When bomb disposal experts turn up at school

Our young blogger Aimee writes on a surprising substance found in school chemistry cupboards.

The BBC News site recently released an article titled Why bomb disposal experts turn up at your school, in which they state that “schools are being forced to call in bomb disposal teams to blow up an out-of-date chemical which may be lurking in cupboards.”

It has become apparent that a substance known as 2,4-dinitrophenylhydrazine (2,4-DNPH) – a chemical which may be prone to explode if not stored sufficiently – may be a threat to pupils and staff.

I found it interesting that I had never heard that schools were storing such an explosive chemical, especially since I am a high school student myself who takes chemistry. I always worried that the biggest danger was the Bunsen burners, which I had burnt myself with on multiple occasions. I never imagined that there could be something so dangerous that it could blow my school up that could be sitting comfortably in my chemistry equipment room right now.

I feel as though more students should be aware of the dangers being held in their schools, even if they are being stored safely, which is why I have decided to write about this interesting news article.

What is 2,4-DNPH?

This chemical is often used in chemical experiments at certain schools to “identify carbonyl compounds.” It a solid which has a red/orange colour and which may become volatile if it dries out. It must be kept wet if it is to remain safe, but if moved around too much it may become highly explosive. If it is left dry it will become friction sensitive as well as shock sensitive.

How it is disposed

The chemical is to be disposed of by military bomb disposal experts due to its high chance of becoming explosive if not stored correctly. There has not been any explosion yet, but the chemical must be stored properly to prevent it from breaking this streak of safety.

Where to find out more

On YouTube there is video evidence of a controlled explosion on school grounds.