MERCED - A minor chemical explosion occurred in a research
laboratory in the Science & Engineering building on the UC
Merced campus at about 2:45 p.m. today (Nov. 8). The building was
immediately evacuated and temporarily closed. One portion of the
building will remain closed until at least tomorrow. Classrooms in
the building were not affected.
Eric Josephs, a UC Merced graduate student, was taken
immediately by ground transport to the Fresno Regional burn unit.
His age and city of residence are unknown at this time. The victim
received cuts to his hands and face from an exploding beaker that
contained nitric acid and butanol, as well as burns to his forearms
and face. No other people were in the laboratory at the time of the
explosion. No other injuries have been reported.
The UC Merced Police Department responded immediately to the
call. In addition, Merced city and county fire crews, a HazMat
squad and a rescue crew were dispatched to the scene per protocol.
Butanol is an alcohol with low toxicity in single-dose
experiments and is considered safe enough for use in cosmetics. It
is used as a solvent for a wide variety of chemical and textile
processes, in organic synthesis and as a chemical intermediate.
Nitric acid (HNO3) is a highly corrosive and toxic strong acid that
can cause severe burns.
Classes in the Science & Engineering building will resume as
scheduled Monday, Nov. 10.
Office of Communications