B. Koepfli

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