Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Source: Mendel Hazardous Chemical Identified

Amidst all of the Breaking Bad/Meth jokes about today's chemical incident in Mendel Hall which left five people hospitalized, I have obtained exclusive information from a first responder as to the offending chemical which caused the students to become ill. It was not phosphine, nor was it Mendel Doug returning to Villanova to exact revenge on the chemistry department.

According to my source, this was caused by the reaction of isobutanol and two acids. That pretty accurately describes the Fischer esterification of isobutyl acetate, a common solvent used in the production of lacquer.

Here's what the venerable Wikipedia has to say about isobutyl acetate:
Like many esters it has a fruity or floral smell at low concentrations and occurs naturally in raspberries, pears and other plants. At higher concentrations the odor can be unpleasant and may cause symptoms of central nervous system depression such as nausea, dizziness and headache.
And there you go, exactly the symptoms described in news reports. Sounds like someone did a shitty job measuring out the chemicals.

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