Lab Explosion Shakes Stony Brook University
An explosion rocked the Earth and Space Science building at Stony Brook University in New York on Thursday afternoon, the university reported.
The blast occurred in a contained laboratory around 4:30 p.m., injuring two people who were later revealed to be a graduate student and a faculty member, university spokeswoman Lauren Sheprow told local press. They were immediately taken to Stony Brook Hospital where they are reportedly in "good condition."
The explosion occurred on the second floor of the Earth and Space Science (ESS) building during a "routine scientific experiment" as the result of an "unexpected chemical reaction," according to a series of university statements.
While the explosion did result in damage to the lab, the university determined that "there is no risk for danger to anyone else in or around campus community," and so the building reopened by 8 p.m. Thursday evening.
It's currently Finals Week for undergraduates on the campus, many of whom need access to the ESS building for important studies.
According to the American Industrial Hygiene Association, most lab-borne explosions occur when incompatible chemicals contaminate one another or pressurization of containers exceeds their stress-point.
Lab explosions are uncommon even in an inexperienced university setting, as safety precautions are taken in abundance. It is even less common for such incidents to result in injury.
The last lab explosion that resulted in severe injury occurred in 2010 at Texas Tech University. According to the final investigative report issued by United States Chemical Safety Board (CSB), a graduate student lost three fingers, was burned, and one of his eyes was injured after the chemical he was working with detonated.
According to a CSB statement included in the report, the organization is "greatly concerned about the frequency of academic laboratory incidents in the United States... Other institutions have attempted to collect data on laboratory incidents, but no nationwide reporting system for tracking near-misses and incidents exists; as a result, academia is missing a significant opportunity to communicate, educate, and improve laboratory safety."