October 1, 1943
Eastman Kodak Company
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.
cc to J. B. Koepfli